15 Traditional Food In Asia

traditional food in asia
| 4 min read

Welcome to Asia, the world’s biggest continent! Asia serves the most diverse and delicious foods on Mother Earth. The best Asian cuisine that you’ll ever taste is the combination of spices, culture, landscape, and vegetation - all present to the unique taste in every plate and in every bowl. Asia will never run out of style in satisfying your hungry tummies from gourmet to street food to Asian-fusion, whatever continent you are from, for sure Asian cuisine is on your list. But you know what they say, nothing beats the original. Learn more and taste traditional food in Asia!

1. Adobo

Chicken Adobo
Source: Photo by Flickr user Arnold Gatilao used under CC BY 2.0

One of the most popular food in Asia, adobo is a well-known and popular Filipino dish to the point that its very name is connected to the country and its people. This cuisine in Asia is cooked by marinating either seafood, meat, or vegetables in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns.

Although similar to its Spanish variant, Philippine adobo has an entirely different cooking process and uses ingredients native to Southeast Asia. This dish is a living legacy of how pre-colonial Filipinos used to cook food with vinegar and salt to preserve them.

2. Tom Yam

Tom Yam Seafood @ KhunThai Restaurant
Source: Photo by Flickr user m4sh.3d used under CC BY-SA 2.0

An example of traditional Asian food from Thailand, Tom Yam is a type of hot and sour Thai soup that usually has shrimp in it. Its name describes this dish very well as “tom” refers to the dish’s boiling process and “yam” means “mixed”.

This soup is famous for its hot and sour flavors accompanied by fragrant herbs and spices. Commonly, this dish is made using lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed red chili peppers.

3. Nasi Goreng

My Nasi Goreng
Source: Photo by Flickr user Dennis Sylvester ... used under CC0

Considered as Indonesia’s national dish, Nasi Goreng is a fried rice dish that is cooked with a wonderful mix of meat and vegetables. What sets Nasi Goreng apart from regular fried rice dishes is its distinct smoky aroma, caramelized flavors, and savory taste.

Another thing that makes this food speciality cuisine in Asia even more special is that there is no single defined recipe on how to prepare it and there are many variations that have been made and these variations even depend from household to household.

4. Khorkhog

Lecker Khorkhog
Source: Photo by Flickr user ilf_2019 used under CC0

Khorkhog is a Mongolian barbeque dish that is made by placing cut pieces of meat, usually goat or lamb meat, inside a container that has hot stones and water inside. This container is then heated from the outside and the hot stones inside will help thoroughly cook the meat.

This dish is usually cooked for special occasions but modern interpretations have since substituted goat meat for everyday consumption while lamb meat is used for special occasions. Because of this, khorkhog is not usually served in restaurants and is mostly cooked at home.

5. Sarma

Etli yaprak sarma
Source: Photo by Flickr user Elimali used under CC BY 2.0

Originating from the old Ottoman Empire, sarma is a stuffed dish that has survived into the modern-day decades after the disillusion of the empire it originated from. Commonly marketed as stuffed cabbage leaves, this Middle Eastern and Western Asian cuisine is composed of the fermented leaves of either cabbage, patience dock, collard, grapevine, kale, or chard leaves. The roll is then filled with grains, minced meat, or both.

This famous food in Asia has many variants around Southeastern Europe and the Middle East. The Turkish variant uses dried fava beans and coarsely ground wheat seasoned in tomato sauce as the filing. The wrap is then layered over bone-in lamb chops and slowly simmered.

6. Xiaolongbao

Xiao Long Bao at Nanxiang Mantou Dian 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Eason Lai from used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Xiaolongbao, known as “little basket bun” came from Jiangnan region in Shanghai and Wuxi. It is a type of exquisite Chinese steamed dumpling filled with pork and soup. Making this kind of cuisine takes a lot of patience as the process of cooking is not as easy as you think, especially for newbies. Its ingredients are not so hard to find from ground pork to shrimps to special herbs and spices. It is very palatable and juicy - greatly loved by everyone.

7. Jawain butter parantha

Aloo Parantha with White Butter
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marshal Kamei used under CC BY-SA 4.0

There’s nothing more beautiful in the morning than having tea and steaming hot Jawain butter parantha for breakfast. The all-time favorite Indian bread is here, this delicious and filling food was originated in Peshawar. The parantha is a flat-bread made with whole-wheat flour, pan fried in ghee (butter) and often filled with vegetables like boiled potatoes or cauliflower. This food is affordable and easy to make, so start making the crispiest and most delicious butter parantha.

