How is Halloween celebrated across Asia?

October 29, 2015 9:57 am

The spooky season is upon us: pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, scary movies and bats in shop windows. That’s in America and the UK, anyway. In Europe, the celebrations go hand in hand with the more sombre Catholic festivals of All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day on the 1st and 2nd of November. But what about Asia? Is there anything to celebrate? And if there is, how’s it done? As in Catholic Europe, Halloween in Asia is a time to remember loved ones who have passed away - and the specific traditions differ from country to country. China and Hong Kong In China and Hong Kong, it’s called Zhong Yuan Jie or Yu Lan Jie, the Night of the Hungry Ghosts. The celebrations see offerings of water and food left for the dead, and lanterns are lit to guide their spirits across the land of the living. Pilgrims...

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The weird and wonderful world of Japanese theme restaurants

October 26, 2015 1:35 pm

For those living in the West, the bright and colourful pictures of neon-clad Japan reflect a wonderful and sometimes strange image. When the subject of Japanese food is mentioned, many westerners would struggle to come up with more than “sushi” and “sake”. There is, of course, much more to Japanese food than that. After the recession in the the 1990’s, the early 2000s began to see a pickup in the food sector in Japan, but perhaps not in the way you might expect. Real restaurant innovations began to show through and it was these that were drawing the biggest crowds.

Theme restaurants began to light the way for a new eating experience in Japan. Robots, cats, total automation, prison hospitals and ninjas all ruled the night. The innovation was simply that people wanted more than just food, they wanted...

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Soy sauce – it’s not all the same

October 23, 2015 10:11 am

There was a time when British supermarket shelves were home to a single type of soy sauce – dark, mysterious, exotic and not terribly authentic. In the years that followed, British shoppers were spoilt for choice between the glamorous delights of ‘Light Soy Sauce’ and ‘Dark Soy Sauce’. Luckily, the growth of Pan-Asian cuisine in the UK has led to the increasing availability of authentic Asian ingredients, including a wide variety of soy sauces, representing the subtle but important differences between varieties of this staple ingredient across Asia.

The origin of soy sauce dates back to fifth century China where the fermented sauce was used to season food as an alternative to salt. Chinese influence in the region led to similar sauces appearing in other Asian cultures, including Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines. These sauces are largely (but not universally) made from...

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A fresh look at frozen in the Anuga 2015 Trend Zone

October 9, 2015 10:32 am

We may have hinted, once or twice, that we’re excited about the Anuga 2015 food trade fair in Cologne. For a frozen food producer anywhere in Europe it really is a must-attend, and has been for decades.

The first domestic frozen food retailers in Germany presented their products in household-sized packaging for the first time at Anuga 1955. Fast forward sixty years, and Germany is spending 12.8 billion euros on frozen food, with the average German consuming 42 kilograms a year and having over 17,000 items to choose from. The host market is huge, but not all markets are created equal. This year, the biggest growth is expected to be in Eastern Europe and Asia, and producers attending Anuga will have the first crack at impressing buyers from these parts of the world. On trend Anuga’s impact, and the opportunity...

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Cardamom: the queen of spices

October 7, 2015 10:36 am

So inspired by this spice, Chef Manju Choudhury named his LA restaurant “Cardamom” in its honour. Asked why, he told LA Magazine: “The green of the cardamom represents freshness. It’s used in our starters, mains, sides, desserts, and drinks. Cardamom gives great flavor and fragrance to any dish, and also has medicinal properties. It’s one of my favorite spices.” Its warm, sweet flavour is instantly recognisable.

Cardamom sits happily in both sweet and savoury dishes and has a range of nutritional and health benefits. When used in starters and mains, you’ll find it in Indian curries, Chinese stews and Vietnamese soups. Middle Eastern puddings and Asian sweet bread and biscuits see this smoky spice paired with sugar and rosewater, such is its versatility. And it’s been part of Asian cuisine for centuries. History and location Originally three types of cardamom existed, but...

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Anuga 2015 – setting the scene for frozen food

October 2, 2015 2:52 pm

Anuga 2015 is the 33rd Anuga trade fair, hosted in Cologne by Koelnmesse and organised by the Federal Association of the German Retail Grocery Trade, the Federation of the German Food & Drinks Industries, and the Consumer Goods Forum. Access is exclusive to trade visitors and decision-makers within the food industry, and the focus is global: 86 per cent of the exhibitors and 66 per cent of the visitors come from outside Germany.

The key concept of Anuga is ‘10 fairs in one’. On the ground, the fair is organised by market sector, with exhibitors in ten categories that include Meat, Dairy, Bakery and one or two less obvious ones like Retail Technology. Conceptually, though, the fair is structured around 10 trends that are currently shaping the future of food. The idea is to encourage cross-pollination of ideas between the sectors, show what’s going on, and...

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