Did You Know That Asian Food is a Tourist Attraction? Foreigners Actually Come to Asia to Sample some of Them!
According to experts and economists, Asia will soon experience the next renaissance and it will be as grand and as pivotal as what Europe had experienced in the Middle Ages. But while most Asian countries are still in the third-world status we see another side of it flourishing and already fulfilling this prophecy (of sorts) and it has to do with Asian food! Since Asia is such a huge continent with various influences from multiple regions, flavors and cultures that, it makes it difficult to choose which Asian delicacy is commonly accepted as the most delicious. However, we found some Asian dishes that are popular across several Asian countries and they’re even popular to some foreign countries as well.
In some cases heated debates happen among restaurant owners and street vendors as to who created what dish and from which country they came from. But does that really matter? What’s important is that these Asian foods are very palatable!
Here are 10 best Asian foods to get you started:
If Americans have hotdogs, then Asians have fish balls. And no, they are not the literal balls or eggs of the fish, but rather pulverized or pressed fish meat, eaten on a stick or as soup. You can buy fish balls from any street food vendor – you’ll most certainly find one in almost any street corner or market row – and they’re quite cheap but are very tasty. You can purchase them cooked, fried or steamed and they are considered to be inexpensive snacks for “in-between meals.” In the Philippines it’s called “merienda” which is actually a Spanish term for light meals, but sometimes people treat it as a regular meal and eat it with rice or noodles, especially those who are poor or have below average wage.
Not all fish balls are cheap because there are restaurants (like the Aberdeen Fishball & Noodle Restaurant in Hong Kong) that have elevated this delicacy enough to charge hungry customers around $19 – $51 (HK$150 – $400) for a well prepared meal. Vinegar, garlic, sweet soy sauce or spring onions are added to make the delicacy a bit more fragrant and sweet to smell.
Now here’s an Asian delicacy that the Singaporeans want to patent as they adamantly claim that they invented it – the Laksa. Although not much is known about its origin or the meaning of the name “Laksa” for that matter, it is believed by many that this Asian food derived from the Chinese-Malay culture interaction since the 1300 AD. This cuisine is notoriously known for its ability to push your sense of taste to the edge. It literally is so delicious that Singaporeans would take a $20 ride from one end of their country to the other end just to enjoy a special $3 Laksa. Sounds crazy isn’t it? Well if the ingredients won’t drive you mad over it, then maybe its popularity will. That’s because its sweet (coconut) tastes with sour (lemon grass or citrus) influences with more standard fare (thick noodles, egg and tofu) never leaves people’s mouths and the flavor somehow translates into words in various tongues.
The amount of liquid used in cooking it also varies from light and viscous thick sap to the soup like stew. The best thing about the Laksa is that you can use various ingredients to substitute the standard seafood portion with chicken or hard-boiled eggs or even beef and pork. The Laksa is so popular in Asia that even Australians have started to offer it in their restaurants!
Hainanese Chicken Rice
The Hainanese Chicken Rice is another favorite Asian food to locals and foreigners alike and is probably one of the simplest meals to prepare as it is only consisted of white rice, plain white chicken and condiments (cucumber, eggs or lettuce). But what makes it endearing is how the chicken is cooked, and in fact, you can separate it as a completely different meal on its own. The chicken is mainly boiled in its own broth or stock along with its bones and they let it simmer for at least 2 hours, the chicken soup is then used over and over again to gain until the desired taste is achieved. In some parts in Asia they treat the boiled chicken as the meal itself and eat it with rice. They boil it with moringa and add tamarind fruit, some seasoning, ginger, tomatoes, salt and onions to enhance the taste. Once you get a taste of the boiled chicken, the chicken soup and condiments, then you’ll know why it made it to this list.
Spring rolls, lumpia or ngohyong is another Asian cuisine that’s similar to the footlong chesedog you enjoy in America, except they’re a bit spicy since it’s Asian food. You can find spring rolls all over Asia and they’re mainly popular in China, Vietnam Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia Taiwan among other countries. Ingredients include minced pork, carrot, bean sprouts, fresh garlic chives, vermicelli noodles, and shitake mushrooms. Soy sauce, peanut powder or fish sauce is sometimes used as dips to add taste to it. Spring rolls can be eaten raw, boiled or blanched and depending on which country you’re in, you will have various kinds of raw or cooked meats or vegetables in your spring rolls. It is said that spring rolls from Vietnam are the most delicious in all of Asia!
