January 1, 2014

Savor the Asian flavor

7.4 min read| Published On: January 1st, 2014|

By Akers Editorial

Savor the Asian flavor

7.4 min read| Published On: January 1st, 2014|


How about a little history lesson with that duck sauce or potsticker? Villager Yukiko Moriyama-Holman teaches more than just cooking. She wants her students to understand Asian cuisine and culture.

Taking a cooking class with Yukiko Moriyama-Holman involves more than learning about food and utensils. She explains how a country’s history and geography continue to influence the way dishes are prepared. The Village of Sunset Pointe resident also believes understanding the way dishes were developed makes cooking more compelling.

“Each country in the Far East has a different history; therefore, they develop different dishes,” says Yukiko, who graduated from Japan Women’s University in Tokyo with a degree in home economics. “Even if they use the same ingredients, they use different condiments with the same meats. Each country develops quite a different taste based on this.”

Born in Japan and raised in Seattle, Yukiko has written 11 books about Asian cooking, including the highly rated Favorite Japanese Dishes Quick and Easy and Japanese Cuisine for Everyone. She also co-authored the book, Korean Cooking for Everyone.  She began teaching Japanese cooking in Seattle during the 1960s after completing postgraduate work at the University of Oregon. She retired in 2005 from Lake Washington Technical College.

At The Villages Lifelong Learning College, Yukiko teaches classes in Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese cooking. She shares how the unique and interesting Asian cuisines developed.

“For instance, Japan is an island so most of the dishes are prepared with seafood,” Yukiko explains. “Rice is also a major influence on Japanese cuisine.”

Introduced from Korea around 400 B.C., rice became the staple food of Japan. With the added restrictions from Buddhism, which prohibits consuming meat and fish, the Japanese had a tasty vegetarian diet. Over the years, they became more resourceful with rice, using it to make paper, wine, fuel, and even building materials. When soybeans and wheat were introduced from China, those became significant ingredients in Japanese cooking. More recently, Japanese beef known as Wagyu has become popular. Cows are fed beer and grass and are massaged, which creates a very tender and marbled beef.

In Korea, legumes are the major crop and are used to make tofu. Soybean sprouts are cooked as a vegetable, and whole seasoned soybeans make a great side dish. However, the many uses for soybeans don’t stop there. Soymilk and okara, or soy pulp, are used to thicken stews and porridges. In addition, fermented condiments like soybean paste, Korean soy sauce, and chili pepper paste are soy-based.

Nevertheless, beef reigns supreme in Korea. “They use grilled beef and barbecue types. They also like to incorporate hoisin sauce in their dishes, which is not like Japanese soy sauce,” Yukiko explains. “Hoisin is purple in color and more like a paste. Koreans also use a lot of chilies in their cooking to keep warm.”

She believes Vietnamese cooking is perhaps the most interesting of all the cultures because of the sheer number of outside influences on their cuisine. The flavors and sauces are different for each region of the country.

“Vietnam was taken over by so many different countries,” Yukiko explains. “Northern Vietnamese dishes were influenced by China, while French missionaries settled in the middle of Vietnam. Residents there use French bread and fish sauce with their dishes.”

Even pho, the national dish of Vietnam, is different in each region. This soup consists of rice noodles, broth, herbs, meat, and vegetables.

Unlike the Japanese, the Vietnamese eat very little rice; however, they developed rice paper and created fresh spring rolls. Fillings for spring rolls can include fresh shrimp, meat, ribs, and bean sprouts, and they can be served as an appetizer. Making spring rolls is the one class Yukiko teaches where every student makes the same dish.

“In most of my classes, I divide students into groups and they prepare different dishes so the class can taste a variety,” Yukiko says. “But the spring rolls are not easy, so I walk around to watch them.”

She also teaches Thai cooking, which often includes many different flavors and unusual ingredients. “Thailand has a number of meat dishes, and they enjoy using curry flavors and lemon grass, depending on the dishes. They also use chilies and kaffir lime leaves, which look like camellia leaves. The leaves are very green, and give a distinct flavor to the stir-fry,” Yukiko says.

“I love her knowledge of spices,” says Villager Alexis Hansen who has taken Yukiko’s classes. “She even told us where we could buy what we needed.”

Students in Yukiko’s class also learn sauces are not the only things that differ from country to country. Each culture has its own style of chopsticks. The Japanese use bamboo, wood, and black lacquer. Each family member has his or her own set. “Father has the largest ones; the wife’s set is a little shorter and a different color; and the children have short ones,” Yukiko explains. “While the Japanese use chopsticks just for cooking, the Chinese use very long chopsticks to eat. Koreans, however, prepare a lot of barbecue, so they use stainless steel.”

Table manners are another subject Yukiko covers in her cooking classes. Eating a meal in a foreign country may put a diner in an unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable situation, so she wants her students prepared.

“In Japan, they pick up their rice bowl or soup bowl and bring it to the mouth to eat. You may also hear a slurping noise, which is considered taboo in Western dining but means you are enjoying your food in Japan,” Yukiko says and smiles.

