Of all the reasons anyone would want to visit South-East Asia, cuisine can easily be top of their list. Even though food is not every traveler’s priority, it sure serves a significant role in defining the culture of the region and also determines the overall travel experience. South-East Asia is one of the few places on earth that offers the greatest array of food ranging from simple to the tantalizingly complex dishes. The region is renowned for famous recipes with diets fashioned from a variety of ingredients. If you ever travel to any part of the region make sure to order one of the following.
Although difficult to pronounce, the taste of this famous noodle soup is one of a kind and all can agree that it’s a great delicacy anytime, every time. Pho broth is made from bones and meat and mixed with rice noodles, onions, ginger, cilantro and cinnamon. Depending on the choice of meat, the mixture produces a complex flavor that is bound to work your appetite.
Anok and Prahok
In Cambodia, Khmer cuisine is the ultimate serving with unique flavors from the locally fish-fermented paste (prahok), which is added to other dishes as a supplement or as taken a side dish. Chicken or fish can also be cooked wrapped in banana leaves and made into curry with coconut milk as the base to create the famous amok. This is further seasoned with local and Indian spices to distinguish the taste of this world renowned dish.
Malaysian Indian Food
As history goes, Tamil Muslims from South India were great cooks and therefore had a number of unique cooking techniques and spices. Their settlement in Malaysia brought about the emergence of Mamak stalls/eateries which to date, serve some exquisite meals such as nasi kandar (rice with meat/vegetable). This and other meals is served on banana leaves and eaten with bare hands to eliminate the environmental footprint.
This is no regular plate of rice noodles since it is served with egg, lime, bean sprouts as well as optional ground peanuts. The crunchy meal costs less than a dollar but its taste is worth more than a few. It can be supplemented by tamarind paste or fish sauce blend to exemplify the flavor.
Indonesia’s national dish, nasi goreng, is a pleasant blend of pre-cooked rice with spices such as chili, coriander and garlic. On top of the Indian influence, fried eggs and crispy shrimp crackers can be added to augment taste in the meal.
Laksa is a valued noodle soup in both Singapore and Malaysia and has been adopted in two flavors curry and asam. The former is made from coconut milk while the latter uses sour tamarind paste and is the default Malaysian cuisine. The soups are both richly populated with variable ingredients and are therefore thick with a slightly gritty texture.
The salad which is also known as som tam, is a delicately prepared dish with exquisite flavors and texture. It is crunchy, sweet, salty, sour and spicy at the same time, making it a truly exceptional and healthy salad.
This is classic Philippine cuisine defined by a fusion of multiple Asian styles of cookery with some European and Spanish influences. Ideally, it is fish or other meat products cooked delicately in vinegar and spices and then browned in oil to create a crispy finish.
Char Kway Teow
This is a Chinese street food consisting of fried rice noodles topped with soy sauce and uniquely compounded with fish, meat, eggs, cake and in some cases, sausage.
Laap is a simple dish made of chopped or minced meat blended with fish sauce and toasted rice. It is so popular in the region that it’s regarded as the national dish of Laos.
These are just a few of the numerous amazing dishes South-East Asians are known for but are representative of the region’s cook-book which emphasizes on spices and flavor. If you therefore happen to be in the region, make sure to spoil yourself as you appreciate the rich culture.Photo credit: Michael T. (www.flickr.com/photos/nicknamemiket/)