There’s food. And then there’s great food. And what separates great food from others? Well, many things. Thanks to the innumerable cooking show today, everyone is aware of the basics of good food – flavour, texture, colour and most importantly balance.
When it comes to flavour, no one does it better than the Asian countries. Each Asian country has its combination of flavours – unique and amazing in its own right. The best thing is that no two countries’ flavour profiles are the same.
Asia has so much to offer to the world that it is easy to feel lost among the wide variety of available choices. To make your gastronomic adventure a little less overwhelming, we have listed 14 dishes from 14 Asian countries that we feel are must-haves. To our pleasure, several food experts confirm it too!
Thailand: Massaman Curry
It is no news that Thai food is one of the most flavoursome food of all times. This curry, which has been featured in the number one spot of CNN Travel’s ‘The World’s 50 Best Foods’ list, represents the flavour profile justly. A spicy coconut broth with both sweet and savoury tastes, this curry goes well with meat and seafood. Pair it with rice and I guarantee you won’t stop until you’ve finished the whole plate.
Malaysia: Asam Laksa
This spicy-sour fish broth with noodles is Malaysians’ go-to food. If you taste it, you will know why. Containing tamarind, chilli, lemongrass, onion, flakes of mackerel and a range of other ingredients, this will bring to life all the taste buds in your mouth. Guaranteed!
This noodle soup is the national dish of Vietnam. Light yet tasty, fresh rice noodles and herbs are served with beef or chicken broth. It is a well-balanced soup with a surprisingly high flavour profile. Delicious!
Is there any seafood lover out there who doesn’t love sushi? It is a surprise how the Japanese have taken a simple combination such as rice and fish and converted them into a global favourite. It is a healthy food item with an amazing range of flavour. Did you know that, according to statistics, having sushi on your first date increases the chance of a second date by 170%? Another reason to have sushi tonight, isn’t it?
This is as authentic as Indonesian food can be. Meat is slowly simmered in coconut milk along with garlic, ginger, turmeric, chillies and lemongrass. The slow simmer leaves the meat tender and the curry flavourful. It is ideal to enjoy this dish with steaming hot rice.
China: Peking Duck
If you haven’t tasted this yet, you are missing out. The slow roasting renders the skin crispy yet sweet and it’s oh so yummy! Although it is served with several sides, you can eat it just like that and indulge your taste buds. Always go for the lower half of the duck, because all the juice is there. That’s why it costs more than the upper half.
India: Masala Dosa
This crispy crepe made from fermented rice batter is a light breakfast item. It is served with a lentil-based soup, coconut chutney and other condiments and often paired with mashed potato. It’s an easy-to-digest food, equally popular inside and outside India.
This is the national dish of the Philippines, and rightly so. A whole roasted pig is taken and roasted over charcoal for hours, leading to crispy skin and soft tender meat. Although usually prepared for special occasions, you can taste this at any restaurant in the Philippines.
Singapore: Chilli Crab
If you are a seafood lover, you will have to try this. The tender crab meat is served with your choice of sauce, including chilli sauce, black pepper sauce or tomato-based sauce. So, take your pick and savour your meal.
This popular breakfast dish is Myanmar’s version of the good old noodle soup, but with a difference. Noodles and a variety of meat are served in a seafood-cum-lentil broth to make the right start to the day. It promises a burst of flavours in the mouth.
This is a minced meat salad that is considered by many as the national dish of Laos. Larb can be made from fish, pork, beef, chicken, duck or lamb. The salad is flavoured with lime juice, fish sauce, fermented fish juice, fresh herbs and ground rice. It is often paired with sticky rice.
Brunei: Nasi Lemak
Rice is cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves and served with sides of eggs, chicken, roasted peanuts and vegetables. Popular in Southeast Asia, this delicious breakfast dish fills you up for the entire day.
South Korea: Hangover Stew
This dish takes a cue from Korea’s popular drinking culture. A beef broth-based dish coupled with bean sprouts, radish, congealed ox blood and cabbage, this stew is intended to kick-start the brain after a drunken night – and it truly does what it intends to do.
Cambodia: Fish Amok
This is the most popular Cambodian dish, where a creamy sauce is prepared with coconut milk, turmeric, lemongrass and ginger. The sauce is paired with well-cooked fish and often served wrapped in banana leaves. It is not spicy, but extremely flavourful.
Such Asian delicacies and much more await you at the ASEAN Food Festival in Mandalay on 17th and 18th August. Want to know more? Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated. It’s going to be an action-packed weekend.