Asian Inspired Gift Ideas for Christmas 2012

Are you still searching for Asian-inspired gift ideas for the people on your list for this Christmas? May I suggest a few options for you to consider?

Food and drinks always transcend culture and boundaries. There is nothing more appreciated than buying a gift to do with food, drinks or cooking, isn’t it?

Let’s start with what Asians can’t live without. You guess it, rice. Rice is consumed almost in every meal in Asian countries. Those Asian food lovers in your life may not go to that extreme, but I bet they’d cook rice a few times a week as a base of the Asian cuisine.

zojirushi-ns-tsc10-5-5-cup-rice-cooker

zojirushi-ns-tsc10-5-5-cup-rice-cooker

Rice Cooker

Rice cookers are staples in many households regardless of Asian or not. Choosing a perfect rice cooker is a science as well as an art. Rice cookers are just as sophisticated as many other household appliances nowadays. Different heating technologies are in the design element as well different features on how to use and clean.

Brands of rice cookers have sprouted from everywhere, American, Korean, the most prominent, Japanese. Price is another variable in choosing a rice cooker. You can get one for under $20, but the advanced model may cost you over $300 or more with the median price between $100 to $200. Many of the bestselling rice cookers have been reviewed at this site. Feel free to browse around by review under Rice Cooker Reviews, by Price Range or by comparison under Compare Rice Cookers.

Wok

wok-shop-carbon-steel-hand-hammered-14-inch-wok-img

wok-shop-carbon-steel-hand-hammered-14-inch-wok-img

After he or she cooks the rice, the next would be a wok to make stir-fries to complete an Asian meal. Wok was originated from China as one of the indispensable kitchen aids.

Beyond the general perception for the use of a wok, you can do many other things with it such as braising a cheaper cut of meat over low heat and for hours; use it as a deep-frying pan to whip up some crispy chickens, or chicken wings with pungent Asian sauce; toast nuts to add to your salad or as snacks in between meals; many also use it to make desserts or making popcorns. As you can see, versatility is the beauty here.

Choosing a wok follows similar decision points as you would in any other household appliance. You need to have an actual or mental checklist such as:

  • What’s the right size for the person you are buying? Does he or she have other members in the family? Is entertaining part of their lives? The median size for a wok is between 10 to 14 inches in diameter and 4 to 5 inches deep.
  • Material: Woks are made of diverse materials such as carbon steel, stainless steel, non-stick aluminum, cast iron with or without enamel. Each material has its pluses and minuses. You’d have to factor in how the person would use it for coupled with the heat source at home. The best heat source would be a gas stove as electric cooktops don’t do much to make a perfect stir-fry due to the poor heat retention.
  • Stove-Top or Electric: Once again, it’s a matter of preferences. Electric is portable and may be a great tool for someone who lives in an apartment. You can use the electric wok anywhere inside or out. If a stovetop kind is your preferred choice, then you want to make sure the bottom of the wok is flat or you can buy a wok ring to fit the wok if round.
  • Brand and Price Point: There is no shortage of brands in the wok market space: Chinese, American, French, etc. The price goes up or down depending on the brand strength, reputation and perceived value. It starts from $20 to $200 or more.
japanese-spring-blossom-rice-bowl-set-4

japanese-spring-blossom-rice-bowl-set-4

Rice Bowl

The dinner is almost ready to be served. Do they have the perfect rice bowls to serve dinner with? It’s still amazes me when I see people struggling to finagle to get the rice from the bowl to their mouths with a pair of chopsticks.

Many of my American friends wonder how it looks so easy for us Asians. For one, we’ve been practicing this act for many years. Two is a more important reason that people don’t know about, the right proportioned rice bowl. What I meant is the base, the diameter and the depth have to be designed in unison to be able to cradle with one hand while making it effortless to scoop every last grain of rice out of the bowl.

Rice bowls can be plain as well as fancy in material and design such as porcelain, ceramics, solid color, floral or some other design style. The best rice bowls I’ve found so far are those made in Japan. They epitomize the best in style, quality and functionality. And they are affordable,too.

japanese-cast-iron-tea-kettle-burgandy-red

japanese-cast-iron-tea-kettle-burgandy-red

Tea Kettle

If your friend or family members follow the Asian rituals, drinking tea is not just a morning routine for Asians. It accompanies every meal like ice water to Americans. You may be aware of the many benefits of tea such as anti-oxidant properties in green tea that may also help break down fats from a meal for easy digestion.

Getting a tea kettle for them will be sure to remind them of your thoughtful gesture every morning when they are making a cup of tea.

Without an exception, tea kettles are made of different materials and in different styles and colors. Besides, some also whistle to signal the boiling water. You can choose from stovetop or electric ones.

zojirushi-ep-rac-electric-skillet

zojirushi-ep-rac-electric-skillet

Hot Pot

If you really want to wow them, then get them a Shabu Shabu Pot or a Hot Pot. Shabu Shabu is the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese Hot Pot. It’s a one-pot meal with assortments of meats, seafood, vegetables, condiments and special sauce. Shabu Shabu refers the “swishing” sound when one dips the meat or veggies in the hot pot of liquid, generally made of chicken or bone broth. Since all the ingredients are sliced paper-thin, it doesn’t take too many swishings to get them cooked. You then dip your choice of meat, seafood and veggies in a thick and savory sauce. Enjoy with an audible slurp (just kidding)! Sounds pretty simple, right?

This is the one meal that has such a universal appeal. I’ve cooked it for my most conservative¬† friends and family members. No matter how limiting their dietary exposure has been, they all fall in love with this meal. It’s even more satisfying to cook it in the winter months, preferably with a winter wonderland setting. This is a family or “communal” meal that lasts for hours. It’s a perfect occasion for some family bonding time.

I hope I’ve inspired you with a few choices for Asian inspired gifts. If you’d order online, I recommend you do it early as inventory tends to run out for many products as the holiday is getting closer.

Happy Shopping and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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