East Asian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world, so we decided to do a deep dive. Check out our favorite Asian recipes!
Asian cuisine, being the cuisine belonging to an entire continent, is necessarily an enormous category, typically including Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and Indian food in addition to recipes from East Asia. However, in typical usage, Asian food generally refers only refers to the cuisines native to China, Korea, Japan, the various countries of Southeast Asia, and perhaps Indonesia. That’s definitely a lot of areas to cover!
In much of Southeast Asia, curries are extremely important to the cuisines, generally being based on coconut milk mixed with various spices. Garlic, ginger, and chili all play a distinctly important role in this region. Chinese cuisine, in particular, makes extensive use of the wok, a characteristic cooking instrument that allows chefs to cook quickly at high heat in order to conserve cooking fuel.
By far the most important ingredient of Asian food is the rice. There is an aphorism present in many countries of the region that translates roughly to “no rice, no meal.” This illustrates the central role that rice has played in the development of cuisine in these regions. It also helps to understand why so much Asian food makes use of incredibly strong flavors—they needed something to make all that rice interesting!
Noodles, made from rice or wheat, are also essential to Asian cuisine, but not as important as rice. Noodles are prepared in a multitude of different ways, fried and boiled, served hot and cold. It’s even said that European explorer Marco Polo brought noodles (and therefore, pasta) to Italy from China. Talk about fusion food! We’ve assembled our favorite Asian recipes here for you to try. We even added a few Asian-fusion recipes for variety. Check them out!
Vegetarian dim sum recipe: dumplings with spinach and mung beans
Dim sum is a Chinese category of food. It refers to various dumplings and small plates typically enjoyed with a group. You can think of it as Asian tapas! This delicious dim sum recipe is a perfect intro to dim sum, and, since it makes use of premade wonton dough, it couldn’t be easier! Try swapping out the fillings to get some variety on this classic vegetarian dim sum recipe!
Vietnamese bo bun recipe: Asian beef salad
This classic Vietnamese soup is not as popular as the omnipresent pho, but just as tasty. It’s a fresh beef soup enhanced with chewy rice noodles and tons of fresh vegetables. If you’ve never tried them before, Vietnamese soups are special because of their prodigious use of fresh herbs, which presents a delightfully tangy contrast to the rich, meaty broth. Try this fresh bo bun soup recipe next time you want a healthy, tasty meal.
Deep fried dumplings recipe: fried dim sum
These fried dumplings (another example of dim sum, if you were counting) are traditional to the Chinese new year, but where lots of dim sum are steamed, these are deliciously fried so they come out crispy and crunchy. They consist of a simple dough stuffed with ground pork spiced with sesame, green onions, ginger, and soy sauce. The taste is classically Asian, the crunch addictive, and the preparation couldn’t be easier! Try these Asian-style deep fried dumplings at your next dinner party.
Asian-style chicken orzo salad recipe
Even though, due to its use of the Greek pasta orzo, this recipe is more Asian-inspired than truly traditional, it’s still delicious. What’s more, it keeps extremely well, and for this reason, is an excellent dish to prepare in advance for a dinner party or bring to a potluck. Soy sauce, chicken, edamame, and red pepper enhance this salty and sweet salad. The only downside? It’s hard to eat this with chopsticks! Try this Asian-style orzo pasta salad recipe for your next packed lunch.
Kung Pao chicken: spicy chicken with peanuts and chili
Though Kung Pao Chicken also technically belongs to Chinese-American cuisine, we’re including it here because it’s one of our favorite things ever. This spicy stir fry comes together in a flash—salty sweet bits of chicken breast is fried quickly together with peanuts, dried chilis, garlic, and ginger. Though you don’t need a wok to prepare this, it’s really designed to benefit from one—the wok’s ability to cook large amounts of food in an extremely hot temperature makes it perfectly suited for this quick dinner.
The dish is further enhanced with the classic ingredients of sugar, rice wine, and soy sauce. But the most important part is how fast this all comes together—basically by the time you’ve done all that, the recipe is done! Because of how quickly this meal cooks, it’s vitally important to prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking anything—the beauty of wok cooking! Throw this kung pao chicken recipe together and serve with fried noodles or just plain white rice for the perfect last minute meal!