Popular Asian Food are now Becoming an Expensive Delicacy in some Restaurants
Here’s an Asian cuisine that needs no fancy introduction as Westerners have known this delicacy since the 1960s. Dim sum come from the Cantonese word meaning ‘a little token’ which perfectly describes this food, because it comes in small steamer baskets like little treasures of food instead of gold, silver or precious jewels like the ones you see in pirate movies. There is no specific ingredient for dim sums as by nature they come in a wide variety of rolls, paus, dumplings, meat balls, sweet desserts, cakes, tarts and puddings. The Chinese people have a saying when eating dim sums and it goes like this, “eat as many as you can because dim sums will never run out.”
Pretty neat isn’t it? Considering how dim sums are served in restaurants as they are included in buffets or are served like side dishes or wheeled around on trolleys.
The practice of fried rice cooking goes back thousands of years and once again it all started in China. Asians are not fond of throwing away leftovers and they consider food as blessings from the gods, so if you throw away food for no other reason other than they are spoiled, you will be cursed. In order to remove the flat taste of leftover rice Chinese cooks got creative and fried the rice with vegetable oil, add some soya-sauce, garlic, shallots or other spicy food. In the latter years Asian chefs even added to the basic cooking method of fried rice and now you will find vegetables, meat or different sambals, eggs, satay, rice or prawn crackers (krupuk) in them which makes them even more delicious than ever before!
Of course in other countries they cook it with varying ingredients to steer away from the traditional Chinese way of preparing fried rice and reinvent it as their own. Fried rice is a standalone meal, in fact, you can eat it as is and never need additional viands. It’s easy to cook, it’s delicious and it’s cheap which is everything what Asians want in their food.
A recipe from Thailand is conquering the Asian continent fast! The tom yum spicy-sour seafood soup is rumored to have a wild taste that everyone needs to try. Apparently they cook it with smashed lemon grass, tamarind and lime, then add different kinds of seafood meat in it such as prawns, squid or fish pieces or even chicken (for an alternative taste perhaps?) plus some vegetables, like oyster mushrooms or coriander leaves. The result is a delicious murky spicy soup with a sour tinge to it that will send chemical signals all over your mouth and brain to react to the taste. It’s famous in places like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, but its popularity might have already reached other Asian countries already and we’ve just missed out on the news. We’ll have to visit the street food vendors and local restaurants in Asia to find out.
Another cuisine that does not need any introduction, because well, everybody knows it and loves it, is the chicken curry. Chicken curry is a well known delicacy all over Asia. From India, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Borneo Malaysia all the way to Hong Kong and even mainland China. You can order a delicious chicken curry in almost any restaurant in Asia, but just a heads up though, depending on the country you are in, you might get a different look and taste served on your table. So it may be a good idea to research the different types of curry being served in different Asian countries. The most commonly known curries are the chicken curries of Thailand which chefs cook with masala curries that Indians also use. Lately, chefs have experimented with other meat and made seafood, beef and pork curries from it. The result is an extravaganza of flavours that people discover and sealed the curry’s place forever in the kitchen anals. This is one Asian food that is loved by all!
You must wonder why sushi comes in next to chicken curry, don’t you? Well, that’s because it’s as famous as the chicken curry is and is known worldwide also! You need to have the right kind of rice, seaweed wrappers and soy sauce in order to make sushi, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. In fact, the Japanese considers it as an art. There’s probably at least one sushi restaurant in every main city of every country in the world, and especially in Asia, everybody loves Japanese food just like Chinese and Thai food. You can order sushi at a local restaurant or if you prefer to prepare it at home, then just buy the ingredients like sweet, pickled ginger and wasabi (the green, tasty but very spicy paste that you dip the sushi in) are sold almost everywhere.
The last Asian food on our list is the satay, although it is being called sate, satay, satey, sati or any other variations of the native tongues depending on the country that you’re in. What is satay? Well, it’s basically meat on a stick roasted over charcoal or tree branches used as fuel to do convection cooking or heating, which is very similar to roasting using charcoal, except they use twigs and small trunks or chopped wood. Popular meat choices include pork, chicken and beef; however in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos they offer it in a much wider selection! This includes liver, heart or stomach of pigs or chicken. You can also find frogs or even bug meat on a stick. Fish, calamari, prawns or other sea creatures are also popular satays and they use various dips to eat it, peanut sauce is the most popular and mainly you have sticky rice or lontong as condiments or side dishes.
Of course there are other Asian food that I have not included in this list that are also very popular among Asians and foreigners alike, but for now these are the ones that I recommend that you should try.