What are the Most Popular Asian Cuisines and How do They Differ?

Asian cuisine is renowned for its rich and diverse flavors, spices, and cooking techniques. With a vast array of cultures and culinary traditions, it can be challenging to narrow down the most popular Asian cuisines. However, three main cuisines that stand out are Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cuisines. Each cuisine offers a unique dining experience with distinct flavors, cooking methods, and presentation styles. From the bold and spicy flavors of Indian cuisine to the delicate and refined tastes of Japanese cuisine, this article will explore the differences and similarities of these three popular Asian cuisines.

Quick Answer:
The most popular Asian cuisines are Chinese, Japanese, and Indian. Chinese cuisine is known for its diverse flavors and

The Three Main Cuisines in Asia

Cuisine 1: Chinese Cuisine

Overview of Chinese Cuisine

Chinese cuisine is renowned for its diversity and complexity, reflecting the vastness of China’s geography and culture. Chinese cooking encompasses a wide range of flavors, techniques, and ingredients, from the delicate flavors of Cantonese cuisine to the bold and spicy flavors of Sichuan cuisine. Chinese cuisine is characterized by its emphasis on balance, harmony, and contrast, with each dish aiming to achieve a perfect equilibrium of flavors, textures, and colors.

Influence of Regional Cooking Styles

Chinese cuisine is heavily influenced by regional cooking styles, with each province and region having its own unique culinary traditions. For example, Cantonese cuisine, which originates from the southern region of Guangdong, is known for its delicate and refined flavors, while Sichuan cuisine, which comes from the southwestern province of Sichuan, is famous for its bold and spicy flavors. Other regional styles include Hunan cuisine, which is known for its savory and hearty flavors, and Shanghainese cuisine, which is characterized by its delicate and refined flavors.

Famous Dishes and Ingredients

Some of the most famous dishes in Chinese cuisine include Peking duck, Kung Pao chicken, and lo mein. Peking duck is a dish that originated in Beijing and is made by roasting a whole duck with a special blend of spices and herbs. Kung Pao chicken is a Sichuan dish that is made with diced chicken, peanuts, and vegetables, and is known for its bold and spicy flavors. Lo mein is a dish that originated in northern China and is made with stir-fried noodles and a variety of meats and vegetables. Other famous Chinese ingredients include soy sauce, rice wine, and five-spice powder, which are used in a wide range of dishes and are integral to the flavor profile of Chinese cuisine.

Cuisine 2: Japanese Cuisine

Overview of Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine is renowned for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, as well as its distinct cooking techniques and presentation styles. Rice, seafood, and vegetables are staples of Japanese cuisine, with an array of flavors and textures that reflect the country’s geography and climate. From sushi and sashimi to ramen and tempura, Japanese cuisine offers a wide range of dishes that cater to various tastes and dietary preferences.

Japan’s diverse geography, with its islands, mountains, and coastal regions, has given rise to various regional cooking styles. For example, Kansai-style cuisine, originating from the Kansai region, is known for its emphasis on savory flavors and use of miso and soy sauce. On the other hand, Kanto-style cuisine, from the Kanto region, tends to be lighter and relies more on dashi (a stock made from fish or seaweed) and soy sauce. These regional differences can be seen in the preparation of dishes like nabemono (Japanese hot pots) and set meals, where each region has its own unique take on the ingredients and cooking methods.

Some of the most famous dishes in Japanese cuisine include sushi, sashimi, tempura, ramen, and udon. Sushi, a dish consisting of vinegared rice and various ingredients, can be found in various forms, such as maki sushi (rolls), nigiri sushi (balls), and temaki sushi (cones). Sashimi, a dish of thinly sliced raw fish, is often served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled vegetables. Tempura, a dish of seafood or vegetables battered and deep-fried, is a popular snack or main course. Ramen, a Chinese-influenced noodle soup, has become a staple of Japanese cuisine and can be found in many variations throughout the country. Udon, a thick noodle soup, is another popular dish that can be enjoyed year-round.

