This soup is prepared with white miso, a pungent paste made from soya beans and yellow in colour. (There is also a saltier version, which is reddish-brown.) Traditionally, miso soups use dashi, a stock made from kelp and dried fish flakes. Both miso and dashi are available in Asian markets.
This refreshing fruity salad appears in its many guises in Indonesia and Malaysia. Designed to be flexible, it is tossed in a pungent and tangy dressing and can include any choice of fruit and vegetables you like.
This strong, fiery taste is typical of Malay cuisine, so this pungent chilli condiment is served with almost every dish. A little spoonful seems to go with everything – chunks of bread, rice, grilled foods and stirfried vegetables. Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian fermented shrimp pastes can be found in Asian markets and some supermarkets.
The tart, crunchy flesh of green papayas complements spicy grilled or stirfried dishes beautifully. This Filipino version is sweet and sour, but there are many variations throughout Asia.
In the rural areas of the Philippines, this traditional peasant dish is still cooked daily. One of the most popular versions is this one, with green papaya in the broth, which is generally served with steamed rice or sipped throughout the meal to cleanse and stimulate the palate.
Wontons are small, delicate dumplings filled with a pork and prawn mixture. They can be deep-fried and served as a snack, or poached in a fragrant broth and served with rice or noodles. Wonton wrappers are available in Asian markets.
Bok choy, the common Chinese cabbage, is popular in all Chinese cooking. Readily available in Asian markets and supermarkets, it can be served as an accompaniment to a meat or poultry dish, or as a dish on its own.
Traditionally spring rolls were prepared to celebrate the spring harvest and were, accordingly, packed with vegetables. Spring roll wrappers are available in Asian markets.
A great favourite at the Malay and Chinese hawker stalls in Singapore, these deep-fried steamed rolls are delicious served with a relish or with a dipping sauce. Fresh bean curd sheets are available in Chinese and Asian markets.
Served with coconut rice, or as an accompaniment to grilled meat and poultry, this dish is popular at the hawker stalls in Singapore. Generally, the aubergines are deep-fried, but if you prefer, you can bake them in the oven.
Chilli crab is an all-time favourite at hawker stalls and cafés in Singapore. To eat the crabs, crack the shells, then suck and dip the meat into the cooking sauce. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce. Bowls are usually provided for the discarded pieces of shell and another with water for cleaning your fingers.
This dish is very popular in Japan and often the chicken livers and gizzards are skewered and served too. You can make your own yakitori sauce or buy a commercially prepared version in Asian shops.
These beef rolls filled with spring onions are typical of Japanese fare – delicate to the eye and subtle to taste. To slice the beef finely, partially freeze it first to keep it firm, or look for ready-prepared slices in the Asian markets.
This delicious dish of stirfried potatoes is often served on its own as a snack with pickled vegetables. It is also a tasty accompaniment to a number of curries and grilled dishes.
In this traditional recipe the fish is braised until it practically falls apart, so you need to use a firm, fatty fish such as mackerel, sea bass or trout.
Like most Thai curries, this recipe is prepared with coconut milk and one of the national curry pastes, which include red, green and yellow versions. Commercial Thai curry pastes are available in Asian shops and some supermarkets.
Coloured and flavoured with the ubiquitous red curry paste, this curry is enhanced with the additional flavourings of coriander, cumin, turmeric and mace, displaying the Indian influence in the northern region of Thailand.
Aubergine curries are popular throughout Asia, the Thai version being the most famous. Generally enriched with coconut milk and warming spices, the Thai version is bittersweet from the kaffir lime leaves with a hint of liquorice from the basil.
This is one of the most common ways of preparing pork at Chinese street stalls and in restaurants. Marinated in honey, rice wine and soy sauce, the pork can be grilled, fried or roasted.
Sold at Chinese and Nonya hawker stalls in Singapore, this is a great recipe for using up leftover roast duck. It can be served hot with rice, or at room temperature as a salad.
Variations of this fiery, flavoursome vegetarian curry spring up all over Cambodia and southern Vietnam. A favourite with the Buddhist monks and countryside stalls, it can be served with rice, noodles or crusty bread.
Ginger plays a big role in Cambodian cooking, particularly in stirfried dishes. Whenever possible, the juicier and more pungent young ginger – available in Asian markets – is used.
Prepared for breakfast, lunch or supper in the north of Vietnam, this aromatic beef stew is generally served with plain noodles, sticky rice or with chunks of bread to dip in it.
There are numerous ways of preparing tofu in Asia, but this is a particularly delicious one. Serve it on its own or with stir-fried noodles or rice, or as part of a vegetarian meal.