8. Nasi lemak

Nasi lemak
Source: Pixabay

Thanks to nasi lemak, you can taste a bowl of simple rice in a different way! Nasi lemak means “rice” and “fat” - refers to the creaminess of the coconut milk, this is also considered as the national and traditional dish of Malaysia. This popular Malay dish consists of coconut milk rice, slices of cucumber, anchovy, roasted groundnuts, and hard-boiled egg - best partnered with fried chicken or chicken rendang. The preparation of this food is quite tedious, so it is recommended to cook the anchovy a day before to shorten the cooking period. The heavenly fragrance of this dish added to the wow factor.

9. Ambuyat

Ambuyat in Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user e_chaya used under CC BY 2.0

Ambuyat had captured the heart not only of Bruneians but also foreigners. This dish became the comfort and convenient food for Bruneians during World War II when the rice was scarce making this an iconic part of traditional cuisine. This humble food is starchy like a carb dish made from sago starch and hot boiling water. It may sound simple to prepare but it is quite tiring especially the stirring and crushing part of sago starch. The ambuyat is taken with a sauce made from binjai - a mango like but very sour local fruit. This dish is best accompanied by side dishes like vegetables, fish, or meat.

10. Candied haws

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Popo le Chien used under CC0

The candied haw or tanghulu is a popular and traditional fruity snack in China. This sweet delicacy is quite similar to candy apples. It is often eaten during winter made from Chinese hawthorn fruits (red and yellow) being coated into the sugar syrup and pierced on bamboo skewers. This snack also reminds of a happy childhood memory.

11. Kimchi

Source: Pixabay

I bet, kimchi is also as popular worldwide as Momoland and BTS. Indeed, This classic and spicy dish came from Korea became one of the favorite side dishes of Asians. This traditional side dish is made from salted and fermented vegetables - the most common are Nappa cabbage and Korean radishes that come with a lot of seasonings like chili powder, scallions, garlic, ginger, and salted seafood. In the past, kimchi was kept underground in jars, thanks to technology, we can now use refrigerators to store kimchi.

12. Ais kacang

Ais kacang
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Andrew Bogott used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Ais kacang or ice kacang means “bean ice” or ABC (an acronym for Air Batu Campur). This sweet Malaysian dessert is also popular in Singapore and Brunei. Traditionally, it was made of only shaved ice and red beans. Today, jelly and sweet syrup were added to give more satisfying taste. Ice kacang is quite flavorful comes in bright colors with a variety of fruit cocktails and dressings. If you’re into cold desserts, then this should be on your list.

13. Sushi

Sushi Deluxe at Sushi Ten
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alpha used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Who on earth did not know and dreamt to taste sushi? This traditional Japanese dish is very popular around the world - agree right? It is prepared with vinegared rice with sugar and salt, mixed with a delicate selection of ingredients, like seafood, vegetables, and tropical fruits. Preparation for sushi is really hard from selecting and cleaning seafood to cutting to presentation - all must be well-thought. It is also best served with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

14. Egg tarts

Macau Eggtart
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tom Liu used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you love sweets and eggs, then go for egg tart! This dish is a kind of custard tart that is famous all over the world, it can be found in many Asian countries, in Portugal and Britain as well. The dish is delicious which consists of an outer pastry crust, filled with egg custard and carefully baked. You can now taste and feel the custard’s flakey and buttery taste.

15. Lao baguettes

Bánh mì thịt nướng
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user View more used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Lao Baguettes is your ultimate snack if you aim for a healthy and delicious sandwich. This yummy sandwich is similar to a Vietnamese banh mi. The Lao baguettes are greatly influenced by French baguette and crisp vegetables. It is easy to make and the ingredients are easy to find. It consists of chicken breast, peppery watercress, tomatoes, and grated fresh carrots - don’t also forget the hefty portion of spicy chile-garlic sauce which adds to the wow factor of this sandwich.

Experience Asia at its finest

Asian cuisine
Source: Pexels

The food reflects of what kind of culture and tradition a particular continent has. It can tell you many stories and has the power to go back in time and travel to the present. Asia presents traditional food that can be loved by everyone. It’s now time to indulge in the finest and unique cuisine that Asia serves!

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I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to go somewhere out of the country to spend with my love ones. I believe I am inherently artistic. :) God is good all the time- my motto in life!

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