In addition to these famous dishes, Japanese cuisine is also known for its use of seasonal ingredients, such as cherry blossom leaves, shiitake mushrooms, and yam. These ingredients are incorporated into various dishes, including side dishes, soups, and hot pots, reflecting the changing seasons and the bounty of nature in Japan.

Cuisine 3: Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine is a diverse and rich culinary tradition that offers a wide variety of flavors and cooking styles. The diverse geography of India, with its different climates and cultures, has contributed to the development of many distinct regional cooking styles.

  • Overview of Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine is known for its use of aromatic spices, herbs, and seasonings. Common ingredients include cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. Many dishes are also infused with the flavors of cilantro, mint, and basil. Rice, wheat, and a variety of lentils and beans are also staples of Indian cuisine.

  • Influence of Regional Cooking Styles

Indian cuisine varies significantly by region, with each region having its own unique cooking style and specialties. For example, Northern Indian cuisine is known for its creamy sauces and rich, buttery flavors, while Southern Indian cuisine tends to be lighter and more flavorful. Western Indian cuisine often features the use of seafood and coconut, while Eastern Indian cuisine is known for its use of mustard seeds and poppy seeds.

  • Famous Dishes and Ingredients

Some of the most famous dishes in Indian cuisine include tandoori chicken, biryani, and saag paneer. Tandoori chicken is a dish that is roasted in a clay oven, known as a tandoor, and is often marinated in a yogurt and spice mixture before cooking. Biryani is a dish made with layers of rice and meat or vegetables, and is often flavored with saffron and cardamom. Saag paneer is a creamy spinach dish that is made with paneer cheese, a fresh cheese that is commonly used in Indian cuisine.

Other popular ingredients in Indian cuisine include ghee (clarified butter), yogurt, and various types of pickles and chutneys. Indian cuisine also makes heavy use of a variety of breads, including naan, roti, and paratha.

Regional Differences in Asian Cuisine

Key takeaway: Asian cuisine is diverse and complex, with each region having its own unique cooking styles and specialties. Chinese cuisine is known for its balance, harmony, and contrast, with a wide range of flavors, techniques, and ingredients. Japanese cuisine is renowned for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and distinct cooking techniques. Indian cuisine is diverse and rich, with a wide variety of flavors and cooking styles, reflecting the diverse geography and cultures of India. Regional differences in Asian cuisine include Cantonese, Szechuan, Hunan, and many others.

China

China is a vast country with a rich and diverse culinary tradition, with a multitude of regional cuisines that vary significantly in terms of flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Here are some of the most popular cuisines in China:

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Cantonese cuisine

Cantonese cuisine is a traditional style of cooking from the Guangdong province in southern China. It is known for its emphasis on freshness, lightness, and delicacy. Cantonese dishes often feature seafood, poultry, and vegetables cooked with minimal seasoning, and served with steamed rice. The dishes are usually lightly sauced or not sauced at all, allowing the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine.

Szechuan cuisine

Szechuan cuisine, also known as Sichuan cuisine, is a style of cooking that originated in the Sichuan province in western China. It is famous for its bold and spicy flavors, often characterized by the use of chili peppers, garlic, and Sichuan peppercorns. Szechuan dishes are known for their generous use of oil, which helps to amplify the flavors of the ingredients. Popular Szechuan dishes include Kung Pao chicken, mapo tofu, and dan dan noodles.

Hunan cuisine

Hunan cuisine is a style of cooking that originated in the Hunan province in central China. It is known for its bold and savory flavors, often characterized by the use of fermented soybeans, chili peppers, and garlic. Hunan dishes tend to be hearty and filling, with generous use of meat and vegetables. Popular Hunan dishes include stinky tofu, dry-fried green beans, and fish-flavored rice.

Japan

Japanese cuisine is renowned for its diversity and complexity, with each region boasting its own unique culinary traditions. Here are some of the most prominent regional cuisines in Japan:

Hokkaido Cuisine

Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is known for its abundant seafood and dairy products. Some of the most popular dishes in Hokkaido include:

  • Sashimi: Fresh, raw fish sliced into thin pieces and served with soy sauce, wasabi, and rice.
  • Miso Ramen: A hearty noodle soup made with a rich miso-based broth, topped with sliced pork, vegetables, and a raw egg.
  • Ishikari Nabe: A one-pot dish made with salmon, vegetables, and tofu in a miso-based broth, slow-cooked for hours.

