Our 40 Best Southeast Asian Recipes to Spice Up Your Life

Recipes from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Beyond

Southeast Asia is a vast tropical region comprising the nations of Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and many more. Surrounded by the sea and covered in dense jungles, the area is home to some of the world's boldest, funkiest ingredients and spices such as lemongrass, kaffir limes, and Thai chili, which are found across Thai cooking, Filipino cooking, Vietnamese cooking, Malaysian cooking, and Indonesian cooking.

On the sweet side, pandan is used to lend a sweet perfume many traditional Southeast Asian desserts, much like vanilla, while fish sauce is splashed into seemingly every other savory dish for a big boost of umami. From pad Thai to pho, here are our 40 best Southeast Asian recipes to turn up the heat in your kitchen.

Chicken and Green Mango Salad

Chicken and Green Mango Salad
This Cambodian chicken salad is bolstered by crisp green mango, roasted peanuts, and fresh herbs with a signature Southeast Asian sweet–sour–savory dressing. Get the recipe for Chicken and Green Mango Salad »Christopher Wise

Danny Bowien's Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho

Danny Bowien's Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho
After bringing it to a boil, Bowien simmers simple chicken broth for just a short period, believing that the flavor goes flat if cooked for too long. Get the recipe for Danny Bowien's Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho »Joseph De Leo
Springy Pad Thai with Green Garlic, Asparagus, and Peas

Springy Pad Thai with Green Garlic, Asparagus, and Peas

Green garlic, asparagus, and peas brighten this classic Thai street dish with springtime flavors. Out of season, you can substitute scallions for the green garlic. Get the recipe for Springy Pad Thai with Green Garlic, Asparagus, and Peas »Matt Taylor-Gross

Spicy Thai-Style Zucchini Carrot Salad

Spicy Thai-Style Zucchini Carrot Salad
Matchstick ribbons of zucchini and carrot mingle with grassy, fresh herbs, and roasted peanuts in this salad inspired by the flavors of Thailand. A pungent, savory, tart dressing brings the dish together. Get the recipe for Spicy Thai-Style Zucchini Carrot Salad »Matt Taylor-Gross

Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Carrot Achaar (Malaysian-Style Pickle)

Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Carrot Achaar (Malaysian-Style Pickle)
This Malaysian-style mixed vegetable pickle is made with a rempah, or spice paste, stirred into the brine for an extra boost of flavor and texture. Get the recipe for Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Carrot Achaar (Malaysian-Style Pickle) »Khushbu Shah

Cashew Stir-Fry

Cashew Chicken Stirfry
This spicy, easy stir-fry is all about the sticky, slightly sweet sauce that coats the chicken and cashews. But, like all good stirfries, this can be catered to your taste—add in whatever mix-ins you have in your fridge or pantry. Get the recipe for Cashew Stir-Fry »Farideh Sadeghin

Sardine and Lemongrass Salad

Sardine and Lemongrass Salad
Combining sardines with Thai spices moves the flavor away from purely fishy in this sweet and spicy salad. Get the recipe for Sardine and Lemongrass Salad »Farideh Sadeghin

Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake

khanom chan
Think of these silky, chewy, coconutty gummies as richer, more flavorful Jello jigglers, made with a steamed batter of coconut milk with sticky rice flour and tapioca and arrowroot starches. It's a labor of love: to form the neat layers, you have to let the previous layer steam enough until set but still a little tacky before adding the next. The cake also benefits enormously from making your own pandan extract; though you can buy pre-made extract in Thai groceries, it won't compare to the unique sweet herbal fragrance of the fresh leaves. Get the recipe for Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake »Matt Taylor-Gross

Thai Fish Burger

Thai Fish Burger
"Combining a mild fish like cod with store-bought curry paste, cilantro, and kaffir lime makes for an incredibly flavorful patty, and serving it with a simple topping of thinly sliced cucumbers, red onion, and cilantro tossed with nuoc cham (a classic Vietnamese dipping sauce made from garlic, chile, sugar, fish sauce, and lime) is my ideal summer meal." —Farideh Sadeghin, test kitchen director Get the recipe for Thai Fish Burger »Farideh Sadeghin

