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Monday, November 28, 2011

If it smells Chinese...

The funny part about being from Fuzhou is that whenever you smell something that seems to trigger your olfactory glands into blaring "Chinese food!" you immediately know what's in it.
There are only a few ingredients that you really seem to need in order to achieve that "Asian-American" taste.

For instance, there's the all-known soy sauce that even Westerners use - and I'm using Westerners as loosely as I'm using Chinese. Not all Westerners agree with the high-in-sodium-and-sugar that makes up this delicious ebony colored nectar, but most seem to enjoy a dash of it in their fried rice. In the same spirit, not all Chinese fast food cuisine include the following ingredients, but I've found that a great number of Chinese restuarants seem to include it in their kitchens, whether they want the customers to know or not.

Oh, Yummy :)
Another thing that might seem familiar to a lot of people is the smell of sesame oil. The amber hued, yet sweet and thick oil certainly packs a lot in a little. Nothing more than a dash already brings up the smell of Oriental cooking and greasy back-of-the-restaurant hard labor.

Last but not least in the list is the umami of MSG - aka monosodium glutamate, one of the most abundant sources of non-essential amino acids found in nature. It's basically a variant of salt, if you look at it in a "non-technical" angle. There's nothing more satisfying than tasting this seasoning in any Chinese fast food dish - in fact, I've found that even in restaurants that promise "NO MSG!" there is still a hint of the taste in the food. It's just natural for Asian cultures to add in that little bit of protein taste to create the full circle of Asian-esque culture and cuisine.

So how do you feel? Is there anything I missed?


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