Tohoku Cuisine

Tohoku, the northeastern region of Japan, is famous for its cold winters and hearty, comforting foods. Some of the most popular dishes in Tohoku include:

  • Jajamen: A hearty noodle dish made with thick wheat noodles, chicken or pork, and vegetables in a soy-based broth.
  • Oyaki: Stuffed vegetables, typically made with greens like shiso or napa cabbage, filled with ground meat and seasonings.
  • Soba: Thin, buckwheat noodles served with a variety of sauces and toppings, such as grated ginger, soy sauce, and tempura bits.

Kansai Cuisine

Kansai, the region surrounding Osaka and Kyoto, is known for its bold flavors and unique culinary traditions. Some of the most popular dishes in Kansai include:

  • Takoyaki: Ball-shaped snacks made with a wheat flour-based batter and filled with diced octopus, tempura scraps, and green onion.
  • Obori Don: A rice bowl topped with grilled beef, onion, and a raw egg, seasoned with a sweet-savory sauce.
  • Okonomiyaki: A savory pancake made with a wheat flour-based batter, filled with a variety of ingredients like shrimp, squid, vegetables, and tofu, and topped with a savory-sweet sauce and bonito flakes.

Kyushu Cuisine

Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan, is known for its spicy and bold flavors. Some of the most popular dishes in Kyushu include:

  • Motsu Nikomi: A hearty beef stew made with beef and pork offal, vegetables, and tofu in a miso-based broth.
  • Tonkatsu: A breaded and fried pork cutlet, served with a thick, sweet-savory sauce and shredded cabbage.
  • Fukuyu: A thick, hearty soup made with chicken, vegetables, and tofu, seasoned with a bold, savory-sweet sauce.

India

North Indian Cuisine

North Indian cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of dairy products, such as butter and cream, as well as a wide variety of spices. It is known for dishes like tandoori chicken, a type of roasted chicken cooked in a clay oven, and biryani, a dish made with rice, meat, and a variety of spices.

South Indian Cuisine

South Indian cuisine is known for its use of coconut and coconut oil, as well as a wide variety of spices. Dishes from this region include idli, a type of steamed rice cake, and dosa, a type of crepe made from fermented rice and lentils.

East Indian Cuisine

East Indian cuisine is characterized by its use of mustard seeds, panch phoron, and poppy seeds, as well as a variety of fish and seafood dishes. Some popular dishes from this region include maach bhaat, a type of fish curry served with rice, and shorshe bhaat, a type of mustard greens curry.

West Indian Cuisine

West Indian cuisine is known for its use of a variety of spices, as well as a wide variety of seafood dishes. Dishes from this region include vada pav, a type of Indian burger made with a deep-fried potato patty, and pav bhaji, a type of vegetable curry served with bread.

Ingredients and Techniques Used in Asian Cuisine

Common ingredients

Asian cuisine is known for its bold and diverse flavors, which are often derived from a handful of common ingredients. These ingredients include:

  • Rice: Rice is a staple in many Asian cuisines, and it is often used as a base for many dishes. In some countries, rice is eaten for every meal, and it is often accompanied by a variety of flavorful sauces and side dishes.
  • Noodles: Noodles are another common ingredient in Asian cuisine, and they are often used in soups, stir-fries, and other dishes. There are many different types of noodles, including rice noodles, wheat noodles, and mung bean noodles, and they can be made in a variety of ways.
  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce is a popular condiment in Asian cuisine, and it is used to add depth and flavor to many dishes. It is made from fermented soybeans, and it is often mixed with other ingredients to create different flavors.
  • Sesame oil: Sesame oil is a flavorful oil that is commonly used in Asian cuisine. It has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor, and it is often used to add depth to stir-fries, sauces, and other dishes.
  • Ginger: Ginger is a common ingredient in many Asian cuisines, and it is often used to add flavor and warmth to dishes. It can be used fresh or dried, and it is often grated or minced into small pieces before being used in a recipe.