This classic Filipino dish is often served for breakfast. It is a great way of using up leftover rice and is delicious served on its own or with meat and poultry dishes. If you do not have any leftover rice, cook 225 g (1⁄2 lb) of rice the day before, using the absorption method, and refrigerate until ready to use. The Filipinos serve this rice with coconut vinegar; they dip spoonfuls or fingerfuls of the rice into small bowls of the vinegar.
Spit-roasted in the streets or oven-roasted in the home kitchen for celebratory feasts, variations of aromatic roast chicken can be found all over the Philippines.
Slow-cooked with lots of pungent spices, this tender lamb curry is customarily served with sticky or coconut rice and a pickled relish, chilli relish or fresh chillies.
As is the nature of many Asian stews, this dish lies somewhere between a stew and a soup, ideal for serving with sticky rice or noodles. Choose small, firm star fruit so that they retain a slight tartness.
This unusually crispy chicken is cooked twice – first in spices and flavourings to ensure a depth of taste and then deep-fried to form a crisp, golden skin.
Laced with chillies, this hot pot is devilishly hot! A great favourite for family celebrations, it is often served as a meal on its own with breads to mop up the sauce.
Sticky rice (also called glutinous rice) requires a long soaking in water before being cooked in a bamboo steamer. It is eaten on its own with dipping sauces, or it is served to accompany light dishes and vegetarian meals. Sticky rice grains are available in Asian markets and some supermarkets.
This type of refreshing sorbet is often enjoyed as a refreshing snack on a hot day, but in restaurants, it is served at the end of the meal or during it to cleanse the palate. Fresh lychees are available in Asian shops and large supermarkets.
One thing you can be sure to come across in your journeys throughout Southeast Asia is deep-fried bananas. Versatile and delicious, they are often munched on their own, sprinkled with sugar, or they can be served with sweet sticky rice, ice creams or steamed cakes and buns.
In Cambodia and Thailand, this traditional pudding is often served as a sweet snack. Once the custard-filled pumpkin is baked, the flesh is scooped out with the custard and a hot, sweet coconut sauce is drizzled over the top.
Tea infused with ginger is a speciality of the high-altitude regions of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is also the preferred breakfast beverage in the Philippines. It is believed to stimulate the digestion and to be beneficial to health.
Throughout Asia, this is the type of pudding that everybody’s mother or grandmother makes. Sweet and nourishing, it is made with tapioca pearls cooked in coconut milk and sweetened with fruit and sugar.
There are many different laksas, but all are based on noodles cooked in a spicy coconut broth. Rich and creamy, Singapore laksa marries the Malay and Chinese styles of cooking.
Coloured yellow by vibrant turmeric powder, this Malaysian rice is often served at festivals and at Malay and Indonesian food stalls. Regular, long- or short-grain rice can be used for this dish, which is made by the traditional absorption method.
This dish of fried rice is one of Indonesia’s national dishes, and can be cooked at makeshift street stalls or top-class restaurants. The recipes involves a lot of frying with hot oil so get an adult to help you with these stages.
Perhaps the best-known Japanese sauce, teriyaki sauce is often served with chicken or fish. Traditionally it is brushed onto meat, chicken or fish, just as it comes off the grill, but it can also be served as a dipping sauce.
Rice porridge is popular throughout Asia, where it is often served for breakfast or as a snack. The basic porridge is generally served with leftover dishes or with family favourites such as salted or pickled fish and spicy sausages.
This versatile herbal paste includes the three key components of Cambodian cooking – lemongrass, galangal and turmeric. It is used to flavour many soups and stirfries, and it is rubbed on meat and fish before grilling over charcoal.
This is the classic stirfried noodle dish sold everywhere in Thailand by street hawkers and in cafes and restaurants. Dried shrimp are available in Asian markets.
Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat and can be bought dried or frozen in Asian markets. This recipe can be prepared with fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms.
The crunchy texture of bamboo shoots is prized for salads and stirfries in Japan. Fresh bamboo shoots, which need to be boiled for 15 minutes before using, are available in some Asian markets, but tinned bamboo shoots are available in all supermarkets.
This traditional Filipino dish of baby squid stuffed with a tasty mixture of breadcrumbs and Spanish ham reflects the Spanish influence in the nation’s cuisine.
This is a great favourite from Malaysia. Rather expertly, the Malaysians crunch the whole prawn, sucking in all the tamarind flavouring, while spitting out the bits of shell.
This popular Vietnamese dish can be prepared with fish or shellfish or both. In the Vietnamese markets, large crabs are sold specifically for this versatile dish, which can easily be adapted to feed as many people as you like.
