What sets apart Southeast Asian recipes from those found in other continents is that even if the same ingredients are used, one can come up with different flavors and dishes. Read on as Asia Unplated shows the numerous dishes of the same variety found in different parts of Southeast Asia.
- Curry – Curry plays a prominent role in various cuisines of Southeast Asia—in fact, it can be found almost all over this subregion of Asia! It is defined as anything in “kari” or sauce, such as vegetables, seafood, and meat. You can have it spicy and go to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, or have something milder and fragrant in Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
Thailand is famous for their green, red, or yellow curry—depending on your tolerance for heat. The most famous dish would be Panang Curry, usually cooked with red curry paste, thick coconut milk, Thai basil leaves, and kaffir lime leaves.
Head on to Singapore and have some Chicken Curry, a traditional dish cooked with potatoes and chicken with a paste made with herbs and spices cooked with coconut milk. Pair this with a bowl of rice or a traditional flaky Roti Prata and you’re good to go!
Not up for something too spicy? Burmese Chicken Curry is definitely worth a trip to Myanmar. This dish is cooked with ginger and lemongrass to achieve a particularly fragrant gravy.
Amok Curry is also worth a try when you’re in Cambodia. The gentle yet fragrant flavours come from cod or monkfish, also known as ‘amok trey’, steamed in coconut milk which perfectly complements different herbs and spices that make the curry paste called ‘kroeung’.
- Noodle Soup – Noodle soup is a very common dish in Southeast Asia but is prepared differently as you travel from one country to another. It is basically defined as soup with noodles and other ingredients served in light broth. Noodle soup makes the perfect meal to warming your bellies.
Chicken Mami is one of the many Filipino favorite bowls of comfort. Key ingredients for this type of noodle soup are egg noodles and boneless chicken breasts topped with chopped onions and toasted garlic.
Pho is considered to be the national soup of Vietnam. A typical bowl of pho is served with rice noodles and chicken or beef in a bone soup stock topped with raw ingredients and garnishes such as lime slices, onions, and sliced chilies.
Who could ever forget Tom Yum, arguably one of Thailand’s most famous soup? This hot and sour blend is commonly served with rice noodles, shrimp, lemongrass, and onion, with a mix of herbs and seasonings to balance the fishy flavor from shrimp.
- Shaved Ice Desserts – Often consumed as a cool refreshment on hot summer days (or at any time on any day it is craved, for that matter), shaved ice desserts—in which blocks of ice are made into snow-like mounds—can be found in a lot of Southeast Asian countries. Though it differs from one place to another, it’s typically considered to be street food.
In the Philippines, Halo-halo is deemed to be a Filipino favorite that is served in a tall, clear glass showing off its colorful layers typically composed of shaved ice, jackfruit, nata de coco, mung beans, rice crispies, and evaporated milk, topped off with ice cream and purple yam.
Similarly, there’s Es Campur from Indonesia. Served in a shallow bowl or glass, larger chunks of ice float in a mixture of sweetened condensed milk and pandan syrup, topped with grass jelly, sprinkles, jackfruit, coconut, or avocado.
Ais Kacang, simply translated as Ice (Ais) Peanut (Kacang), is a popular shaved ice dessert served in hawker stands across Malaysia and Singapore. It is made of shaved ice colored in flavor syrups such as rose or pandan and evaporated milk, topped with red beans, sweet corn, peanuts, and durian.
Who would have known that one can travel such a short distance and eat something so similar and different at the same time? Discover interesting things such as these and more as MasterChef Australia 2017 winner Diana Chan takes you on a trip around Asia and explore its fresh and aromatic flavors on Asia Unplated with Diana Chan, which airs every Tuesday, 9PM, only on Asian Food Network.