Cooking techniques

Stir-frying

Stir-frying is a popular cooking technique in Asian cuisine, particularly in China, where it is known as “chǎo guān” or “chǎo fàn”. This method involves quickly cooking ingredients over high heat in a small amount of oil, using a wok or large skillet. The ingredients are stirred continuously to ensure even cooking and to maintain the vibrant colors and textures of the food. Stir-frying is often used to prepare vegetables, meats, and seafood, and is commonly paired with rice or noodles.

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Steaming

Steaming is a common cooking technique in Asian cuisine, particularly in China and Japan. This method involves cooking food by applying heat from steam, which is produced when water is boiled in a separate vessel and the steam is directed into a container with the food. Steaming is often used to prepare dumplings, buns, and other baked goods, as well as vegetables and meats. The advantage of steaming is that it preserves the texture and flavor of the food, while also being a healthy cooking method as it requires minimal oil.

Grilling

Grilling is a popular cooking technique in Korean cuisine, where it is known as “gribaek-tang”. This method involves cooking food over an open flame or grill, which sears the ingredients and imparts a smoky flavor. Grilling is often used to prepare meats, seafood, and vegetables, and is commonly paired with rice or noodles. Korean barbecue, which features marinated meats grilled at the table, is a popular example of this cooking technique.

Deep-frying

Deep-frying is a common cooking technique in Asian cuisine, particularly in India, where it is known as “bhaji”. This method involves cooking food by submerging it in hot oil, which sears the ingredients and imparts a crispy texture. Deep-frying is often used to prepare vegetables, meats, and seafood, and is commonly paired with rice or bread. Samosas, pakoras, and other fried snacks are popular examples of this cooking technique in Indian cuisine.

Pickling

Pickling is a popular cooking technique in Asian cuisine, particularly in Korea, Japan, and India. This method involves preserving food by marinating it in a solution of vinegar, salt, and spices, which pickles the ingredients and preserves them for a longer period of time. Pickling is often used to prepare vegetables, meats, and seafood, and is commonly served as a side dish or snack. Kimchi, a spicy Korean fermented vegetable dish, and tsukemono, a Japanese pickled vegetable dish, are popular examples of this cooking technique.

Famous Asian Dishes and Their Significance

Sushi

Origin and history

Sushi is a popular Japanese dish that has its roots in the traditional fishing practices of ancient Japan. The word “sushi” is derived from the Japanese word “sushi-zushi,” which means “sour-tasting vinegar on rice.” This name is derived from the fact that sushi was originally made by fermenting fish and rice together with vinegar, creating a dish that was both sour and sweet.

Types of sushi

There are several types of sushi, each with its own unique flavor and preparation method. Some of the most popular types of sushi include:

  • Nigiri sushi: A type of sushi that consists of a small ball of rice topped with a slice of raw fish.
  • Maki sushi: A type of sushi that is rolled in a cylindrical shape using a thin slice of raw fish, rice, and seaweed.
  • Temaki sushi: A type of sushi that is rolled into a cone shape using a thin slice of raw fish, rice, and seaweed.
  • Sashimi sushi: A type of sushi that consists of thinly sliced raw fish served without rice.

Significance in Japanese cuisine

Sushi is considered a staple of Japanese cuisine and is often served as a snack or appetizer. It is also a popular dish among Japanese people of all ages and is often eaten as a meal by itself or as part of a larger meal. In addition to its delicious flavor, sushi is also valued for its cultural significance and its role in Japanese cuisine and traditions.

Curry

  • Origin and history

Curry, a staple in many Asian cuisines, has its roots in South Asia, specifically in India. It is believed to have originated around 2500 years ago, when the ancient Indian spice trade routes connected Asia to the Middle East and Europe. Over time, the spice mix spread across the continent, adapting to local tastes and flavors, resulting in the wide variety of curries we know today.

