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Asian Cooking for Beginners

By Nick Schonberger

Many white people shudder in fear at the prospect of visiting an Asian supermarket. Different smells. Odd cuts of meat. Labels they can't read. But the truth is, these are all aspects of experiencing culture (and great food). Once the novelty of difference wears away, one can easily navigate the offerings and find some excellent (and affordable) foodstuffs.

A how-to guide for shopping at an Asian Market seems unnecessary—just take a few risks and you'll soon figure out what you like and don't like. However, for those of you who like to start small, here's an easy meal to produce from a quick trip to your local SUPER 88.

What You Need to Buy

  • Frozen dumplings
  • Rice
  • Kimchi

There is a massive variety of dumplings, so get whatever suits your tastes and dietary needs (to be fair, the ones at Trader Joe's aren't bad). I like the pork and cabbage personally. Anyway, the best methods of cooking dumplings in the home are 1) steaming and 2) pan frying. Steaming is pretty easy. Put a small amount of water in a pot and heat until boiling, then place the dumplings on a steamer above the water 7 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, you could try using a colander, but be very careful about melting. A safer move might be pan frying: add a little vegetable oil to the pan. Heat, then brown the dumplings. Finish by adding a bit of water and allowing them to boil away for a few minutes. This will ensure your fillings are cooked through.

For rice: If you don't have a rice steamer, take 1 cup of rice to 2 cups water ratio and place in a covered pot. Boil until water is absorbed. But wait, the rice is still not fully done. Allow it to rest for 10 to 20 minutes. During this time, cook you dumplings.

Serve both with kimchi. Simple, quick, and delicious.

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