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

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 »

Danny Bowien’s Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho

Danny Bowien’s Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho »

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 »

Spicy Thai-Style Zucchini Carrot Salad

Spicy Thai-Style Zucchini Carrot Salad

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) »

Stir-Fried Chicken With Cashew Nuts

Stir-Fried Chicken With Cashew Nuts

Sardine and Lemongrass Salad

Sardine and Lemongrass Salad

Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake (Khanom Chan)

Get the recipe for Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake (Khanom Chan) »

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 the Thai Fish Burger »

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 »

Sautéed Squash and Shrimp with Coconut Milk and Chiles

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 »

Charred Cabbage Slaw

In this offbeat slaw from chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston, 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 »

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

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) »

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) »

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 »

Ikan Balado (Padang-Style Grilled Mackerel with Sambal)

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) »

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) »

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 »

Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls

Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls

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 »

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 »

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers

Grilled Lamb Chops with Ginger Sauce

Grilled Lamb Chops with Ginger Sauce

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) »

Rice Porridge with Chicken and Ginger (Arroz Caldo)

Rice Porridge with Chicken and Ginger (Arroz Caldo)
More Cola Cuisine: Dale Talde’s Mom’s Pepsi Rice

The Philippines

Adobo with Chicken Livers

Filipino Roast Pork Belly with “Lechon” Sauce

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 »

Filipino Barbecue Chicken Skewers

Philippine Barbecue Chicken Skewers

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)

Adobo Chicken Wings

Tito’s Filipino-Style Chicken Wings

Pork Noodle Soup with Shrimp Paste (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) »

Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (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) »

Philippine Paella

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

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) »

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) »

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) »

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) »

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.