Author Archives for Ian Nye-Webber

About Ian Nye-Webber

As a Cafe Asia scribbler and full-time Business Analyst, Ian strikes the perfect balance between business and pleasure. When he's not stuffing his face with delicious Asian cuisine, he's likely watching movies or reading.

European-Asian food trends in 2017

December 13, 2016 5:25 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

First there was fast fashion, now there’s fast food – and we don’t mean tepid burgers and limp fries. We’re talking about the speed of food innovation. Food trends are moving from niche to mainstream in a matter of months. On-trend eaters are moving beyond sriracha and goji berries, looking further afield for the latest taste sensation. Don’t think it’s millennials leading the charge either – food trends mirror travel trends, with all generations expanding their horizons on both the plane and the plate. You may like: What are the key snacking trends in Europe? All this means there is money to be made if restaurants and food retailers can predict what’s be hot in the next twelve months. We’ve taken a look at the tea-leaves to come up with four foodie favourites with an Asian angle we predict will make it big in 2017. Super spices As the litany of superfoods grows, attention will switch from ultra-green vegetables and obscure South American berries to the healing power of spices. Turmeric, that golden Asian staple packed full of anti-inflammatory curcumin, is likely to pop up in more and more menu items. It won’t just be eaten either, with turmeric shots and... View Article

Dim sum

Decoding dim sum

March 4, 2016 1:45 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

We’ve all been there. The lunchtime Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet, with a dozen small but perfectly formed delights. But which to choose? What’s in them? And why are they just so darned pretty? These are dim sum and they have been charming Chinese diners for a thousand years. Let us demystify this Far Eastern staple, so you don’t feel so dim at the dim sum trolley. It all started with a cup of tea. The drinking of tea is referred to as “yum cha” in Cantonese – which is a name we can all agree with. Whereas we might indulge in a Hob Nob or Ginger Nut with our milky brew, the Chinese (being much more civilised in all things tea-related) wanted a more sophisticated snack to accompany their drink of choice. You may like: Soy sauce – it’s not all the same Some time in the third century, when it became clear that tea can aid digestion, tea houses along the Silk Road began to accompany their ‘yum cha’ with small, delicate dishes referred to as ‘dim sum’, essentially inventing tapas centuries before the Spanish. Depending on who you ask, ‘dim sum’ translates as either the descriptive ‘to eat a little... View Article


Celebrating Christmas in Asia

December 15, 2015 7:30 am Published by Leave your thoughts

You may have noticed from the subtle hints in the media and the lights adorning your neighbours’ houses that it is nearly Christmas. The traditional ingredients of a British family Christmas, the mince pies, the pudding, the red-robed Santa and the occasional squabble, are weaved tightly into our culture. But what about further afield? It’s not all trees, tinsel and turkey. You may like: 10 of the most popular Japanese snack foods Here we take a look at how Christmas is celebrated across Asia and you’ll see that some traditions have links back to the West, whilst others are more homegrown. Śubh krisamas We will begin our tour in India, where the influence of British culture, thanks to two hundred years of colonial rule, has left its mark on Christmas celebrations. India’s smallest state, Goa, in the west of the country has the largest percentage of Christians (mostly Catholic) and it is here that celebrations of Christmas are most noticeable, despite Christmas Day being a national holiday across the country. Traditional European adornments, such as a Nativity scene or a Christmas tree, can be found in some Indian homes, although the tree is either an imitation pine tree or branches of... View Article

Ginger – warmth and fragrance, sweet or savoury

Ginger – warmth and fragrance, sweet or savoury

December 4, 2015 8:32 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Rogers, nuts and tabby cats. What have they all got in common? They’re all Ginger. Don’t worry though, this is not going to be a piece about Ron Weasley or Chris Evans. This is all about the vivid golden-orange spice after which their flame-coloured locks are named. For many years, the only ginger found in British kitchens was the ground, pungent spice essential to a wide range of baked goods, from brandy snaps to ginger cake and Smartie-buttoned gingerbread men. You may like: Turmeric – the original super-spice No tea party in the 1950s would be complete without a few slices of parkin, a plateful of the aforementioned ginger nuts and lashings of ginger beer for the kids. But let’s go back further in time, and halfway across the world, to find out more about its origins. Easy to grow The European use of ginger, in its dried, ground, powdered form, is a world away from the way it is used in its native Asia. Indigenous to southern China, the cultivation of ginger spread across the continent, with India now the biggest producer of the crop. Ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family (and is the plant after which the... View Article


Turmeric – the original super-spice

November 7, 2015 3:11 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

It aids digestion, is great for post-workout recovery and can help to fight cancer. Are we talking about the latest hipster superfood, exclusively grown by small tribes at the at the foot of the Andes? No, we’re talking about something you may already be eating – we’re talking about turmeric. Turmeric has been a staple of cuisine on the Indian sub-continent since 3000 B.C, so it is no surprise that India accounts for 80% of world turmeric production. You may like: Soy sauce – it’s not all the same Growing up to a metre tall and with pinkish blooms, turmeric belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and as such is related to that other staple of Asian cookery, ginger. Like ginger, it is the root of the turmeric plant that provides the fragrant spice, which adds warmth and earthiness to many dishes. Beyond Asia We most associate turmeric with Indian food – it is, after all, an essential ingredient in many curry recipes. As well as giving an earthy depth to a Chicken Madras, the vivid yellow/orange of turmeric is often used to give Pilau Rice a golden colour. Outside of India, it can be found in other Asian cuisines, such as... View Article


Soy sauce – it’s not all the same

October 23, 2015 10:11 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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. You may like: Cardamom: the queen of spices 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 a liquor of boiled soybeans and roasted wheat, which is fermented with salt, yeast, and other cultures, before being pressed to extract the brown savoury sauce. Big in Japan When soy sauce arrived in Japan in the seventh century, it quickly spread across the islands, with each region developing its... View Article