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Best Southeast Asian Recipes

Best Southeast Asian Recipes

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Southeast Asian Shopping Tips

To find the ingredients you need to cook Southeast Asian cuisine, try to find specialty grocery stores in the Asian neighborhoods in your town.

Southeast Asian Cooking Tips

Southeast Asian Cuisine is about the balance of flavors between sweet and sour; hot and mild. When working with Asian chilis, the smaller ones are usually spicier. Handle with caution and care.

Beyond the Obvious: Top Ten Meals in Southeast Asia

You never know where your next great meal could come from. It could be tucked down a quiet alley in Bangkok. It could be smack in the middle of noisy Old Town Hanoi, from a cart on the street. Sometimes it’s at high-end establishments, replete with white tablecloths and clinking champagne flutes.

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In Southeast Asia, however, the best meals are usually at the most humble of eateries: a street cart, a fluorescent-lit dining room with plastic chairs, or a roadside shack with a hand painted sign. This part of the world doesn’t care about ambience — it’s all about flavor. And Southeast Asian cuisine brings the flavor in spades. It’s difficult to narrow down such a breadth of culinary choices into one small list, so here I focus on the lesser-known specialties from each country. Here are the top ten meals in Southeast Asia:

Based in south east asia here. Any recipes that is south east asian supermarket friendly?

Lots of recipes called for seasonings and things like canned chicken soup or canned tomato paste which is not available here. So just wondering if there’s any fellow south east asian based slow cooker owner who doesn’t mind sharing your recipes? :)

I’m not based there, but a bunch of Vietnamese recipes for soups works well for slow cooking: pho, bun, sup mang cua, etc.. Indian types of curries needing longer cooking/simmering time works well too. Other than that, bbq ribs or any other meat cooked for longer time works great!

Thank you so much! I’ll look them up

I'm pretty sure chickens exist in most parts of South East Asia. You can make your own chicken soup out of one in a slow cooker too. You can freeze it for future recipes.

depends on which SE Asian cuisine you are looking for, but i cook, such as pork trotters, goat curry, beef brisket, beef tendon and etc stews all the time in my slow cooker. Basically, i just clean off the residue over a pot of boiling water, wash and put in SC with your choice if spices. Comes out perfect everytime.

The Diverse Cuisine of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a diverse and fascinating cultural crossroads that forms both a geographic a culinary link between Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Traditional Southeast Asian recipes incorporate the organizing principals of Chinese cuisine and the complex flavors derived from Indian herbs and spices. Food can be sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter all in the same bite. Through modern influences, the area has also embraced certain aspects of Colonial French cuisine, and to a lesser extent, Spanish and American cooking.

Although the foods of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia share core similarities, there are also significant regional differences. While Thai food, for example, is often characterized as sweet and spicy, Vietnamese food is considered light and refreshing and Filipino cuisine is heavy in comparison.

A Typical Southeast Asian Meal
Most Southeast Asian meals are served "family style," rather than as a series of courses. All dishes are set on the table and guests are encouraged to take a little bit of everything. Rice—commonly long-grain white rice in individual bowls—is used here as it is in China: a neutral "canvas" on which other flavors and textures are enjoyed. Vegetables and a protein or two are often accompanied by a communal broth for sipping and cleansing the palate throughout the meal. A cup of hot tea is often sipped at the end of the meal to aid digestion.

The ideal Southeast Asian meal is made up of mostly vegetables, rice and broth, with a little protein to add flavor and a satiating quality. A meal for one might be rice, a grilled fish and some pickled vegetables, while a meal for two might add another vegetable dish. For four, the cook might add an extra protein such as shrimp, squid or pork. Beef, chicken and duck are costly, and tend to be reserved for special occasions.

Desserts or sweets at the end of the meal are rare in Southeast Asia, and are also reserved for special occasions such as a wedding or New Year's celebration. Because the full flavor range is covered, meals are satisfyingly sweet enough. As a result, dessert-type foods, which tend to be sweet with a salty hint on the finish, are more often had as an afternoon snack with coffee or tea. The few classic desserts that exist tend to be soups or puddings and are tapioca-, coconut-, mung bean-, or red bean-based. The French have also left their mark, and today a wide array of ice cream flavors are enjoyed by kids and grown-ups alike.