  • Types of curry

Curry, in its simplest form, is a mixture of spices and herbs, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, and ginger, blended together to create a distinct flavor. There are many types of curry, each with its own unique combination of spices and often prepared differently. The two main categories of curry are “dry” and “wet” curries. Dry curries are typically made with flour or roux and are thicker, while wet curries are made with broth or sauce and are thinner.

  • Significance in Indian cuisine

In India, curry is an essential part of daily meals, and its popularity has spread throughout the world. Each region of India has its own unique style of curry, with varying levels of heat and spiciness. Some popular Indian curries include chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, and palak paneer. Curry is also a common ingredient in many traditional Indian dishes, such as biryani and korma.

Overall, curry is a versatile and flavorful dish that has become a staple in many Asian cuisines. Its origins can be traced back to ancient India, and its popularity has spread throughout the world, with each region adapting the dish to its own unique tastes and flavors.

Dumplings

Dumplings are a popular Asian dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. These small, bite-sized treats are typically made from a dough-based wrapper that is filled with a variety of ingredients, including meat, vegetables, and spices.

Origin and History

Dumplings have a long and rich history in Asian cuisine. They are believed to have originated in China over 1,500 years ago, where they were initially used as a way to preserve food during times of scarcity. Over time, the dish evolved and became a staple of Chinese cuisine, with different regions developing their own unique styles and flavors.

Types of Dumplings

There are many different types of dumplings, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Some of the most popular types of dumplings include:

  • Chinese dumplings: These are the most well-known type of dumplings, and are typically filled with a mixture of pork and vegetables. They are often served boiled or steamed, and are usually accompanied by a dipping sauce.
  • Japanese gyoza: These dumplings are similar to Chinese dumplings, but are typically filled with a mixture of ground pork and cabbage. They are usually pan-fried until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
  • Korean mandu: These dumplings are filled with a variety of ingredients, including meat, vegetables, and spices. They are often served boiled or steamed, and are typically accompanied by a dipping sauce.

Significance in Chinese Cuisine

Dumplings are an important part of Chinese cuisine, and are enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. They are often served as a snack or appetizer, and are also popular as a main dish. Dumplings are typically made at home, but can also be found in many restaurants and street vendors throughout China.

In Chinese culture, dumplings are often associated with good luck and fortune. It is believed that the shape of the dumpling, which resembles a gold nugget, brings wealth and prosperity to those who eat them. Additionally, the act of making dumplings is often seen as a family activity, bringing people together and fostering a sense of community.

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Popular Beverages in Asian Cuisine

Tea

Tea is one of the most popular beverages in Asian cuisine, with a rich history and cultural significance in many countries. There are several types of tea, including green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea, and pu-erh tea. Each type of tea has its own unique flavor and preparation method.

Types of tea

Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and is known for its vibrant color and fresh, grassy flavor. Black tea is made from fermented leaves and has a strong, bold flavor. Oolong tea is partially fermented, giving it a unique taste that falls between green and black tea. White tea is made from young leaves and buds and has a delicate, floral flavor. Pu-erh tea is a type of fermented tea that has been aged for several years, resulting in a earthy, nutty flavor.

Popular brands

Some popular brands of tea include Twinings, Lipton, and Harney & Sons. These brands offer a wide variety of teas, including flavored and herbal blends, as well as traditional teas like Earl Grey and English breakfast tea.

Significance in Chinese and Japanese cuisine

Tea has a significant cultural and historical significance in both Chinese and Japanese cuisine. In China, tea has been consumed for thousands of years and is often served during meals or at social gatherings. In Japan, tea ceremonies are a traditional way to show respect and hospitality, with tea being served in a specific way to highlight its subtle flavors and aromas.

In both countries, tea is often served hot and is seen as a refreshing and energizing beverage. It is often consumed during meals or as a standalone drink, and is often accompanied by snacks or desserts.

In summary, tea is a popular beverage in Asian cuisine, with a rich history and cultural significance in many countries. There are several types of tea, each with its own unique flavor and preparation method. Popular brands of tea include Twinings, Lipton, and Harney & Sons. In China and Japan, tea has a significant cultural and historical significance and is often served during meals or at social gatherings.