Thai Sweet Chile Sauce

Thai Sweet Chile Sauce
An easy Thai chile sauce. Use it as a dipping sauce for wings or as a dressing in this sardine and lemongrass salad. Get the recipe for Thai Sweet Chile Sauce »Farideh Sadeghin

Sautéed Squash and Shrimp with Coconut Milk and Chiles

Sautéed Squash Shrimp Coconut
Similar to an unripe mango or green papaya, julienned squash has a slightly "green" flavor that pairs well with the classic Thai flavors in this quick, brothy dish. Get the recipe for Sautéed Squash and Shrimp with Coconut Milk and Chiles »Matt Taylor-Gross

Charred Cabbage Slaw

Cabbage Slaw
In this offbeat slaw, raw red cabbage adds a textural contrast to the grilled green cabbage, and a zippy, spicy-sweet-salty dressing goes well with the charred bits. Get the recipe for Charred Cabbage Slaw »Drew Anthony Smith

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)
At Seattle's Little Uncle, chefs Poncharee Kounpungchart and Wiley Frank dehydrate Oregon bay shrimp and crush them into a green papaya salad, where the crustaceans amp up the umami flavor. Get the recipe for Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum) »Ingalls Photography

Thai Charred Squid (Pla Muek Yang)

Thai Charred Squid (Pla Muek Yang)
This grilled squid dish, covered in a tangy sauce and topped with peanuts and cilantro, is a Thai roadside treat. Get the recipe for Thai Charred Squid (Pla Muek Yang) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Green Curry with Fish and Eggplant (Kaeng Khiaw Waan)

Green Curry with Fish and Eggplant (Kaeng Khiaw Waan)
Thai-style dumplings add a nice, bouncy texture to this green curry. Get the recipe for Green Curry with Fish and Eggplant (Kaeng Khiaw Waan) »Joseph De Leo

Summer Rambutan Curry

Summer Rambutan Curry
After stumbling upon fresh rambutans, test kitchen assistant Jake Cohen used this Malaysian tropical fruit to make this spicy and sweet summer curry. Get the recipe for Summer Rambutan Curry »Matt Taylor-Gross

Ikan Balado (Padang-Style Grilled Mackerel with Sambal)

Ikan Balado
In Padang, restaurants grill and fry small whole mackerel before smearing them with sambal, a spicy chile-based condiment. We find that the skin-on fillets of larger fish work just as well. This recipe first appeared in our March 2014 issue with the story Spice World. Get the recipe for Ikan Balado (Padang-Style Grilled Mackerel with Sambal) »Ingalls Photography

Padang-Style Mashed Potato Fritters (Perkedel Kenteng)

Padang-Style Mashed Potato Fritters (Perkedel Kenteng)
To make these crisp-crusted fritters, mashed potatoes blended with pan-fried shallots and freshly grated nutmeg are dipped in beaten egg and fried. Get the recipe for Padang-Style Mashed Potato Fritters (Perkedel Kenteng) »Ingalls Photography

Vietnamese-Style Pork Collar

Houston, Chris Shepherd, Grilling, Vietnamese Style Pork Collar
Pork collar is a great cut for a long marinade and a quick cook time—it gets nice and crispy on the outside and stays juicy inside, thanks to its marbled fat. Get the recipe for Vietnamese-Style Pork Collar »Drew Anthony Smith

Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls

Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls
Juicy mango, buttery avocado, and lightly charred sweet shrimp get packed into rice paper along with crispy cabbage and cucumber for a summer appetizer that hits all the right textural notes. Prep the spicy, tart dipping sauce ahead to give the flavors time to meld. Get the recipe for Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls »Matt Taylor-Gross