Southeast Asian Street Foods, Snacks and Quick Meals
Southeast Asian snack food is often more like a small, light and balanced meal than a sweet treat. Many are traditionally had from small street carts, a form of open air dining establishment that pervades most of Asia. Influenced by the French, sandwiches (banh mi) are often had as a quick lunch. Noodle soups are also considered snacks, or quick breakfast or lunch fare. Street vendors offer a wide variety of satay—skewered and grilled morsels—including pork, chicken, duck, shrimp, squid and more.

A Note on Pork

Pork is by far the most widely eaten meat in Southeast Asia, and if you own a pig, you're considered wealthy. Pigs are fed kitchen scraps, keeping the cost of maintaining the animal relatively low. Additionally, once slaughtered, the large animal can feed many mouths for many meals. Pig fat is rendered and used as inexpensive cooking oil to stir-fry vegetables, meat and seafood. Additionally, every part of the animal is used, from head to tail, the skin, offal, blood, meat and bones are used in cooking. Spring rolls, for example, are often fried in pork fat.

4. Leng Chee Kang

Leng chee kang is a Malaysian-Chinese dessert that was made for the summer. This mix of ingredients is said to help cool down the body. The cool broth is made by boiling lo han kuo, dried longans, lotus seeds, and is sweetened by rock sugar. The toppings may include barley, basil seeds, dried persimmon slices, gingko and malva nuts, agar-agar strips, longans, and tapioca pearls.

Where: Leng chee kang can be found in most food courts around Malaysia, but in Kuala Lumpur Soon Kee Lin Chee Kang Sejuk Dan Panas is a hawker cart that specializes in the dessert—in fact, that's all it serves.

Pad See Yew

This Thai street food dish is commonly eaten in Thailand and Laos. It has Chinese influences with its stir-fry technique. The dish is fairly simple to make and involves minimal prep time.

Total Time: 30 MIN

Servings: 4


  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste or fermented yellow beans
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 pound bok choy, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2/3 pound dried rice stick noodles
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp
  • Salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 Thai bird chiles or serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted salted peanuts (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving

In a bowl, mix the fish sauce, miso, oyster sauce, sugar and soy.

In a large pot of boiling lightly salted water, cook the bok choy for 2 minutes until crisp-tender, then transfer to a plate. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes until noodles are firm but pliable. Drain and rinse under cold water shake out any excess water. Transfer the noodles to a bowl toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook over high heat for 2 minutes until pink throughout. Add the shrimp to the bok choy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the eggs and cook over high heat for about 30 seconds until lightly scrambled. Add the noodles and toss lightly. Add the fish sauce mixture and toss. Cook, without stirring, about 5 minutes until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Stir the noodles once, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer until browned on the bottom. Add the shrimp and bok choy cook just until heated through. Transfer the noodles to a large platter, sprinkle with the chiles and peanuts and serve with lime wedges.

Chicken- The recipe calls for shrimp, but combining the two makes the dish more filling.

Extra chilies and scallions to top the dish- I love my noodles spicy, and the scallions add a freshness and crunch.

Miso paste- In reality, I could not find it in the two grocery stores I visited, so I gave up. The dish tasted great without miso paste anyway.

Salted cashews instead of peanuts- I had cashews in my pantry already. I toasted a handful, roughly chopped them and sprinkled it over the noodles.

As a texture eater, Pad See Yew hits all the high notes for me&ndashit has crunch, freshness and a pinch of heat to fulfill your insatiable after-work appetite. If you&rsquore not a fan of rice stick noodles, you might want to substitute for a flat noodle. Make sure to set a timer to cook the noodles to the right texture and let the dish sit after mixing in all the different ingredients so the flavors really set in.

Pad See Yew is an easy weeknight dinner recipe, taking under forty minutes to prepare (including prep time). Try preparing this recipe for a romantic date night in. Pair it with your favorite bottle of wine and let yourself be transported to Thailand.

Learn all about how to make authentic Mee Ka Tee, a Lao and Thai coconut noodle with pork recipe. This is a delicious noodle soup &hellip

Meet Lane

Hi, I'm Lane! I love sharing my love of authentic Vietnamese, Lao, and Thai food! I moved into the states in the 1980s. During my life change, I brought along with my delicious recipes from Vietnam (my descent), Laos (where I was born), and Thailand (where I was a refugee during the war). I'm passionate about showing how anyone can make these delicious cuisines and how you can make it right at home! Learn more .

