South East Asia – Food to Eat
South East Asian food is extremely diverse and varied. It is influenced by traditional food from each country’s native indigenous population as well as major influences from Indian cooking to the west, Chinese cooking to the north and Pacific and Indian ocean islander cooking. Of course, in today’s multicultural world you can find literally any international food to eat in any of South East Asia’s cities.
Let’s take a look at food in Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
Cambodian food is like most Asian food in the region, however, Phnom Penh is famous for its Ka tieu, which is a variation on a rice-noodle soup made of rice noodles with pork broth. It is spicy and sweet at the same time.
As with most Asian food, Cambodian food is based on the staples of rice and noodles, which are either made into a hearty soup or used as the base for a dish made with meat and vegetables which is placed on top.
Some of the herbs and spices that are used in Cambodian cooking which give the food its unique flavor are Rice paddy herbs, fishwort, peppermint, chives, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, bok choy and different types of yams.
For meat, regular meat is used the most such as beef, pork and chicken, however, because Cambodia has such vast access to the best seafood in the world their cuisine is also heavily based on the fruits of the sea.
Vietnamese food is often called the ‘light cuisine’ of Asia. Filled with fresh herbs and greens, a dash of grilled or fried meat either served in soup or on a plate with noodles or rice, the Vietnamese eat a lot but in small quantities at a time. Food to eat in Vietnam is very easy to find in most places even 24 hours a day, so no matter how tired you are after a long day at the beach or trekking through the jungle, you’ll always find a hearty soup to fill your stomach.
You won’t be able to spend enough time – probably not even a lifetime is enough – to try out the over 1,200 recipes that are part of Vietnamese cooking!
As with many other Asian foods, Malay cuisine is heavily based on the staples of rice and noodles, served with greens and fried or grilled vegetables. Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur in particular has always a travel hub for all of Asia and as a result its food isn’t a monolithic one-flavor-fits-all, but a mix of Malay, Indian, Eurasian, Chinese, Nyonya and Bornean indigenous tribal food.
With the thousands of recipes available and the time required to eat them all, it doesn’t really matter where you start. But once you do, you’ll never stop.
As with Malaysia, Singapore is an ethnic travel hub for much of Asia and its food hails from Chinese, Indonesian and Indian backgrounds as well as a lot of English influence from the old colonial days. The concept of cafes and restaurants is not alien to Singapore, but most people prefer to eat their meals in food courts instead if they’re not cooking at home.