Sour Curry Soup with Shrimp

Sour Curry Soup with Shrimp
Light, tangy, and cooked with a modest amount of heat and any available seafood and fresh vegetables, kaeng som is an elemental and satisfying dish, and this curry from Pok Pok's Andy Ricker is an easy recipe to master. Learn to make the shrimp-enriched broth, which leads with tart, pungent flavors but also delivers measured amounts of sweetness, salt, and spice, and you'll begin to understand the balance in Thai cooking. Get the recipe for Sour Curry Soup with Shrimp »Joseph De Leo

Curried Beef Stew with Fried Shallots and Peanuts

Curried Beef Stew with Fried Shallots and Peanuts
This simple beef curry gets its wallop of flavor from kroeung, a catchall word encompassing a large variety of Cambodian herb and spice pastes. Get the recipe for Curried Beef Stew with Fried Shallots and Peanuts »Christopher Wise

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers
Named for a park in Central Valley, California—a popular meeting place for the large Cambodian community there—these kebabs are slathered in an aromatic and pungent paste of lemongrass, kaffir lime, and fish sauce before meeting the heat of a charcoal grill. Get the recipe for Angel Cruz Beef Skewers »Matt Taylor-Gross

Grilled Lamb Chops with Ginger Sauce

Grilled Lamb Chops with Ginger Sauce
A fragrant mix of oyster sauce, cilantro, and ginger pulls double duty here as both a marinade and dipping sauce for lamb rib chops. Get the recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops with Ginger Sauce »Christopher Wise

Malaysian Pan-Seared Snapper with Garlic and Chiles (Chuan-Chuan)

Malaysian Pan-Seared Snapper with Garlic and Chiles (Chuan-Chuan)
A blend of garlic, ginger, and chiles adorns this simple pan-fried fish adapted from a recipe in James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor (W. W. Norton & Company, 2006). Get the recipe for Malaysian Pan-Seared Snapper with Garlic and Chiles (Chuan-Chuan) »Romulo Yanes

Rice Porridge with Chicken and Ginger (Arroz Caldo)

Arroz Caldo
The dish may be from China and have a Spanish name, but to Filipinos, few things taste more like home than arroz caldo. Based on Chinese congee, this rice porridge relies on an easy, flavorful stock that is melded with rice until creamy and rich. Get the recipe for Rice Porridge with Chicken and Ginger (Arroz Caldo) »William Hereford

Pepsi Rice

Pepsi rice
A perfect example of the intersection of fast food with home cooking, Pepsi rice was chef Dale Talde's grandmother's contribution to the Filipino culinary canon. Basically, dump cola on some rice. Don't knock it till you try it, but don't let it become a habit. Get the recipe for Pepsi Rice »William Hereford

Adobo with Chicken Livers

Chicken Adobo
Adobo, perhaps the most well-known Filipino dish, is a brothy stew flavored with vinegar and soy sauce, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. The regional Ilonggo version that chef Dale Talde makes is soy-free and an aesthetic departure. Bone-in chicken simmers until the liquid has all but disappeared, transforming the mellow sauce into a thrilling concentrated glaze. In the slick of fat left over, garlic, onion, and chicken liver brown to provide even more flavor. Get the recipe for Adobo with Chicken Livers »William Hereford

Filipino Roast Pork Belly with "Lechon" Sauce

Lechon Roast Pork Belly
Slow-roasted belly stands in for the classic whole suckling pig that graces virtually every special occasion in the Philippines. Chef Dale Talde also swaps out the sauce's pungent pork liver for more mellow and easier to source chicken livers. Don't worry, though. It still tastes, as Talde lovingly puts it, like "liverwurst mixed with sweet and sour sauce." Get the recipe for Filipino Roast Pork Belly with "Lechon" Sauce »William Hereford

Filipino Barbecue Chicken Skewers

Philippine Barbecue Chicken Skewers
"This was one of my favorites as a kid. The flavor is sweet, salty, and tangy, but it all balances out. Plus it's meat on a stick, and what kid—or adult—doesn't love that?" –Lean Cohen of Pig & Khao. Get the reciep for Filipino Barbecue Chicken Skewers »Matt Taylor-Gross

