Po­etry and sto­ry­telling with a Cam­bo­dian NGO

Some­times perfection comes from sim­plic­ity, and these street foods from around South­east Asia de­liver great taste with few ingredients

Southeast Asia Globe - - Contents -

MALAYSIA, ROTI CANAI Roti is a light and flaky flat­bread that orig­i­nally came from the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent. This com­mon base for many Malaysian dishes can be filled with well-sea­soned onions, eggs, veg­eta­bles, meats or cheese, fried and served with a dal, or curry dip­ping sauce. Re­move all of the fillers, and you’re left with roti canai, a sim­ple yet pop­u­lar dish eaten by pulling apart pieces of roti bread and dip­ping it into the ac­com­pa­ny­ing curry sauce. Its sim­plic­ity al­lows one to ap­pre­ci­ate the sub­tle oil and light­ness of the bread and rich fla­vors of the sauce.

SIN­GA­PORE, CHICKEN AND RICE Hainanese chicken and rice is a Sin­ga­porean street meal and com­fort food. Served wrapped in paper, this dish comes ex­actly as the name de­scribes, with steamed chicken on top of a pile of rice, served with a lit­tle bag of light chili sauce to pour over it. The rice is not a mere ac­com­pa­ni­ment to a well-sea­soned chicken, though. It is also cooked in chicken broth with onions and other sea­son­ings, pro­vid­ing big flavour to a dish with es­sen­tially only two com­po­nents.


Banh mi sand­wiches are a com­mon Viet­namese dish that com­bines the tra­di­tional flavours of the coun­try with its French colo­nial heritage. Orig­i­nally made of pâté on a baguette, banh mi’s ingredients to­day run the gamut from pork sausage and cold cuts to shrimp to eggs – or some com­bi­na­tion of the above. Com­mon top­pings in­clude co­rian­der, jalapeño, daikon radish, car­rot, cab­bage, cu­cum­ber and chili. Add some may­on­naise or soy sauce on top, and you have a de­li­cious meal to go.


In the spring­time, man­goes are plen­ti­ful in Thai mar­kets and the de­mand for mango sticky rice is equally high. Fresh slices of sweet, yel­low man­goes are paired with co­conut milk and sticky rice, a gluti­nous form of the grain. Its rich sweet­ness belies the sim­plic­ity and health­ful­ness of this dessert that comes to­gether from only three whole-food ingredients.


All through­out South­east Asia skew­ered, grilled street meats are a com­mon sight, but prob­a­bly the most recog­nis­able is satay. Satay con­sists of small pieces of well-sea­soned meat on a stick – nor­mally chicken, mut­ton, beef or seafood – served with a spicy peanut dip­ping sauce. The small por­tions means you must order satay in mul­ti­ples, and it’s a nat­u­ral shar­ing dish.

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