From the Exotic to the Familiar: Get to Know Asian Cooking When we think about Asian cooking, we envision rich, flavorful food mixed with exotic spices. In terms of size, Asian cuisine is probably the largest, consisting of many different cooking styles from different regions and countries. Even those countries have several different cooking styles depending on the locality. Asian cuisine is made up of many types of cooking, foods and preparation styles. Some of these include: East Asia (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese) Some of the cuisine that represents Asian cooking to the rest of the world comes from East Asia. Flavors vary and so do cooking styles but there are also similarities. A staple of East Asian cooking is rice and/or noodles, followed by dishes that contain fish, meat and vegetables. While rice is considered as an important part of the meal, noodles and buns may also be used as substitutes, depending on the region. In the East Asian region, the use of chopsticks is predominant when partaking of solid food while flat bottomed spoons are used for soups. Chopsticks are also practical for the type of cooking practiced in these regions, since most of the foods are cut up and prepared in small pieces, allowing for direct eating. Interestingly, forks and knives are not used for eating because they are considered and were often used as weapons. South and Southeast Asian cuisine (Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Filipino, Indonesian, Cambodian, Laotian, Burmese) Subtlety and surprise are two of the characteristics of Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly because it puts emphasis not only in taste and choice of ingredients but also in presentation. If you want to know about an Asian country's history, have a taste of its food. Not only will you taste what the country produces from its own land but you’ll also encounter the people who came and from there. The diversity is staggering although similarity also exists to unite the region. For example, Vietnamese cooking features some French flavors while Filipino cooking has dishes that are similar to those found in Spain and America. Noodles and spices are commonly used in most regions. Middle Eastern cooking (Some Greek, Arab, Afghan, Palestinian, Egyptian, Turkish, North African, Lebanese, Moroccan) Middle Eastern cooking is also diverse and many of the dishes are quite exotic compared to Western tastes. Greek cooking, for example, is considered partly Asian but its taste and appearance is Mediterranean. As for the other cooking styles, there are certain similarities that vary slightly as you go from one region to the next. Common ingredients such as pita, sesame seeds, honey, sumac, parsley, mint and other herbs and spices are often used.