This popular Filipino dipping sauce can be served with anything, but it is particularly delicious with fish and rice dishes. Made with the small kalamansi limes (calamondin oranges), it refreshes and enhances the flavour of many dishes.
The Koreans enjoy drinking a variety of fruit and spice infusions as a digestive after a meal. Generally sweetened with honey, they can be drunk hot or chilled.
Early in the morning or late at night in Asia, the sight of the soya milk vendor is a welcome one. Served hot or cold, this sweetened drink is very popular throughout the continent.
Served as a side dish or salad, this is a favourite throughout Southeast Asia. Served with sticky rice or chunks of crusty bread, the dish could suffice as a light vegetarian meal.
This unique pickled cabbage, kimchi, is served as an accompaniment to almost any dish in Korea, and it is also a popular snack. Some cooks combine the pickling liquid with water and heat it up as the stock for this soup. You can find jars of kimchi at Asian markets.
This flexible fruit salad is exotic and tropical in flavor – a delicious treat at the end of a Southeast Asian meal. The fruits will vary from region to region and according to the seasons.
Throughout Asia, sweet sticky rice, often topped with a little sweetened coconut milk or coconut cream, is one of the most popular snacks. Black sticky rice turns a gorgeous purple when cooked.
Delicate and warming, ginger custard is a great favourite of the Vietnamese and Chinese. Served chilled, the individual custards are often enjoyed as a sweet mid-afternoon or late-evening snack.
This is Vietnam’s answer to China’s 'Peking Duck', which is served in three courses. The Vietnamese, on the other hand, generally serve it as one course with pickled vegetables, dipping sauces and steamed rice.
This is one of the most popular ice creams in the Philippines, where sweet, juicy mangoes grow in abundance. It is also a great favourite in other parts of Asia, where it is enjoyed at family celebrations and religious feasts.
Traditionally this dish is prepared with short ribs, but you can use a cut of meat of your own choice. Gingko nuts are available in Asian shops and some supermarkets.
Beware of just how much sugar or sweetener you are using in your Japanese dishes and where possible use an alternative such as honey or apple juice, or buy good brands of mirin (outside of Japan the Clearspring brand is truly heavenly).
The use of mayonnaise in sushi started in California and was later introduced into Japan. Use the following recipe as a dipping sauce (alternative to soy sauce) rather than adding it to maki rolls, but your own palate will let you know how you feel about using it.
This is a delicious main course salad full of intense flavours and textures – a salad that is guaranteed to become a family favourite.
Appreciated for their beauty and subtle flavour, winter melon and tiger lilies are available in Asian markets. When choosing tiger lilies, make sure they are light golden in colour.
Fine vermicelli noodles make a fabulous base for salads. They are wonderful here, dressed in a ginger and sesame dressing scented with fresh herbs.
With its taste of the tropics, this rice dish is wonderful with barbecued, steamed, fried, baked or roasted seafood. You can find the coconut and the curry leaves at Asian markets or health food stores.
Add a little coconut to the batter and you’ve got a crunchy, exotic, crowd-pleasing appetiser like this one, adapted from a recipe by Paul Prudhomme. These disappear fast, so make more than you think you’ll need.
This vinegary dipping sauce enhances the taste of grilled foods or raw vegetables. It can also be used as a marinade for meat, poultry or seafood to be grilled or as a dressing for salads. This sauce keeps well in the refrigerator.
Known as tom yum goong, this popular soup gets its sour flavour from both the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Both ingredients – plus fresh galangal and tamarind paste – are available at better grocery stores or Asian markets and can be frozen for future use.
This is a very popular stirfried dish in Singapore, particularly with the Chinese population. Served at Malay, Indian and Chinese hawker stalls, the dish is packed with ingredients and suffices as a meal on its own.
This popular dipping sauce varies in sweet, sour and fiery degrees, depending on the cook and the region. It can be served with everything from spring rolls to grilled meats and seafoods.
Filipino cooking incorporates oxtail in numerous ways. The finely ground peanuts enrich the sauce and give this dish its own character. You can grind your own nuts, or purchase powdered peanuts in an Asian market. Banana hearts are found in tins in Asian shops.
This is a very popular dipping sauce for fried and grilled meats and steamed vegetables. Similar to the peanut sauces of Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, it is always available at street stalls. To make an authentic peanut sauce, the peanuts must be very finely ground, which can be done in an electric blender.
There are many variations of this delicious coconut milk-based curry all over Southeast Asia. Because there is a strong Indian influence in the culinary culture of southern Vietnam, this variation uses Indian curry powder.