Sake

Types of sake

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It is available in various types, each with distinct characteristics and uses. The most common types of sake are:

  1. Junmai: This is the purest form of sake, made from rice, water, and yeast. It has a clean, subtle taste and is often used as a base for other sake styles.
  2. Ginjo: Ginjo sake is made from highly polished rice, which is milled to remove some of the outer layers, resulting in a lighter, more delicate taste.
  3. Daiginjo: This premium sake is made from extremely polished rice, which is milled to remove up to 50% of the outer layers. Daiginjo sake has a light, delicate taste and aroma, and is often considered the highest quality sake.
  4. Nigori: Nigori sake is unfiltered, leaving a milky appearance and a creamy texture. It has a sweeter taste and a lower alcohol content than other sake types.
  5. Sparkling: As the name suggests, this type of sake has a carbonation, similar to champagne. It is made through a second fermentation process in the bottle.

Popular brands

Some of the most popular sake brands include:

  • Dassai: A premium daiginjo sake known for its delicate taste and aroma.
  • Sho Chiku Bai: A popular brand known for its variety of sake styles, including junmai, ginjo, and nigori.
  • Kirin: A well-known Japanese beer brand that also produces a range of sake, including daiginjo and junmai.

Sake plays an important role in Japanese cuisine and culture. It is often served at special occasions, such as weddings, banquets, and religious ceremonies. Sake is also used as an ingredient in various dishes, such as sake-tamasushi (sake-infused sushi rolls) and sake-no-hana (salmon cooked in sake).

In addition, sake has become increasingly popular in other parts of the world, with many countries producing their own sake-style beverages. As a result, sake has become a global symbol of Japanese culture and cuisine.

Lassi

Lassi is a popular traditional yogurt-based drink in South Asian cuisine, especially in India and Pakistan. It is made by blending yogurt with water, spices, and sometimes fruit or sweeteners. There are two main types of lassi: sweet lassi and salty lassi.

Types of lassi

  1. Sweet lassi: This is the most common type of lassi, made with yogurt, sugar, and water. It is usually sweetened to taste and can be flavored with cardamom, saffron, or rose water.
  2. Salty lassi: This type of lassi is made with yogurt, salt, and water. It is less sweet than sweet lassi and is often consumed as a refreshing drink.

Some popular brands of lassi include Amul Lassi, Mother Dairy Lassi, and Prabhat Lassi. These brands are widely available in grocery stores and supermarkets in India and other countries with large South Asian populations.

Significance in Indian cuisine

Lassi is a popular drink in Indian cuisine and is often served as a refreshing beverage after meals. It is also used as a base for smoothies and other frozen desserts. In some parts of India, lassi is also used as a remedy for digestive problems.

FAQs

1. What are the three main cuisines in Asian cooking?

The three main cuisines in Asian cooking are Chinese, Japanese, and Indian. Chinese cuisine is known for its diverse flavors and wide range of cooking techniques, including stir-frying, steaming, and deep-frying. Japanese cuisine is famous for its fresh seafood, rice, and noodle dishes, and is often associated with sushi and sashimi. Indian cuisine is characterized by its bold and complex spices, and includes a wide variety of dishes such as curries, biryanis, and tandoori.

2. How does Chinese cuisine differ from Japanese cuisine?

Chinese cuisine is known for its bold and complex flavors, often featuring garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. It also uses a wide variety of cooking techniques, including stir-frying, steaming, and deep-frying. Japanese cuisine, on the other hand, is known for its simplicity and delicacy, with an emphasis on fresh seafood, rice, and noodle dishes. Sushi and sashimi are two of the most well-known Japanese dishes, but there are many others, such as tempura, ramen, and udon.

3. What are some of the most popular Indian dishes?

Some of the most popular Indian dishes include curries, biryanis, and tandoori. Curries are a staple of Indian cuisine and can be made with a variety of meats, vegetables, and spices. Biryani is a type of rice dish that is flavored with spices and often includes meat or vegetables. Tandoori is a cooking method that involves roasting meat or vegetables in a clay oven, and is known for its smoky flavor. Other popular Indian dishes include naan bread, samosas, and pakoras.

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