Popular South-East Asian Cuisine

What will your next favorite Asian meal be? Could it be in a high-end restaurant in Bangkok or a street cart in the Philippines? If you’re traveling in South-East Asia, there’s no way to tell—the cuisine is bold, appealing, and always tasty.

In this post, we’ll go through some exciting dishes to start your flavor adventure. Give the online gaming at Gclub a break and try some of these meals instead.

food, noodles, cutting board
Free-Photos (CC0), Pixabay

Tocino

If you think that Tocino sounds like it’s from Spain, you’re right. In Spain, Tocino is a type of cured bacon. In the Philippines, it refers to a dish prepared with sweet-cured meat.

The meat usually is pork, but beef and chicken make the cut as well.

It’s a simple dish. The meat is sliced and marinated, usually in rice wine vinegar, anise wine, soy sauce, and possibly fruit juice. The chef adds salt and sugar as needed.

It’s common to add saltpetre and annatto to preserve the meat. The annatto adds a peppery taste to the food.

The meat is left to cure and then fried lightly to caramelize the sugar. It’s served with eggs or fried rice.

Nasi Dagang

Nasi Dagang will make you rethink how you prepare rice in the future. With this Malaysian recipe, you steam the rice in coconut milk.

The type of rice depends on where you are in Malaysia. It’s usually a combination of sticky white and jasmine rice. In some areas, red rice is used instead.

It complements a range of dishes. As a breakfast food, you’ll usually have it with hard-boiled eggs, fish crackers, coconut, or sambal. For a more substantial meal, serve it with fish curry.

Yen Ta Fo

The Thai soup takes on a pretty pink color from the fermented red bean curd. The base is either pork or chicken broth with the curd taking center stage. Several types of noodles provide extra texture, and the soup is typically topped with shrimp, fish balls, squid, or tofu to make a more substantial meal.

Atchara

This Filipino pickle is made from green papaya. It’s a condiment rather than the main course and has a spicy, sweet, and sour flavor combination. You might also find a range of other vegetables in the mix, such as onions, radishes, and carrots. Chilies are common, but not essential.

The papaya provides the sour texture and a satisfying crunch. The sugar in the pickling mixture provides sweetness, but some chefs add raisins or pineapple for more flavor.

The condiment goes well with red meat or chicken.

Babi Panggang

In Indonesia, Babi Panggang refers to pork dishes that are roasted or grilled. What makes the dish unique is that the pork is marinated before it’s cooked. The featured spices include galangal, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.

It is a combination of spicy and salty, but not usually heavy on the chilies.

Soto Betawi

Another Indonesian dish, Soto Betawi is a filling soup. Coconut milk forms the base, with offal and beef added to simmer with a blend of spices. Typical spices here include turmeric, lemongrass, cooking lime leaves, coriander, and galangal.

The soup is creamy, with a slight citrus undertone. It’s usually topped with crackers, sweet soy sauce, scallions, or tomatoes alongside rice to make it more filling.

Bulalô

The delicious Filipino soup is an incredibly nourishing form of bone broth. Marrow bones and beef shanks are simmered for ages to draw out all the nutrients. The meat seems to melt in the mouth and imparts rich umami.

Most chefs add corn, onions, string beans, or cabbage as this cut of beef is slightly more expensive in the Philippines.

Phanaeng Curry

The Thai curry is meat or poultry-based and typically made with beef, duck, or chicken without vegetables. The meat is cooked in coconut milk and laced with lemongrass, chili flakes, cumin, cooking lime leaves, garlic, and cilantro. Peanuts add extra texture and protein.

The result is a curry that is exceptionally creamy and offers citrus undertones. It may be mild or scorching, depending on the person preparing it.

Suki

Suki is another Thai dish that follows the Japanese tradition of stew cooked next to the table. It is eaten from a shared bowl.

The ingredients vary according to what’s in season but may include chicken, pork, beef, or seafood. Vegetables such as mushrooms, shallots, cabbage, celery, and carrots round out the dish.

What makes this dish distinctly Thai is the combination of lime, garlic, coriander, and chili in the dipping sauce. The level of heat varies, and you usually have the option to ask for a milder version.

Canh Chua

A Vietnamese soup, Canh Chua combines several flavor profiles. It’s sweet, sour, and savory.

It’s most commonly made with seafood, such as catfish, shrimp, or eel, but may vary with beef or pork in some regions.

Pineapple provides sweetness, and the tamarind and bean sprouts give a sour taste. Okra, mustard greens, bamboo shoots, or tomatoes provide the savory aspect.

The meal is nourishing and quick to prepare, make it a firm fan favorite for home cooking enthusiasts, too.

Samosa

Samosas are a classic Indian pastry with a variety of fillings, including corn, potato, meat, and curry. It is deep-fried, and ingredients depend on the area of India you are visiting.

Ground beef or chicken is an everyday meaty favorite. Lentils, onions, and potatoes are excellent vegetarian alternatives. You might also come across interesting versions with mango, raisins, and pomegranates for a sweet treat.

Samosas are a snack food rather than the main meal. However, it’s quite easy to fill up on these delicious flavor pockets.

Be warned; it is similar to biscuits in that it’s hard to stop at one.

Samosas are served hot and may come with chutney for dipping. The flavors range from hot and spicy to relatively plain.

Final Notes

South-East Asian cuisine is rich and varied. It centers on fresh ingredients with a combination of spices and flavors. It’s common to find a blend of sweet, sour, and savory in the mix.

We’ve given you a wide range of choices aside from the standard South-East Asian curries. Now, it’s up to you to try out a few and choose your favorites.