As global cuisine continues to evolve, we are also witnessing a revolution of ethnic cuisine as it blends traditional and contemporary aspects into uniquely Asian creations. From pandan to durian, prepare to blow your mind with these peculiar but palatable dishes the region has to offer.
All Wrapped Up
The must-try staple in Asian diets, pandan with its distinct smell, holds a special place in the hearts of people around the region. It is commonly used in desserts like Vietnamese waffles, Singapore ice cream, and local Indonesian and Malaysian cakes. And now, Thailand has recreated this staple into a savory delight. The Thai Pandan Chicken combines flavors of juicy, tender and marinated boneless chicken wrapped in a large piece of pandan leaf, and deep fried, gifting the ordinary crispy and tender chicken with a subtle and fragrant aroma. By wrapping the chicken in pandan leaf, food enthusiasts can truly appreciate the taste of this authentic ingredient. For added flavor, try it with a sweet and salty sesame dipping sauce.
King of Fruit meets Chicken
Branded as the fruit with a smell like no other, the durian is regarded as the King of Asian fruit. In Malaysia, durian is not only the unmatched superior to all fruit but it is also a traditional condiment used in various Malay dishes as a side with rice. Tempoyak is durian fermented with salt at room temperature, any time – from two days to two weeks. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year. Mixed with coconut milk curries or pounded into a spicy dip with chillies, the creaminess and unique taste of the durian is served as a sauce or slow cooked with tender fried or fresh chicken pieces. If you’re ever in Puchong, Selangor, drop by the Patin Place Restaurant for a unique and delicious dining experience with Tempoyak Fried Chicken served with Nasi Lemak, the all-time local favorite.
Malaysia’s Chicken Tempoyak (Source: Food of Kalimantan)
Sweet, Savory and Weirdly Tender
Get ready for this peculiar but tasty combination of pork and caramel. Thit Kho To is a Vietnamese specialty often served with rice on Tet Nguyen Dan, the Vietnamese New Year and the nation’s most important holiday. At Den Long, a home-cooked Vietnamese restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, caramelized pork is served hot and fragrant in a claypot. While caramel is renowned for its sweet and bitter taste, the Vietnamese twist is a mild spicy taste along with an aromatic combination of ginger, fish sauce, spring onions and red chili – signature ingredients in every Asian cuisine. For a creamier sauce, add coconut milk or coconut water into the concoction, along with tender slow cooked pork for a sweet and salty taste. You can also substitute pork with chicken to go with this sweet and savory glaze.
Vietnamese Thit Kho To with Rice (Source: Burma Spice)