If you’ve ever eaten at an Asian, Thai, Korean, or another regional Asian restaurant, you might have noticed that practically all of the menu entrees lack cheese. You could be wondering: “do Asians eat cheese?” and why there is no cheese in Asian cuisine like many Westerners do.
Why Does Asian Food Not Contain Cheese?
To begin with, Asians have never been particularly fond of dairy, much less cheese. Due to their widespread lactose intolerance, Asians have always shunned dairy products. Given that dairy food is meant to promote growth and is unquestionably beneficial to human health, I find this situation a little weird.
So why isn’t cheese used in Asian food? Let’s examine the subject more closely.
Asian Diets Don’t Go Well With Cheese
As they age, the majority of Asians experience a low incidence of their gene and lactose persistence. Dairy consumption becomes tough for them, and cheese becomes uncomfortable for their general health.
Therefore, a lot of dietary advice advises adult Asians to never consume dairy products. Asians’ poor climate, storage, and transportation conditions are the main causes of their high rate of lactose intolerance.
However, children can consume dairy foods. I was surprised by the size of the dairy section—which consisted primarily of yogurt and milk—in Asian grocery stores. So, we can say the digestion of Asian adults is far more delicate than their children.
Since many people in Asian cultures avoid eating anything with a dairy product, they don’t see the necessity to include much cheese in their cooking. And that is why most Asians don’t often eat cheese.
Adult Westerners Developed Lactose Intolerance Naturally
As people become older, I’ve noticed that many Europeans become more fond of cheese and other dairy products. They have significant lactose persistence, unlike Asians, therefore digesting is not a problem for them. This, according to historians, may be the result of our forefathers emigrating to northern European regions. Thus, their requirement for protein grew with time. There were only a few animals, so tracking them down was unfortunately out of the question. So it was unable to make up for the protein deficit.
They began looking for alternative methods and strategies to meet their demand for protein as a result. They eventually decided on cheese because, really, is there a quicker and better method to gain protein than from cheese?
In addition, despite not using cheese in any of its dishes, Asia nonetheless has a wide selection of its own cheeses accessible throughout the region.
As you can see, Asian cuisine still uses a wide variety of cheeses, despite the fact that they may not look like the typical western cheese. We do eat cheese, even though the majority of us are lactose intolerant.
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Do Asians Eat Cheese?
For all that reasons, you must assume that Asians don’t eat cheese at all!
No! Asians do consume cheese! In reality, modern Asian consumers are increasingly fond of cheese-based cuisine, particularly those who reside in populous cities like Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, and Shanghai. China, Japan, and Korea is doing incredibly well for cheese!
I think there are various contributing factors to this predicament:
Over the past few years, there has been significant growth in the number of upper-middle-class and wealthy households that can purchase imported goods like cheese.
The younger generations in Asia, those who were born after 1980, are more ready to adopt western-style cooking and cuisines and have typically taken over as the market’s largest customer segment, increasing demand for cheese-related products.
Asian e-commerce and logistical capabilities have made it much simpler for consumers today to access imported goods like cheese, which were once only available to the wealthy.
Another crucial element contributing to cheese’s popularity in Asia is the widespread knowledge of its nutritional advantages. Many Asian people think that eating cheese can help them eat more protein, calcium, vitamins, and other essential minerals.
Cheese is now more often used in Asian cuisine in a variety of inventive ways that also enhance its flavor. I tell you what. It is effective! The majority of the popular cheese dishes in China, such as “cheese-tea,” “cheese-chicken-chop,” “cheese-pot,” and “cheese-meat-ball,” were invented or modified by locals.
Does Asian Food Contain Cheese?
There is no cheese from China that is known. It is commonly known that most Asian people believe that cheese is not typically consumed by Asian people. Since they are no longer interested in these cheeses, people in the south and east of the country do not include cheese in their regular daily diet.
Which Asian Dish Contains Cheese?
Yunnan food is frequently referred to as Cheeca cuisine, much like rushan cuisine. The term, which is frequently translated literally as milk fan and is found throughout the Bai area, denotes that it has been grilled “on the end of a stick.” This style of serving is frequently accompanied by honey, chocolate syrup, or fruit preserves.
