What Happened to Asian Food?

I have long loved the simplicity of Asian food, beginning with my first taste of a Macrobiotic inspired dish. A friend had just arrived home, fresh from New York City and full of his adventure and this new food discovery. The year was 1970, and on a tiny gas stove top, in two aluminum pots, he proceeded to cook carrots in heavy, dark soy sauce, and undercook brown rice. Then, in a small rice bowl he layered the rice, then the carrots, pouring any remaining sauce over the top and finishing with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

I remember that dish because it was so terribly salty, and I asked if he was sure it called for that much soy sauce. At the time the best I could manage cooking was a killer omelet loaded with Velveeta cheese or anything containing hamburger and Campbells soup. And yet, that simple bowl of rice and salty carrots had a profound affect on me. For here was something I had never tasted before, something chewy, with a depth and hidden sweetness that took me by surprise the longer I chewed.

At the time the Macrobiotic movement had just made its way into New York from Boston. Japanese teachers Michio Kushi and his wife Aveline were instructing young Americans on how to balance their excessive sugar intake with a high quality sea salt or soy sauce used in cooking vegetable and bean recipes. Much has shifted since then, with less salt now recommended in Macrobiotic diets.

With the popularity of Asian cuisine in America traditional recipes now call for too much sugar as found in dipping sauces, teriyaki recipes and even in some soups there is this overpowering, teeth coating sweetness. Yes, a touch of sweetness may be necessary to balance the salty, bitter, pungent, astringent, and sour flavors in a meal, but no one flavor should dominate the others. Only when Americans can reduce our sugar intake and find a balance between all the necessary flavors, can ancient, traditional recipes return to nurturing our bodies rather than feeding our sugar addiction.

To see for yourself how a dish of balanced flavors can be both satisfying and calming to your nervous system try this quick summer noodle dish with sesame sauce. Feel free to pass the recipe on to your favorite Asian restaurant and let’s see if they take the hint.

Cold Soba Noodles w/ Sesame Sauce
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 package Japanese soba noodles
1 clove garlic,
˝ cup tahini (sesame butter)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave syrup
1 tablespoon brown rice or apple cider vinegar
˝ cup green tea or water
1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)
3 green onions, sliced
˝ red pepper, seeded and sliced thin
6 teaspoons toasted pumpkin seeds.

1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, rinse, cool and set aside.
2. In a small food processor combine the garlic, tahini, soy sauce, agave, vinegar, tea and chili oil.
3. Puree until smooth, adding more tea as needed for a sauce like consistency.
4. Spoon over cooked soba noodles and garnish with red peppers, green onions and pumpkin seeds.

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle designed to achieve optimal health and well being, based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics videos and classes, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia’s credentials include holistic nutritional counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker.

Quigley is the author of seven books on health and nutrition, including:The Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, The Complete Idiots Guide to Detoxing Your Body, The Everything SuperFoods Book, and Empowering Your Life With Meditation, available on Amazon.com. To view her website go to: www.deliaquigley.com


Kristen R.
Kristen R9 years ago

Love all Asian cuisine!

Miguel D.
Past Member 9 years ago



Trish R.
Trish R.9 years ago

LUV Asian food !!!

poepiesnoepie k.
Past Member 9 years ago

I'm Asian ..and surely love my own style of cooking... Asian foods?? the best!

Heather A.
Heather A9 years ago

i've been wanting to try out soba noodles..

Jane L9 years ago


Caralien S.
Caralien S9 years ago

This meal looks good, but I'd cheat and make it easier (soba, soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, carrots).

What is amazing is that the average lifespan of an American is 78 years, considering the standard American diet (SAD). I couldn't find anything regarding average lifespan of macrobiotics (except potentially dubious references to people who lived 145-208 years!) and a claim that a macrobiotic diet could prevent cancer in smokers, although the Kushis died of cancer (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/07/28/macrobiotics.aspx).

Eat well, but be wary of outlandish claims.

Jennifer R.
Jennifer R9 years ago

Actually, macrobiotics are not truly and Asian style of food preparation, although it does borrow from certain Asian food preparation and content styles. It was invented in America!

Genevieve H.
Genevieve H9 years ago

In Japan, a traditional topping would be more likely to be thinly sliced cucumber strips, thin strips of nori and roasted sesame seeds. Also, rather than using tahini, the Japanese would grind roasted sesame seeds themselves and mix them with soya sauce, a bit of vinegar and a bit of white sugar. It's a very simple summer dish and does not have to be fancy. They would not use the chilli oil either.

Audra R.
Audra R9 years ago

Asian food!!! To die for!!! Yum! All those veggies, spices, etc. Mandarin, etc., the spicy kind!!!