Wednesday 7 April 2010

Southeast Asian Favourites

When travelling through Southeast Asia last summer, I experienced some absolutely incredible food. Thai has always been my favourite cuisine and experiencing true Thai, Malaysian and Singaporeon food in their own countries only enhanced my passion and love for Southeast Asian cuisine. Verity and I participated in a two-day cookery course at Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School where we learned how to make various authentic Thai dishes through professionals. It was a pretty amazing two days! Here are some of the dishes I sampled and created during my travels.

Thai green curry, probably the most famous Thai dish. England's version simply doesn't compare. I think I naturally have a sweet tooth so prefere the red curry as it's usually served with fruit (pineapple and red grapes) but anything Thai I love!

Below is a Thai Penang Pork Curry. This was made with curry paste I had made earlier in the day, as shown in photos below. (We are wearing sunglasses to protect our eyes from the chillis when making the curry paste!)

On the cookery course we also made Thai fishcakes, Tom Yum soup, Chiang Mai curry, black rice pudding, Pad Thai, chicken glass noodle salad, waterchesnut pudding and sweet and sour vegetables (sooo good!).

One of my favourite desserts is deep fried banana (AKA banana fritters). In Chiang Mai we found them on a menu after searching many different restaurants and pubs and were extremely disappointed with what arrived on our table...

...yuck! This resembled a few strips of banana coated in BREADCRUMBS served with some sort of jam sauce... I hate wasting food but literally could not finish this.

Then we went to the night bazaar and found banana fritters on the menu again and decided to take another chance and to our delight we were served battered deep fried banana, and it was amaaaaaazing :)

Here is Verity enjoying it, we both agree it's best served with ice cream so it can melt on the hot banana....mmmmm!

On our jungle trek in Northern Thailand we were fortunate enough to sample some bugs. They tasted quite garlicky, I personally didn't have a problem with them and hear they are actually quite nutritious.

Rambutan is by far my favourite fruit of all time. I probably consumed hundreds of these pink and green hairy fruit during my month in Southeast Asia and am quite frankly suffering from withdrawal symptoms, tinned rambutan simply doesn't taste as good!

Next on my list of favourites would be Cappuccino Maltesers, even though they aren't remotely Thai I have no idea where else in the world they are sold?!

I think the second best possible way to experience a true Thai curry (after making one yourself in Chiang Mai Cookery School) would be to eat one straight off the street. We made sure we chose a stall where locals were eating from to ensure it was safe. Verity had a green tofu curry and I had a red, cost 60p each and came with rice, can't complain!

Swensens, again not exactly Thai cuisine, is amazing and we did have a cheeky (little!) ice cream sundae from there....mmmmm!

After Northern Thailand we headed south. Our first stop was Phi Phi where we discovered the ULTIMATE Thai banana pancake.

On Phi Phi we also experienced another set of banana fritters with ice cream in this little restaurant called Garlic. I admit that I had the most horrific garlic hangover after eating at this restaurant as the starter they served was 3 slices of baguette with about 4 diced cloves of garlic on each piece....blergh!!

If we felt peckish after dinner in Thailand we would visit the local 7Eleven (probably the best convenience store in the world!). 10 baht (20p) banana cake was a frequent purchase. On Koh Phangan a random motorcyclist drove past with a 7Eleven 10 baht banana cake in his basket and I picked it out of his basket as a joke and he gave it to me! Below shows Verity and I very happy with our free cake!

I am also holding a heart straw and free Singha beer from my Thai friend Tom :) good times!

Something again not Thai but still amazing was chicken schniztels baby! After our final night out on Koh Phangan the night after the Full Moon Party, 5 of us got our chicken schniztels at 8am after one last all-night party. The first photo below shows the 5 of us dancing through the sunrise... take me back!

