(BPT) - The preparation of a good meal can be about much more than satisfying your familyâ€™s hunger. Not only can the process be fun, creative and rewarding, but it can be a meaningful way to share and learn about different cultures.
The opportunity to share heritage is one reason celebrity chef and restaurateur Roy Yamaguchi takes great pride in one of his recent accomplishments â€” creating his first restaurants at sea on board MSC Cruisesâ€™ MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview. Roy was personally involved in designing every aspect of Asian Market Kitchen from the authentic pan-Asian menus to the design, dÃ©cor and other elements of the space. Much of his inspiration for key dishes came from memories of his childhood.
â€œMy father was very passionate about cooking, and heâ€™s the one who always used to take us to different parts of Japan for us to experience food in many different ways,â€ he said. â€œWe both shared the same passion â€¦ that food is life.â€
Yamaguchi is far from alone in his passion for authentic cuisine, which is one reason why MSC Cruises chose to partner with the pan-Asian pioneer.
â€œI was excited about taking on this new venture and bringing my cooking to a completely new space,â€ Yamaguchi explained. â€œAnd, it felt like the perfect fit since MSC Cruises and I share a passion for authenticity, but I was able to bring something totally unique to the table.â€
Interested in following Yamaguchiâ€™s lead by recreating some of your favorite Asian flavors at home? Consider the following suggestions for whipping up tasty and satisfying Asian-inspired dishes that are sure to please.
* Assemble appropriate tools. Your basics will likely include a wok, a sharp set of knives, a few bamboo steamers and a Chinese cleaver that features a sharp edge for cutting and a blunt edge for pounding and tenderizing meat.
* Seek the freshest, most authentic ingredients you can find in your region. Fortunately, many U.S. supermarket chains now cater to consumer demand by offering entire departments devoted to packaged Asian foods and ensuring their meat and produce sections are stocked with common ingredients.
* Wash, dry and diagonally chop vegetables ahead of time. When cooking, start with dense varieties such as broccoli, carrots and cabbage that take longer to cook than items like bok choy, snow peas or bean sprouts.
* Asian cooking is largely about combining meats, veggies and seasonings that appeal to your personal palate. Yamaguchi said, for example, that he likes to substitute watermelon for fish or tuna in a pokÃ© appetizer served by MSC Cruises.
* Follow cooking directions for different rice varieties, since the shape, texture and starch content will dictate technique. For example, Japanese medium grain rice for sushi must be washed before steaming to remove dust and extra starch, and sticky rice should be pre-soaked overnight prior to steaming. Fried rice may be tastier if you start with cooked, cold, day-old rice.
* Avoid over-seasoning. Err on the side of caution with unfamiliar ingredients, since many Asian flavorings can overpower when used too liberally.
You can find Roy Yamaguchiâ€™s Asian Market Kitchen restaurants on board MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview. Learn more atÂ MSCCruises.com.