5@5 -  Southeast Asian dishes you need to know
August 31st, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Whether you've feasted your way through the markets of Kuala Lumpur, slurped down a hot bowl of pho in Hanoi or merely been meaning to try the Thai place down the road, Dale Talde wants you and his favorite flavors from Southeast Asia to become better acquainted.

Talde is the executive chef of the soon-to-open TALDE, former chef at Buddakan and contestant on "Top Chef: Chicago" and "Top Chef All-Stars."

Five Southeast Asian Dishes You Have to Know: Dale Talde

1. Malaysian laksa
"Noodle soup in any form is where my heart is. Laksa can take two main forms: assam aksa, a sweet-and-sour, brothy noodle soup or curry laksa, a thicker, creamier curry version.

Both are derived from the Peranakan culture (a merger of Chinese and Malay) and found in a few Southeast Asian countries, but in the Malay version the broth is rich and is referred to as 'gravy.' Gravy in any language is always good."

2. Roti canai
"This is the king of flat bread. Roti is made of flour, water, eggs, and ghee (caramelized clarified butter) that is masterfully kneaded, folded, oiled, flattened and tossed before it’s cooked on a skillet. Watching them make this on the streets of Penang, Malaysia, when visiting in July was dope - eating was ever better. I liked mine with egg and onion, though it would have been better with bacon, egg and cheddar."

3. Bánh xèo (Vietnamese coconut crêpes)
"These crepes are to me the perfect example of why food from Southeast Asia is so flawless: crispy, soft, savory, sweet, sour, bitter, salty.

Bánh xèo is made from crêpe batter crisped thin to perfection; filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and chilies; wrapped with cool lettuce and herbs; and dipped in the Vietnamese mother sauce nuoc cham which is made from fish sauce, chilies, garlic, sugar and lime juice. You can find them at any street vendor in Vietnam, and each region has its own twist."

4. Larb
"Technically larb is a salad. It is minced pork, beef or chicken that is spiked with chilies, galangal, shallot and fish sauce, then served with a ton of herbs and fresh greens. Simply put, any salad that starts with fatty cuts of meat and chilies cannot be bad."

5. Halo-halo
"This is my favorite Southeast Asian dessert that is essentially shaved ice. Halo-halo is the Filipino name of it and there are variations in a handful of Southeast Asia countries (Air Batu Campur or ABC in Malaysia, for example).

Instead of blueberry-flavored high fructose corn syrup (commonly served at roadside snow cone carts in the U.S.), Filipinos use fresh fruit like mangoes, jack fruit, lychee, avocado and young coconut, then tie the whole thing together with sweetened condensed milk and top it off with puffed rice."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Asian • Bite • Cuisines • Think

soundoff (12 Responses)
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    November 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  2. SekemetKali

    My favorite is curry split peas and basmati rice lunch devil.

    September 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  3. coliee1289

    Don't discriminate against the Indonesian cuisine – I grew up on chicken and bali satay, soto madura and babi ketjap. You want some delicious southeast Asian food, Indonesian is the way to go.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  4. jitterbugella

    SE Asia cuisine is so much more than just these 5 dishes. What about Singaporean dishes? This article, while informative to a novice reader (when it comes to SE Asian Cuisine), is a little too myopic IMO.


    September 1, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Taken in context....

      "5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe."

      September 1, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  5. Robert

    this guy was a spoiled brat on top chef, always throwing tantrums. when they had him back for top chef masters he threw another fit that was absolutely embarrassing! Cant imagine I would eat in such an immature chefs restaurant. Further proof that these reality TV shows only continue to grow the swollen egos of these desperate wanna bes. These new TV chefs are less concerned about there food and far more concerned with their "stardom" and associated merchandising appeal

    August 31, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Humphrey

      Never saw the shows so I really wouldn't know. Tell me, what the hell is wrong with making a little coin? Interesting use of the work "there" and "their," by the way.

      September 1, 2011 at 8:14 am |
      • Humphrey


        September 1, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  6. Truth

    He left out Cha Gio, and my all time favorite, Bo Luc Lac, which is literally translated as "Shaken Beef", so named because it is cooked in a wok and shaken so as to blend in the spices that it is cooked with. Right up there with crystal meth for pure addictive quality...

    August 31, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
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