There was this absolutely fabulous little bakery by one of the piers on Koh Phangan. It had the friendlest staff I have ever met, full air conditioning, free internet, and most importantly, a stunning array of beautiful cakes, slices and scones. We visited the bakery daily to satisfy our sugar fix and English craving. They sold scones for 50p which they served warm with jam and cream. Every day I went in there I asked if they had the 'chocolate rum balls' that I had spotted the first day we visited as they had sold out and I had foolishly chosen something else instead. They kept reassuring me that the chocolate rum balls would be out on the counter soon and on our very last day on Koh Phangan, they brought out the glorious chocolate rum balls! We waited in the bakery for about 5 hours for our ferry reading and writing and they brought out the beautiful chocolate rum ball on a plate with a gorgeous little chocolate flower.... such adorable people!

After Koh Phangan, Verity and I headed straight for the Perhentian Islands (a horrific 26 hour journey including ferries, buses, trains and taxis). There wasn't a great deal to do on these islands except chill out, swim and eat! So eating we did. We decided to try pineapple fritters as it was the first time we had seen them on the menu and they didn't disappoint, but still didn't match up to banana fritters.

After dinner we had a hot 'Milo' - a chocolate energy drink. We managed to sway the staff to give us some banana cake to dip into it, heaven!

We are now approaching my favourite meal.... of all time. Below is a photo of Malay style prawns (standard size).

These were amazing but sweet and sour in Thailand was even better so the next night we went for dinner I ordered sweet and sour prawns and asked, if I paid a little more money, would I be able to have some more prawns with my meal instead of the 5 I was given the night before. They asked me if I wanted a couple more, like 7, or if I wanted double. I definately decided double. The waiter then came over and said that the prawns they caught that day were massive so he was going to give me 7. This is what came out and it literally was THE most incredible meal of my life! Large sweet and sour prawns Malay style...

So so so so SO good!

The traditional breakfast in Malaysia is Rota Canai served with a curry sauce and a tea tarik. Tea tarik is normal tea but made with condensed milk.

After a nice long day of sunbathing and relaxing Verity and I would get a milkshake. Verity would get a Mars or Snickers and I got an M&M milkshake, so tasty and great to cool down with!

This was the gorgeous view we had while we schlurped on our milkshakes.

After the Perhentian Islands we went to Kuala Lumpur where we discovered a whole stall devoted to bagels! We bought an Oreo bagel and I bought a Mexicali bagel with cheese and jalapeƱos, yum!

I found this very interesting peanut pancake down Petaling Street in China Town. It cost 14p a slice! Definately a cheap lunch for me.

Despite being in Malaysia we ate Indian in a restaurant close to our hostel and fell in love with garlic naan and tarka dahl, awesome combination.

After Malaysia we arrived at our final destination, Singapore. Here we ate a fair amount of Indian as we stayed in Little India. When we first arrived we ate off of a banana leaf!

We were in Singapore during the Singapore Food Festival however it was pretty dead at the time we arrived and had other plans during the day so didn't really get to see a lot.

On our last night we were craving sweet and sour prawns but it seemed a bit too expensive in the restaurant we found, so went for yet another Indian. This dish below may not look incredibly appetising but it was surprisingly almost as tasty as the Malay sweet and sour prawns. We chose each part of the dish from the front and was stunned in the fact that every single choice I made was unbelievable in flavour and texture. Well done Asia!

Last, but not least, is my newly favourite cocktail the Singapore Sling. I thought I may as well go all out and pay the £14 or however much it was to have the Singapore Sling in Long Bar in the Raffles hotel (as it's apparantly "the place" to have a Singapore Sling). The combination of flavours suited me perfectly - pineapple, angostura bitters, cherry brandy, lemon juice, gin (perhaps not so much the gin!). After I had finished I was very glad I had bought it because I very much enjoyed it. Yummy!


  1. SO when r we going to sample Sukhothai version. I guess it will not be as good as yours :-), yum yum

  2. Love this post! So you went to South east Asia!

    The fried banana you mentioned is one of our favourites - there is a stall right outside our house selling them. In malay they are called "pisang goreng".

    Roti canai has been a long time favourite of mine, as with almost every foreign visitor!

    I too was amazed with the rambutans when I first set eyes on them, but they are gorgeous. I love it when bits of the fruit get stuck between my front teeth :)

    Good to see you've sampled these local delights!

    Duncan In Kuantan


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