1. Nasi Goreng – Indonesia

If you like fried rice, you can’t miss the Indonesian and Malay version called nasi goreng. It is cooked with a chili paste consisting of bird’s-eye chili, shallot, garlic, belacan (a local shrimp paste), and anchovies.

2. Beef Pho – Vietnam

This Southern-style pho is the ultimate Vietnamese noodle soup. Although pho originally comes from Hanoi in the north, it’s popular all across the country. Southern Vietnam makes pho a little ‘punchier’, with more herbs, spices and star anise. This recipe is gluten-free, except for the hoisin sauce which you can easily serve on the side.

3. Burmese Khow Suey – Myanmar

If you can call something a bowl of happiness, this could well be it. Burmese Khow Suey is a delicious noodle dish made with egg noodles, curried chicken and coconut milk. Served with a variety of condiments, each spoon full of soup you eat will be bursting with flavours!

4. Slow Cooker Beef Rendang – Malaysia

Packed with flaky, fall-apart beef cooked in creamy coconut milk with fragrant lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, ginger and a myriad of spices, this traditional Malaysian slow cooker beef rendang can be left to bubble away in the kitchen while you get on with your day!

5. Cambodian Prawn Amok – Cambodia

Cambodian Amok is a wonderfully fragrant Cambodian curry that uses lemongrass, turmeric, garlic, chilli, ginger and shallot to create a powerfully flavoursome curry paste. You’ll find this traditional dish in restaurants all across the country.

6. Larb Gai – Thailand

Larb Gai is with chicken, but it can be made with any type of ground meat ( pork, beef, or turkey). This dish is quick and easy to make with very few ingredients. The only one that may be difficult to find is the toasted rice powder, which gives Larb its unique flavor and texture.

7. Chicken Adobo – The Philippines

Chicken Adobo is a Filipino dish made by braising chicken legs (thighs and/or drumsticks) in a sauce made up of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper.

Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

This tasty version of a mixed salad originated from the native people of Indonesia. It typically consists of tofu, eggs, a variety of vegetables, and tempeh (a plant-based protein made using fermented soybeans). It also comes with a cashew or peanut sauce.

You can Gado-Gado by itself or pair it with other foods, such as chicken and rice. You’ll find this classic street food sold at Hawker centers and vendors along the street. You can eat this delectable dish for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Curry Puff

  • Preparation: 45 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Clean up: 20 min


Combine dough

  • In a mixing bowl, add flour, 1⁄2 tsp baking powder, 1⁄2 tsp salt, 90g margarine and stir in 60 ml water until it forms a dough.
  • Cover and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.

| The shortcut to this is to use frozen prata for the crust. The result would be a puff pastry version.

Cook curry potato filling

  • Cut potatoes into cubes (approximately 2 cm in size) and set aside.
  • In a pan on medium heat, add 2 tbsp vegetable oil.
  • When hot, add onions and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Once onions are soft, add potatoes and 1½ tbsp curry powder. Stir well.
  • Season with 1 tsp sugar, and to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add 250ml of water.
  • Cook till potatoes are tender.

Ikan Salai Masak Lemak (Smoked Tilapia in Coconut Gravy)

Form curry puff

  • Generously sprinkle flour on a non-stick, flat surface/ tabletop.
  • Separate dough into 8 equal portions, androll out to about 10 cm wide pieces.
  • Divide curry potato filling into 8 portions.
  • For each puff, add 1 portion filling and 1⁄4 hard-boiled egg in the centre of the dough.
  • Fold the pastry in half and press and pleat edges together to seal.
  • Repeat for all and set aside.

Deep fry

  • In a pot on medium filled with hot vegetable oil, deep-fry the curry puffs for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Set aside to drain excess oil on paper towels.

| For a healthier option, the puffs can be oven baked instead of deep fried -

Plate and Serve!

| When filling the curry puff, place egg in the middle before adding potato filling to keep the shape of the curry puff

10. Fish Ambul Thiyal

This is a well-liked Sri Lankan dried fish curry exhibiting a sour taste. The fish is cut into cubes and then sautéed in a mixture of spices such as black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic and curry leaves. The most important ingredient of this dish is dried goraka, which helps in its preservation and also gives it the sour taste. This sour fish curry is typically eaten with rice.