Asian foodways in and out of the Nordic region

Panel in the 7th Annual International ADI Conference on Food, Feeding and Eating In and Out of Asia

Convenor: Josh Evans, Nordic Food Lab, University of Copenhagen

Nordic Food Lab (NFL) is a non-profit, open-source organisation that investigates food diversity and deliciousness. Established in 2008, we combine scientific and humanistic approaches with culinary techniques from around the world to explore the edible potential of the Nordic region. We work to broaden our taste, generating and adapting practical ideas and methods for those who make food and those who enjoy eating.

Since its founding, NFL has gained much inspiration from the cuisines of Asia – its culinary techniques and raw materials help us reconsider our own edible landscape and broaden our use of otherwise neglected and underutilised edible resources. This session will share examples of NFL’s encounters with Asian foodways to stimulate discussion on processes of culinary translation, the material and conceptual aspects of gastronomic exchange, and how concepts of ‘the traditional’, ‘the regional’, and ‘the global’ function in these processes.

These encounters will be grouped roughly into three themes.

Seaweeds have immense potential in the kitchen – for umami taste, for manipulation of texture, and for a range of flavours. Yet they have no robust  history of use in the Nordic region. We outline some of the culinary uses of seaweeds in Japan that inspired us to explore the gastronomic potential of seaweeds in Nordic waters.

Fermentation processes yield some of the most complex, particular, and valued foodstuffs in cultures around the world – and Asia is a shining example of this diverse range of fermented foods. We describe a few of these processes and how they interact with Nordic raw materials, such as ‘soy’ sauces and misos, fermented fish products, and tea processing techniques applied to other herbs.

Insects are valued as foodstuffs – and in many cases delicacies – in many cultures around the world, with some of the most particular examples in Asia. This session will focus specifically on some of our field work carried out in central Japan as part of a larger research project into insect gastronomy, where we investigated the traditional consumption of wasps (Vespula flaviceps) and giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia japonica) in their gastronomic and ecological context.


Presentations by:

  • Josh Evans, Lead Researcher, Nordic Food Lab, Dept. of Food Science, University of Copenhagen
  • Michael Bom Frøst, Director of Nordic Food Lab and Associate Professor in Sensory Science, University of Copenhagen
  • Bernat Guixer, Nordic Food Lab