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Eat Chicken! Welcome the Year of the Chicken with Chicken Dishes from the ASEAN

Eat Chicken! Welcome the Year of the Chicken with Chicken Dishes from the ASEAN

Not only is this the Year of the Chicken, but chicken generally plays an important role in Chinese New Year celebrations, and is also popular with Muslims. Chicken dishes are really delicious, which is why you find them all over the ASEAN. What are you waiting around for? Hurry up, grab a drumstick and follow me!

Once upon a time, folks in the ASEAN countries didn’t eat much chicken and pork. They got their protein mostly from rivers and the sea. Eventually Chinese and Indian influence brought chicken into the mix, unique local flavors popped up, and it came to be a hot item on everyone’s menu.

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Photo: www.foodsweety.com/
COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Studioportret_van_een_verkoper_van_saté_met_zijn_pikolan_en_klanten_TMnr_60027242
Satay seller in Java, 1870
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Chicken satay or Chicken satae in the Netherlands with spicy peanut sauce, French fries and mayonnaise / Photo: By Takeaway – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17231661

– Chicken Satay –

Chicken satay originated on the island of Java in Indonesia, probably developed from Indian kebab satay sold by a street vendor. There are so many types of satay there that it would be a great candidate for Indonesia’s national dish. Chicken satay, or “satae ayam” in Indonesian, is the best known. There is also satay made from goat, pork, shrimp, fish, and really odd sources such as rabbit, turtle, horse, snake and even vegetarian satay, made from tempeh soy. The dipping sauce is usually made from crushed nuts, but you may encounter other types, such as with sambal, a sauce of seasoned Indonesian soybeans. Satay is found throughout the ASEAN countries, and spread all over the world because of the Netherlands’ colonization in the area, so that even in Holland you can get served satay with French fries and hot sauce!


kai_yang
Kai Yang with chili sauce

– Kai Yang on the Som Tam Menu –

Kai yang, or grilled chicken, originated in northeast Thailand, and so does som tam papaya salad, which accounts for why 99 percent of som tam eateries sell the two dishes together. If you want the real deal, though, you have to eat it with the traditional spicy dipping sauce made of dried chilies, lime juice, roasted rice, fish sauce, and sugar. Today kai yang is found in every region of Thailand, each giving its own tasty twist to the recipe. Sometimes you’ll find it under the name “ping kai,” but it’s still the same dish.


Singapore Chicken Rice / Photo: Chatter Box
Singapore Chicken Rice / Photo: Chatter Box

– Chicken Rice: a Singapore Signature Dish –

With the immigration of Hainan Chinese, chicken rice flew across the South China Sea to become a staple on Singapore menus, and now, with slight variations, is wildly popular in Malaysia and Thailand, too. Singapore chicken rice is famous for the fragrance of melt-in-the-mouth tender chicken steeped in the perfect sauce, and Singapore is chock full of great chicken rice restaurants, some with their own franchises in foreign lands.


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Chicken adobo from So ASEAN restaurant in Bangkok, they usually serve chicken and pork adobo in the same dish.

– Adobo: Philippine Braised Chicken –

This traditional dish comes from the indigenous people of  the Philippines, as recorded by missionaries from when the country was part of the Spanish Empire. Adobo can be made with either chicken or pork which is first marinated in a vinegar mixture for at least overnight. When the meat is done it is brown from the marinade sauce. The dish keeps well and can be stored for a long time because the vinegar inhibits bacterial growth.


ayam_malay

– Ayam Kampung: Chicken for Lunch –

Fried chicken is very popular in Malaysia. Besides simple fried chicken with rice, vegetables, and curry, fried chicken eaten by the piece is great as a side dish for a lot of other dishes, such as Nasi Kerabu, or, fried to a nice outer crispiness, it can be a special addition to Nasi Lemak. And because of the wide diversity of ethnic groups, Malaysian chicken recipes are by extension popular with Chinese, Malays, and Indians alike.

Vibrant and Diverse Chinatowns of Southeast Asia

Vibrant and Diverse Chinatowns of Southeast Asia

The Chinatowns of Southeast Asia boast a rich history and unique charm that are sure to captivate your imagination. Check this out.

