The Asian continent stretches thousands of miles from the Middle East, through the Indian subcontinent and on to Japan. And the myriad countries found there have all made their historical culinary contributions.
There are basically three Asian dietary cultures, mostly unique, but sometimes overlapping. They are divided into the southwest, northeast and the southeast cultures.
China is part of the northeast culinary culture. It is believed that Chinese cuisine originated in the 15th century B.C. Over the centuries, two influential Chinese--Confucius and Tao--helped shape their country's food. Confucius focused on making harmonious dishes by blending ingredients, while Tao was more interested in the nutritional benefits of recipes.
Along with China and Korea, Japan is part of the northeast region. In the third century B.C., Korea passed its rice-cultivating techniques on to Japan. Korea also introduced Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century B.C., which resulted in meat being banned for consumption.
India is one of several countries included in the southwest. Its culinary roots were planted by Persian-Arabian influences. Vegetarianism was prevalent for thousands of years. Due to Hinduism, cows were used only for their milk. Muslim influence changed the diets of many by introducing various meats for kebabs and curries in what is known as Mughlai cuisine.
In 13th-century Thailand, one of several countries in this region, food was either boiled or grilled, eaten raw, or preserved and ground into dips.