17 Must-Try Foods in Southeast Asia

There are many reasons to be excited for a pending trip to Southeast Asia – the different cultures, the people, the incredible landscapes and not to mention the stunning sunsets.

But let’s get real, when we’re travelling to Asia there’s only thing on our minds: the food.

We’ve put together 17 dishes that you might have sampled elsewhere in the world, but that you must have when travelling throughout Southeast Asia.

 

1. Laksa

A combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine, Laksa is a spicy noodle soup commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

 

2. Pad Thai

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Originating in Thailand, Pad Thai is a dish available at most street stalls and restaurants across the country. It’s made of stir fried rice noodles and served with either chicken, fish, seafood, pork and sometimes vegetables alone.

 

3. Pho

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Vietnamese noodle soup of rice noodles, broth, herbs, onions and meat, generally chicken or beef.

 

4. Larb

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This mince meat salad flavoured with lime and fish sauce is the national dish of Laos. Can be made with duck, chicken, beef, pork, fish or mushrooms.

 

5. Durian Fruit

Native to Southeast Asia, The Durian is regarded as the ‘King of the Fruits’. The thorn covered husk is home to a distinctly odoured, edible yellow flesh.

 

6. Spring Rolls

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Spring rolls will differ from region to region, made with meat or vegetables and wrapped in rice paper, either served fresh or fried.

 

7. Cao Lau

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Originally from Hoi An, Cao Lau is a Vietnamese ‘mixing dish’ made of rice noodles, local greens and pork.

 

8. Papaya Salad

Originally from Lao, salad of shredded unripe papaya has spread throughout Southeast Asia. It combines the 5 main tastes of local cuisine: sour, hot, salty, savoury, and sweetness.

 

9. Nasi Kerabu

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A blue steamed rice dish, mixed with vegetables, herbs and eaten with fried chicken or dried fish. It is usually accompanied by a variety of side dishes, including pickles, crackers and egg.

 

10. Cabbage Salad

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This refreshing Southeast Asia salad will differ depending on which region you are visiting. It is generally made with cabbage, carrots, mint and roasted peanuts.

 

11. Assam Laksa

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A slightly more sour member of the laksa family, this fish-tamarind based soup is made with shredded fish, finely sliced vegetables and rice noodles.

 

12. Massaman Curry

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An interpretation of a Persian dish, this Thai curry is a rich, red curry, traditionally made with chicken.

 

13. Tandoori Chicken

Widely popular across Asia and Southeast Asia, this dish originates from India. Chicken seasoned in a paste of turmeric, paprika, chilli powder and cayenne powder is roasted in a Tandoor oven and served with raita.

 

14. Amok

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Amok is a thick coconut cream and galangal (relative of ginger) curry from Cambodia that gets its name the ‘amok’ process of steam cooking curry in banana leaves.

 

15. Khao Soi

Meaning ‘cut rice’, this rice or egg noodle based curry soup is served throughout Laos and Thailand.

 

16. Banh Mi

The ‘Vietnamese sandwich’ is an airy baguette, filled with liver pâté, some form of pork (usually sausage, barbecued or cold cuts) and topped with cucumber, pickled carrots & daikon, cilantro and crushed peanuts.

 

17. Bao

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Tracing its origins back to China, this steamed, bread-like, bun comes in many shapes and with many fillings.

Featured image by: Charles Haynes