With overseas travel becoming more affordable and popular in recent years, international cuisine is fast becoming the same.
Curries, stir fries, noodles, sushi – they are available everywhere now and the best thing about these South East Asian eats is that they’re quick, clean and wholesome.
Travelling South East Asia last year was a culinary feast for me as a foodie, I literally couldn’t wait for the next time I would be hungry and my bucket list mainly contained local, ethnic dishes I had heard about before the trip.
Anyone who has been to South East Asia will agree with me that the locals like to cook fast. The main means to a main meal in South East Asia is usually a giant hot wok where you throw all of your
desired ingredients in and let the fusion begin. With most of these countries belonging to the third world, you will also see that the locals will source their food as fresh and as cheap as possible with vegetarian dishes being hugely popular
due to the high cost of meat and poultry.
A foodies dream, South East Asia dared me to push my taste buds to the max and dip outside my comfort zone every now and then by trying something new and bizarre.
The intense aroma of chili and garlic fusing together with fresh coriander and basil winding its way through a busy food market is really something else!
I took notes of every dish that delighted or surprised me, guessing what flavours were used to make me so satisfied.
I also took a Thai Cooking Class in Northern Thailand to learn as much as I could about the core fundamentals of South East Asian cuisine.
I would like to share with you some of my favourite dishes from the trip over a series of posts and hopefully give you some Asian Inspiration for your next meal.
First up is an all ’round favourite – Thai Green Curry.
Here you will see how to create the paste from scratch and I’ll add a quick recipe to throw it together at the end.
5 fresh Green Chilis, finely chopped
1 Tsp. Salt
1 thumb Lemongrass, finely chopped
5 cloves Garlic, crushed
3 Shallots, sliced
1/4 lime, sliced
1 Tbsp. Coriander, chopped
1 Tsp. Turmeric
1 Tsp. Shrimp Paste
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
1/2 Tsp. Cumin Seeds
1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
Using a food processor, pestle and mortar, coffee grinder; combine ground coriander, cumin seeds and black pepper.
Add the green chilis and salt and mix thoroughly.
Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the shrimp paste and combine together.
Once youve reached a smooth paste-like consistency, add the shrimp paste and mix until smooth and fine.
*If you want to make the paste greener, add in some coriander or basil leaf and combine.
You now have your paste!
I know its much easier just to buy from the jar but trust me, it tastes far better when you make it yourself – so authentic!
*To make a thai green curry with your paste, brown a chopped onion on a hot pan and add 2 Tsp. of the paste.
Stir in 1/2 cup of coconut milk and stir until mixed through.
Add your sliced meat of choice, I usually use chicken or prawns and stir until meat is cooked through.
Gradually add another 1/2 cup of coconut milk and 1 Tbsp. fish sauce and stir through.
Leave to bubble on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes and serve with steamed rice.
Vietnamese Noodle Soup
This is one of my favourite quick dishes to throw together.
It takes no time at all and is so yum!
500 ml vegetable or chicken stock
50 grams rice noodles
5-8 mushrooms, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts, washed
1 cup bok choy leaves, chopped
1/2 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 red chilli, sliced and de-seeded
Pinch of garlic powder
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tpsn. Fish Sauce
1/2 cup thinly sliced meat of choice (chicken, beef, pork or a handful of prawns)
I don’t really have too much of a method for this one, its usually just me throwing it all in and hoping for the best.
In a small pot, bring your stock to the boil.
Once bubbling, add the thinly sliced meat of choice and let it cook in the stock for about 5 minutes to make your broth.
Add mushrooms, spring onion, carrots, garlic and fish sauce and let fuse until mushrooms are soft.
Add rice noodles and cook for about 5 minutes.
At this stage, do a taste test and see what you want to add more of, garlic, chilli flakes, salt, whatever.
Once you’re happy with the flavour, throw in the fresh chilis, bean sprouts, bok choy and soy sauce and let them warm up for about a minute or two.
Transfer from the pot to a bowl and dig in.
My mouth is actually watering writing this, I think I know whats on the menu for me today!