The Asian Connection

This section is all about Asian Fusion food which I like to make for it unique flavors and combinations, also dining out with a great deal of inspection.  We start with Japan. We will then travel to LAO and Vietnam.  I came across the best explanations of Japanese Basics, the Dashi Stock,  Miso Fermented Soybean a basis for many of their dishes.  

Many items from one country may be the same in other countries so we will try to cover as many as we can.  We credit the explanations to Benihana on Sushi and Sashimi.  Stated closest to real.There are many aspects to the unique foods and difference we find when we spend time in other parts of the world.  

I was about eight years old when I received a book called The Occident and the Orient.  If you have been to my other website you will find it was a trigger and I still find the ethnic environment, religion, foods, customs, migrations , wars and life intriguing.  I love the other side of the world, but I also have reasons for caution in some cases.

There are similarities in food and politics for example.  The man in the podium is not the same man behind the curtain. That pretty plate with a sprig of cilantro or parsley may have come from a filthy kitchen.  That preacher telling you how he will lead you to salvation is doing time in prison for pediphilia.  Nothing anymore can go unchallenged… Today 07/18/2020 I received from various agencies six major recalls mostly imported foods. Bad food like Bad Politicians should be removed.

And right up front I caution people about health and cleanliness issues… I have many friends in the Asian Community and am versed in their customs and traditions.  Some of which might not agree with established routines here and some need to be addressed.

The Chinese Buffets - Unreal And Real Truth - I Do Not Eat There, Sorry

I am one of the worlds greatest fans of oriental food.  I am not a particular fan of some buffets.  It’s appealing, great idea, all you can eat for a price and your simple mind tells you can beat the bank. Really, not really… 

Yes,  you trade volume for quality and freshness.  Poor quality grade B seafood, lots of meat, held over if not sold, and lots of chicken choices, cheap chicken ten different ways.  Soups to desert all for a paltry seventeen dollars.  And you think you can cash in on this plethora of fine dinning.  More like mediocre dining and starch filled dishes.

  • These buffets draw more code violations than the Mexican restaurants in Tampa and thats not a joke.  It’s serious.
  •  If it doesn’t sell, at closing it goes in the chiller to be heated next morning for the lunch boys. We call it holdover food.
  • There is a whole different side to this equation and thats what it is,  a cultural gap  exhibiting “Human Trafficking to stale food, some days old and violations galore because of cultural differences are serious concerns and the state thought so.
  • This has serious food potential and consequence.  I am not being prejudicial  against my Asian friends but their fake Chinese buffets really keep the food police busy.  
  • Four in our local area of fifteen miles all had these mentioned problems and several owners got jail terms and probation for human trafficking. The reports are all under The Tampa Food scene at the bottom of their respective pages.

1)  Southeast Asian Peninsula Customs Might Not Agree With You

Custom Number One:   Sticky Rice:   How to give a food critic, a food checker, a food inspector a heart attack.   LAO people, also those from Cambodia and parts of Vietnam, have borderless borders.  Better said as,  “ What borders?”  They use a lot of what is called sticky rice.  No utensils, you grab a few fingers worth, from a common pot about a golf ball size, roll it to a football shape ball, take a piece of meat, fish or veggie, stick it on top and down it.  No gloves no utensils, where was that hand that was there before you.

This custom today is the Super Bowl of Covid-19 -   Wait, thats bare hands, in a common dish, in an outdoor venue with hundreds of people you might not know.  With nothing but port-o-lets and no soap and running water.  Thats acceptable in their country, home or family members house.  Not in mine, thats what medical gloves are for and I will not touch their food.  

And I only eat from a common pot when utensils, clean and proper are available.  No exceptions, this is not a good time for sloppy manners.  ( I am a cancer care-giver support person and do not let anyone else eat in this fashion, most do not have an immune system as yet with stem cell transplantation) Generally it’s not a place I will bring them to. 

I do not eat at big outdoor venues unless I can see all of whats going on.  Most food inspectors would suffer a heart attack if they watched and saw what I saw.   Unusual that I don’t see as many inspectors at these fairs and ethnic gatherings, so common but unregulated.  

And when you see Sashimi on the Sushi table, was it most likely bare-handed or maybe gloved, betting not all the time. Gloves mean little, I have seen the best rub their nose, scratch their head and God knows what with gloves on.

I am a fan of Southeast Asian food and make much of it myself, jokingly being the first Jewish Sushi/Sashimi Chef.  Not a joke, many things can be made into Sashimi.  I like Gefilte Fish On Sushi rice with a touch of Wasabi.  Other fresh water sliced and cooked fish like Pike do well.  But I still have a level of alertness, especially now with three epidemics currently in the US and 144,000 dead people to prove it.

2)  The Handlers - Shoppers That Drive Me Nuts

The casual shopper in an environment such as the warehousing stores like SAMS, COSTCO, ALDI and others are like open books and there are those who have to read every page before they buy the book.   With most produce, some fruits and vegetables on every table has bagged produce weighed and tagged with a price.  

Now on foreign soil ( Vietnam - right ) most of these products are carefully displayed to show off their best attributes loose on slanted tables, pans and baskets since that what they have.  Since there is no refrigeration and mostly home grown prices are negotiable so as to carry less home.  People buy for the day

Handling and selecting food is common there. I’m sure each piece is scrutinized and sight tested and washed thoroughly before cooking usually in a wood or coal high temperature wok or similar device.  ( No electricity in rural land) 

But there is the problem, our super ware house stores pre-package the products from distributors and lay them on flat tables and then the buyer comes along an opens many of the bags and makes up a bag of the selected best produce she can find from the entire lot.    

Which means everything else gets handled and left open.  I have seen this a dozen times and I do not know the person touching the food, and I pass.  Management in some cases is too afraid of stopping this or naive enough to do something about it like better closures on the bags.

Recently I have seen better packaging in COSTCO and better produce.  It’s most important now. At this time, during several outbreaks of highly contagious diseases especially COVID-19 because of food sharing and poor restaurant employee procedures, and safety measures we must be cautious. 

There is an art form to displaying food and even produce. You know it and I know it that burger in the picture is not the one you are going to get.  It was carefully crafted to look great and if you read BURGER WARS  it explains how they make the Burger look good.  It pertains to almost anything on display and in pictures.

3)  And A Few Domestic Habits Need To Be Addressed

In a sophisticated place the other evening, I watched the hostess cough into her elbow, retie her bun on her head, handle all the menus in that same armpit and then seat the customers.  No armpit carrying of food, all comes out on trays, thats ok. Menus on a sneezed or coughed elbow is not.  And the menus needed a good wipe down with something like sanitizer or Clorox Clean for all the handling they get.

I shop a lot at outdoor private vendors and farms, a few of us who are foodies and good friends, once a week head east during corn season to the farms and buy right from a farmer we know a few bushels that we share. Same with other veggies we like.  One car one load and we all get fresh stock.  A lot fresher than whats laying in a warehouse, then the store for days.