“Yukiko has a passion for cooking just as I do,” says student Carol Sylvia. “She has traveled a lot; therefore, she was able tell us about what she found in foreign markets so we could know what to expect if we ever traveled there.”

A resident of The Villages for eight years, Yukiko enjoys golfing and yoga when she’s not cooking. She also has a favorite American dish. “I like New England clam chowder,” she says. “The Japanese make a clear soup with clam, which is so different. That cream in the American version makes it taste good.”

And like every good cook, she has a simple attitude she embraces with every dish she prepares: “I love to see people eat.”

Teriyaki Beef Rolls

Yukiko_Moriyama_Holman-0114VS-005(4 servings)

1 pound boneless tenderloin or sirloin beef
4 asparagus stalks or green beans, cooked
4 green onions, white parts

Teriyaki Sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for stir-fry beef rolls


  1. Slice beef into paper-thin slices, or ask butcher to slice thin from roast meat.
  2. Cut vegetables into the same length as the beef slices and place on slices.
  3. Roll up slices and secure with a toothpick.
  4. Heat skillet and add vegetable oil.
  5. Sauté rolled up beef, shaking the pan for even cooking until light brown.
  6. Mix all Teriyaki Sauce ingredients and pour over beef.
  7. Cover and cook 4–5 minutes over low heat.
  8. Remove slices from skillet. Take out toothpicks.
  9. Cut beef rolls into serving pieces.

Soba Noodles Salad with Lemongrass Dressing

Yukiko_Moriyama_Holman-0114VS-006(4 servings)

14 ounces dry soba noodles
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/4 cup shredded carrots
2 cups lettuce leaves of your choice
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
6 to 8 ounces crabmeat or cooked cocktail shrimp, shelled and deveined
Mint leaves (optional)

Lemongrass Dressing:

1 tablespoon hot sauce or Thai curry paste
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/3 cup lime juice
4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemongrass, finely chopped

1/4 cup cilantro
1 tablespoon green onions, chopped


  1. In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add soba noodles as you do spaghetti noodles. Stir noodles constantly to avoid boil over for 4–5 minutes.
  2. Drain and immerse in chilled water.
  3. Drain and set noodles aside.
  4. Mix together salad dressing ingredients
  5. Mix cooked soba noodles and vegetables together. Add dressing to mixture.
  6. Serve immediately with garnishes on top

Lemongrass Pork Chops

Yukiko_Moriyama_Holman-0114VS-004(2–4 servings)



2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lemongrass, chopped
1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Dipping Sauce:

3 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon hot pepper


  1. Mix all marinade ingredients together.
  2. Marinate pork chops for 10 minutes, or longer.
  3. Broil or grill until pork chops are done, turning once. (Approximately 8 minutes per side.)

Note: Beef or chicken can be used for this recipe.

Sticky Miso Teriyaki Chicken

Yukiko_Moriyama_Holman-0114VS-003(4–6 servings)


12 chicken wings, tips discarded and wings split, or chicken thighs cut into serving pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoons sake or cooking wine
1/3 cup miso (light amber color, mild flavored)
2 teaspoons lime juice from fresh squeezed lime
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 Thai chili, hot, seeds removed and minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar


  1. Mix oil, soy sauce, and sake or cooking wine in plastic bag. Marinate chicken wings for one hour, or longer.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray nonstick canola oil on a broiler pan.
  3. Place marinated chicken wings on pan. Bake for 40 minutes, turning once.
  4. In a small pan, mix miso, lime juice, grated ginger, fish sauce, minced Thai chili, and brown sugar.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring or whisking until sugar is dissolved and it becomes slightly thickened.
  6. Brush glaze over chicken wing and continues to bake for another 10 minutes until wings are golden brown.
  7. Transfer to serving platter, garnish with cilantro leaves on top, and serve with lime slices or wedges.

Golden Deep-Fried Spring Rolls

Yukiko_Moriyama_Holman-0114VS-002(Makes 14–16 rolls)

1 package spring roll wrappers (egg roll wrappers, about 7-inch square)


1 pound ground lean meat, chicken, pork, beef, or turkey
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup fresh mushrooms or softened shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 green onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrot sticks
1 cup cooked rice sticks
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. Heat wok to medium high heat; swirl in two tablespoons of oil.
  2. Add garlic and stir-fry for 20 seconds.
  3. Add ground meat and cook for two minutes. The add vegetables, soy sauce, and cooking wine. Sprinkle cornstarch over mixture and stir well.
  4. Toss and cook for another minute.
  5. Remove wok from stove and allow filing to cool.
  6. Strain excess liquid.

To make spring rolls:

  1. Place a wrapper in a flat surface.
  2. Spread two tablespoons of filing in lower portion of wrapper.
  3. Fold in lower corner to cover filing and then fold sides in to overlap.
  4. Moisten upper portion of wrapper with water using a soft brush and roll up entire roll. Place roll seam side down. Repeat process with other wrappers.
  5. Heat oil for deep-frying in wok to 375 degrees. Drop each roll in oil and deep fry until golden brown, about two minutes.

Make this yummy dipping sauce to pair with your spring rolls:

Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce


1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 tablespoon chopped leek
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 carrot, shredded


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then serve.

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