/// ASEAN ///

Binondo / Manila’s Chinatown

The ethnic Chinese community at Binondo, a district of Manila, is considered the oldest Chinatown in the world. Founded in 1594 by the Spaniards as a permanent settlement for Chinese who converted to Catholicism, Binondo had been the hub of Chinese commerce and trade even before the Spanish Colonial period. Binondo Church, the district’s landmark, was built in 1596 by the Dominicans to serve their Chinese converts to the Christian faith. Binondo became the center for commerce in Manila during the American occupation. Part of it was destroyed during World War II, which resulted in many companies moving to Makati, a new business district.

Binondo
Photo: Doods Dumaguing (https://flic.kr/p/dTm8pM)
Binondo Church
Binondo Church. /// Photo: josh james (https://flic.kr/p/9jTuG4)
Binondo Church
Inside the historical church. /// Photo: Shubert Ciencia (https://flic.kr/p/6eZezv)

 

Chinatown / Singapore

You just can’t miss Singapore’s Chinatown because it is located on a major Mass Rapid Transit line. The Chinatown MRT Station is in Chinatown, where bustling streets are lined with low-rise, colonial style architecture in vibrant pastel colors.

The district is frequented by Buddhists, who come to pay homage at the sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The holy relic is on display inside the stunning four-story shrine. The house of worship is built based on architecture common during the Tang Dynasty, the most glistening period in China’s history from 618 to 709 AD.

Southbridge
Photo: Nicolas Lannuzel (https://flic.kr/p/oU8UMk)
Chinatown Station
Photo: Khalzuri Yazid (https://flic.kr/p/7bBfJM)
Chinatown
Photo: Brent 2.0 (https://flic.kr/p/dTEemW)
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. /// Photo: LWYang (https://flic.kr/p/kKSgGL)

 

Glodok / Jakarta’s Chinatown

There are numerous ethnic Chinese communities throughout Indonesia, the biggest of which is located in Glodok, a western district of Jakarta. There is more to Glodok than a big electronics market selling gizmos and gadgets. The streets of Jakarta’s Chinatown are vibrant with Chinese shops, authentic cuisine, and Chinese temples.

No far from Glodok stands another thriving Chinatown called Mangga Dua. Put the two ethnic Chinese neighborhoods together, and you get one of the biggest shopping districts in Southeast Asia.

Glodok
Lindeteves Trade Centre, the landmark of Glodok. /// Photo: Everyone Sinks Starco (https://flic.kr/p/LZ1syR)
Glodok
Chinese New Year celebrations in Glodok. /// Photo: basibanget (https://flic.kr/p/7GvMG4)
Mangga Dua
Chinatown gateway at Mangga Dua. /// Photo: Jakob Montrasio (https://flic.kr/p/7RraE9)

 

Petaling Street / Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown

In the early years of Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Street was part of a pioneer town that attracted many Chinese immigrants to the tin trade. One of them was a Chinese “kapitan” or headman named Yap Ah Loy, who later played an important role in developing the city.

Nowadays Petaling Street is bustling with rows of retail shops and restaurants, including the iconic Kim Lian Kee restaurant. It is dubbed the birthplace of “Hokkien mee,” which is a stir-fry noodle dish in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine.

Petaling Street
Photo: Conny Sandland (https://flic.kr/p/6UxpRp)

Petaling Street

Petaling Street
A boutique hotel on Petaling Street.
Hokkien mee
The famous “Hokkien mee,” a stir-fry noodle dish at Kim Lian Kee. /// Photo: Alpha (https://flic.kr/p/6d36zC)

 

Yaowarat / Bangkok’s Chinatown

Populated by the largest number of overseas Chinese, Bangkok’s Yaowarat neighborhood is no doubt one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world. Ethinic Chinese, especially speakers of Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, and Hainanese concentrated at Yaowarat. Together they turned the district along the Chao Phraya River into a thriving CBD and cultural melting pot. Today’s Yaowarat is vibrant with commerce and finance, and a great variety of authentic Chinese cuisine.

Dubbed the “Golden Street”, Yaowarat is home to numerous gold shops dealing in wholesale and retail business. The famous 5,500-kilogram golden Buddha statue is located here at Wat Traimit, a temple near Yaowarat Road.

Yaowarat

Yaowarat

Yaowarat

Wat Traimit
The world’s biggest golden Buddha statue at Bangkok’s Chinatown.

