Asian Pasta is an adaptation of the traditional Italian pasta according to the Asian tastes which includes vibrant, spicy versions of the dish. The most commonly used ingredients to achieve such tastes include soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic and spices like cumin, fenugreek, red chili powder, coriander and curry powder. Garam masala or hot Indian spice mix is used to prepare the spicy Indian versions. Long pasta shapes are the most commonly used variety known as 'noodles'. They form an important part of the diet in countries like China, Japan and Thailand, and may be of the wheat or rice variety. Coconut milk is another ingredient used extensively for preparing the pasta sauces in Asia. Meats and vegetables are used according to their availability, with coastal cuisines abounding in seafood pasta dishes.
Ingredients and Preparation
Asian pasta dishes consist of pasta such as long noodle shaped or tubular pasta (bow tie pasta and other versions are also used, though noodles are the most common), vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, cabbage and cauliflower, and meats like chicken, beef, pork or seafood. Garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter and cilantro are used for flavor. Indian versions include spices such as cumin, coriander, cloves, black peppers and red chili powder. Most pasta dishes consist of a sauce or gravy prepared with ingredients that are tossed with cooked pasta. Pasta may be stir fried or deep fried in different variations, and pasta soup dishes are also quite popular. A tomato based sauce is common to many Asian pasta recipes.
Pasta is served in various ways in Asia. It is most often served hot, with a garnish of coriander leaves, flaked coconut, chopped peanuts or grated cheese. It may also be served as a starter, side or main dish, with accompaniments of meat or veggies.
Some of the most popular variations of Asian pasta dishes are:-
- Thai Pasta in Peanut Sauce: This consists of a peanut sauce made by using peanut oil. This sauce, which may also be made with peanut butter, serves as a pasta sauce for various Thai dishes.
- Pad Thai Pasta or Phat Thai Noodles: This is a dish made with stir fried rice noodles, tamarind juice, fish sauce, eggs and red chili pepper. Various other ingredients like shrimp, tofu, chicken or bean sprouts may be included. It is garnished with crushed peanuts and cilantro and served with Thai condiments.
- Dandan Noodles: These belong to the Chinese Sichuan cuisine, and consist of noodles in a spicy sauce made with chili oil, Sichuan pepper, minced pork and preserved vegetables.
- Chow Mein : This is a popular Chinese dish of stir fried noodles, which has also been adopted by the American cuisine.
- Vegetarian Indian Pasta: Since a large percentage of the Indian population is vegetarian, many versions of this variant abound. They usually contain fresh vegetables like carrots, green beans, bell peppers, cauliflower, mushrooms and zucchini. A tomato sauce made with oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and Indian spices is served with this dish.