Philippine Vinegar-Braised Greens (Kangkong Adobo)

Philippine Vinegar-Braised Greens (Kangkong Adobo)
"Filipinos love anything with adobo sauce, and kangkong is one of my favorite vegetables to eat." – Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao Get the recipe for Philippine Vinegar-Braised Greens (Kangkong Adobo)Matt Taylor-Gross

Adobo Chicken Wings

Tito's Filipino-Style Chicken Wings
These are chicken wings, Filipino-style, marinated in rice vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and garlic. Serve them with a creamy ginger-enriched dipping sauce and chile-dusted apple slices for a full bar snack. Get the recipe for Adobo Chicken Wings »Matt Taylor-Gross

Pork Noodle Soup with Shrimp Paste (La Paz Batchoy)

La Paz Batchoy
A regional soup packed with egg noodles and pig parts, La Paz batchoy was born in the La Paz district of Iloilo city, in the province where chef Dale Talde's mother was born. Talde's version streamlines the traditional recipe, keeps the liver and intestines optional, and applies just enough shrimp paste to keep things funky. Get the recipe for Pork Noodle Soup with Shrimp Paste (La Paz Batchoy) »William Hereford

Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (Lumpia)

Lumpia
Best known in their deep-fried iteration, lumpia often crackle beneath the teeth. But not always; some come wrapped in fresh egg crepes, while others are wrapper-less. Connoisseurs pine for a version made with shrimp, pork, and shredded coconut palm. The freshly fried version is a marvel, the wrapper crisp, the filling's texture delicate and yielding. Instead of the common sweet-sour dipping sauce, chef Dale Talde opts for the condiment he used growing up—a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce spiked with raw garlic and fiery chiles—which he likens to the salt and pepper of Filipino food. Get the recipe for Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (Lumpia) »William Hereford

Philippine Paella

Philippine Paella
Part Spanish, part Filipino, made with rich coconut milk and hard-cooked eggs for garnish. Get the recipe for Philippine Paella »Matt Taylor-Gross

Crispy Philippine Slow-Roasted Pork Belly (Bellychon)

Crispy Philippine Slow-Roasted Pork Belly (Bellychon)
"This is my modern take on the traditional Lechon, which is a whole roasted pig. While many of us don't have the space or equipment to roast a whole pig on a spit over coals, this recipe gives you the ability to recreate the idea and flavors." – Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao Get the recipe for Crispy Philippine Slow-Roasted Pork Belly (Bellychon) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Philippine Noodle Stir-Fry (Pancit Bihon)

Philippine Noodle Stir-Fry (Pancit Bihon)
"Eating this dish makes me feel like I'm at home. It's my mom's specialty, and I remember helping her prep this as a child. It is served at every party [my family throws] and is eaten on its own for merianda, the Filipino equivalent of British Tea." – Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao Get the recipe for Philippine Noodle Stir-Fry (Pancit Bihon) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Sesame-Topped Semolina Cake with Coconut (Shwekyi Senyinmakin)

Sesame-Topped Semolina Cake with Coconut (Shwekyi Senyinmakin)
This sticky-sweet cake, made with semolina flour and coconut milk, is commonly served at holidays and special occasions in Myanmar. Get the recipe for Sesame-Topped Semolina Cake with Coconut (Shwekyi Senyinmakin) »Laura Sant

Grilled Chicken and Toasted Coconut Salad (Ayam Jeruk)

Grilled Chicken and Toasted Coconut Salad (Ayam Jeruk)
For this vibrantly spiced Balinese dish, finely shredded grilled chicken is tossed in an aromatic sambal with lime juice and toasted coconut. Get the recipe for Grilled Chicken and Toasted Coconut Salad (Ayam Jeruk) »Ingalls Photography

Lao Tomato Dip

Lao Tomato Dip
Penn Hongthong, the author of Simple Laotian Cooking (Hippocrene, 2003), taught us that charring the vegetables for this dip is the secret to its smoky flavor. Get the recipe for Lao Tomato Dip »Farideh Sadeghin