 

And that’s not all. There are other Chinatowns in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Brunei, too. Since time immemorial, Southeast Asia has become one of favorite destinations among Chinese migrants looking for a new life abroad. Finding strength in number, they created new homes and countless business opportunities in foreign lands. In the process they added cultural diversity and brought economic growth to the Southeast Asian region.

Chinatown in Vientiane, Laos.
Chinatown in Vientiane, Laos. /// Photo: Prince Roy (https://flic.kr/p/7Bg1sh)
A Chinese temple in Yangon’s Chinatown, Myanmar.
A Chinese temple in Yangon’s Chinatown, Myanmar. /// Photo: William (https://flic.kr/p/jziMXQ)

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on Chinatowns in your country on our Facebook page.

 

 

Which is the real Pad Thai?

Which is the real Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is one of Thailand’s best-known dishes. What’s not so well known is that some noodles sold to tourists under that name isn’t Pad Thai at all, and this is especially true with what you’re liable to find sold from cart vendors around Khao San Road. Let’s take a look at what Pad Thai is really all about.

/// Thailand ///

Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// English Version: Peter Montalbano /// Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Supawan Sa-ard

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Pad Thai at a famous restaurant it the Pratu Phi district. Here, it’s said, the prime minister who invented the dish came to eat and gave the taste a big “thumbs up.”

In fact 99% of the restaurants in Thailand sell authentic Pad Thai with only slightly varying recipes, and all with the same ingredients. The basic recipe calls for kuai tiao rice noodles stir-fried with tofu, chopped garlic chive, chopped sweet radish, dried shrimp, bean sprout, flavored with mandarin juice, sugar, and roasted peanuts, and eaten with fresh vegetables like garlic chive, raw bean sprout, and banana blossom. Another very popular variation includes the addition of big shrimp into the stir-fry mix. Pad Thai sold from Khao San tourist area carts, though, has quite a different taste. If you gave some of that to a Thai, that person might say, “this is actually pad si iw (soya-flavored stir-fry) with skinny noodles, more like.”

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Cart selling Pad Thai along Khao San Road. Look, the cook is a foreigner!
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Some cart vendors offer a variety of noodle types to chose from.

Of course, if you aren’t yourself too familiar with Pad Thai you probably won’t suffer much, because whatever noodle dish it is probably won’t taste too horrible, but if you’re looking for the real thing, this is not Pad Thai. Starting off with the flavor, they use dark soy sauce instead of the delicate tamarind juice with its hidden sour and sweet flavor. They follow up by putting cabbage, khana (Chinese kale), and carrots instead of those pungently fragrant garlic chive leaves. Done that way, Pad Thai becomes a completely different kind of stir-fried noodles.

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Fresh shrimp Pad Thai adds large shrimp, and the tamarind sauce/shrimp oil combination gives the noodles a more reddish tint.
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False Pad Thai. This has a very salty and oily taste, and also uses the wrong vegetables.

So, then, what is that real Pad Thai all about? In the early days of the Thai republic, around World War II, Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram was Prime Minister, and he wanted to create a Thai dish which would express Thai national identity. The following video clip, produced by the Thai Tourism Authority, does a good job explaining the origin and composition of Pad Thai:

 

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_cuisine

7 Traditional Rice Desserts to Give a Try

7 Traditional Rice Desserts to Give a Try

Rice is an indispensable component of ASEAN dishes, since it’s an important part of our everyday meals. In fact in Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam, instead of saying “Let’s have dinner,” we say “Let’s eat rice.”

Information resources: TK Park/Wikipedia

Rather than going on about typical main dishes such as fried rice or Nasi Goreng, we’d like to introduce you to seven local favorite rice-based desserts guaranteed to flatter anyone’s sweet tooth.

 

– KETUPAT –

ketupat01
Photo credit: Sham Hardy https://flic.kr/p/6ZArj1
ketupat02
Photo credit: Sham Hardy https://flic.kr/p/6ZwJfX

 

This local Muslim dish is made from boiled sticky rice mixed with coconut milk. It is usually wrapped in woven coconut leaf or nipa palm, and served during Hari Raya,the period of celebration following Ramadan.