Which Cheese Pairs Well With Asian Cuisine?
With mozzarella cheese, a few distinct Asian dishes can be made to taste good. Rice and spaghetti roasted in the oven will undoubtedly become staples of Hong Kong’s tea cuisine.
*** Read more: What To Serve With Egg Fried Rice: 31 Best Side Dishes
Asian Cheese You’ve Never Heard of
To claim that Asians never eat cheese would be a bit of an exaggeration. Despite not being a common ingredient in Asian cuisine, many varieties of cheese cultures have been observed to occasionally appear.
Given Asia’s size and diversity, it is not surprising that the continent is home to numerous cheese-related cultures. Here are seven Asian kinds of cheese you might not be familiar with to give you an idea:
#1. Chhurpi (Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal)
Chhurpi comes in not one, but two varieties! The first is the soft type, while the second is the hard type. But before you use your imagination too much, hard chhurpi is actually harder than regular hard cheese.
It is not derived from the cattle on your farm. This is made by the majority of Southeast Asians using yak milk. Some people would even assert that the end hard product is similar to chalk in that it is quite durable.
The soft version is my personal favorite because it has a nicer texture overall. In our culture, we choose this to substitute for rice while making curries.
#2. Chhena (Bangladesh, Northern India, and Nepal)
This cheese is native of Southeast Asia and is made either from cow’s milk or water buffalo milk. Chhena has a smooth, curd-like appearance.
As Asians, we adore using a cream topping on sweets, especially on rasgulla to make it look and taste finger-licking good.
#3. Rubing (Yunnan, China)
This fresh white cheese is made in the Yunnan province of China using goat or sheep milk in place of cow milk. Despite being widely used, it is mostly created by ethnic minorities.
Not to mention that it stands out from the competition due to its distinct ability to resist melting. Because of this, the majority of recipes calling for rubing involve grilling, frying and stirring with carrots, tomatoes, and broccoli, or steaming with rice wine.
#4. Paneer (India and Sri Lanka)
The most favored and well-known cheese in South East Asian culture may be paneer. I personally adore it because of the cheese’s semi-soft feel. Additionally, it is one of the most popular dairy products used in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine.
You should be aware that it does not use rennet because cows are highly revered in Hinduism. The fact that you do not have to age it is just one of the numerous factors contributing to its high demand.
Additionally, Paneer, an acid-set vegetarian cheese, matures quickly and doesn’t require several fortnights.
#5. Kesong Puti (Santa Cruz, Philippines)
Kesong Puti is originally from the Philippine town of Santa Cruz. Actually, the only reason this town is well known is for its cheese.
In addition, it originates from the same species of milk as Chhena: the water buffalo.
On the other hand, it tastes saltier than chhena. Not to add, this cheese is the subject of a whole festival here in the Philippines.
#6. Sakura (Hokkaido, Japan)
This particular cheese is soft and comes from Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan. Sakura is the first cheese from the Asian nation of Japan to receive widespread international praise. Unexpectedly, it also went on to win a gold medal at the Mountain Cheese Olympics in Switzerland.
Sakura is also distinct from standard mozzarella or cheddar since it is a white, creamy cheese that is enhanced with mountain cherry leaves. Surprisingly, Sakura in Japanese refers to cherry blossoms.
#7. Rushan cheese (Yunnan, China)
Asian people of some ethnic groups also make the Rushan cheese, which they prepare similarly to the Rubbing. The Yunnan Province of China is where the cheese is primarily from. They often prepare it from cow’s milk.
This is not your usual white cheese, either. Before deep-frying it, most people like to roll it on thin paper. Then they roll it up and stick it like a Popsicle. In fact, some websites with user reviews claim that the product tastes a lot like mozzarella.
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So, do Asians eat cheese? Asians, unlike Europeans, historically adapted to soy to supply their demand for protein instead of cheese. However, the primary cause is likely Asians’ lactose intolerance. Because they have been content with cheese for so long, Europeans have overcome their intolerance. Because they are less exposed to cheese, Asians have not yet overcome this. But now, with the help of trade and eCommerce, Asian are eating cheese more than ever, and we are enjoying it!