 

– KRALAN / KHAO LAM –

kaolam

This is found throughout ASEAN countries, but under different names:khao lam (Thai), leman (Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei), kralan (Cambodia), or kermlam (Vietnam).

It’s a sweet dessert made of sticky rice, red beans, sugar, grated coconut, and coconut milk mixed together, packed into bamboo sections, and roasted. For those who prefer a thicker texture and moderate sweetness, look for the ones with loads of coconut milk on top.

 

– BIBINGKA –

bibingka
Photo credit: George Parrilla https://flic.kr/p/5C42sE
Photo credit: Yvette Tan https://flic.kr/p/ejrzNG
Photo credit: Yvette Tan https://flic.kr/p/ejrzNG

This soft and spongy Filipino cake is available only during the Christmas season. Rice flour and baking powder are seasoned with a pinch of salt and sugar, then poured with a mixture of coconut milk, eggs, and butter into a clay pot for a fine bake.

Varieties of bibingka in the Philippines are endless. There are bibingka galapong (from rice flour and tamod), bibingkang malagkit (from glutinous rice flour, served in square blocks), bibingkang kamoteng kahoy (from cassava flour), and many more.

 

– SUMAN –

Photo credit: dbgg1979 https://flic.kr/p/6cfXPU
Photo credit: dbgg1979 https://flic.kr/p/6cfXPU

This original Filipino sticky rice cake is usually wrapped in buri palm leaves and steamed. Some prefer to sprinkle sugar on the top, while some pour latik (coconut curds from simmered coconut milk) on as a sauce.

 

– DADAR GULUNG –

Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Kue_dadar_gulung.JPG
Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Kue_dadar_gulung.JPG

This pastel-colored sweet is also known as an Indonesian coconut pancake. Dadar means “omelet,” and gulung means “to roll,” as the finished pandan rice flour mix “omelet” is rolled around a grated coconut and palm sugar filling. Dadar gulung is commonly found mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia.

– MANGO WITH STICKY RICE –

mangoricetouse

This one of the most renowned Thai desserts.Afresh ripe “naam dokmai” or “okrong”variety of mango is paired with sticky rice and served with coconut milk. During the ripe mango season, which usually peaks in April and May, variations on this dish – for example mango & sticky rice ice cream and mango & sticky rice cake – can also be found.

– SERI MUKA –

Photo credit: Reedz Malik https://flic.kr/p/icqMLy
Photo credit: Reedz Malik https://flic.kr/p/icqMLy

Two layers of altogether different texture give this dish a perfect taste. The bottom layer of steamed glutinous rice is topped with a soft and creamy pandan custard. In 2009 the Malaysian Department of National Heritage proclaimed seri muka to be one of 100 uniquely Malaysian-heritage foods and beverages. Besides Malaysia, the dish is also available in Indonesia and South Kalimantan.

 

10 Delicious Malay Dishes You Must Try

10 Delicious Malay Dishes You Must Try

The Malay kitchen is often overflowing with heavenly scents and beautifully complex flavours, thanks to the vast range of fresh herbs and spices used in most of its dishes. Generally hearty and wholesome, Malay dishes are the ultimate comfort food with a spicy twist. Its beautiful flavours are best showcased by these 10 iconic dishes:

1

Nasi Lemak

This national dish has a special place in every Malaysian’s heart and for good reason: the coconut milk-infused rice is the perfect mix of flavours and textures when paired with its staple sides: spicy sambal, hard-boiled egg, fried anchovies, peanuts, and cucumbers. You’ll see this dish being served at any time of the day, from breakfast all the way until 3 a.m. suppers.

 

2

Mee Rebus

This comforting bowlful of blanched yellow noodles is especially loved for its rich stew-like gravy, made from sweet potatoes, beef stock, and an intricate mix of herbs and spices. Top it all off with some fried tofu, fresh green chillies and a refreshing spritz of lime and you’re good to go!

 

3

Satay

These marinated meats on sticks are roasted over charcoal to get its signature smoky flavour. Having satay is not complete without a side chunky peanut sauce, rice cubes, cucumber, and fresh onions. Most places serve beef and chicken versions, but you could get more exotic meats like venison and rabbit at more dedicated satay stalls.

 

4

Ayam Kampung

The Malay take on fried chicken uses spring chicken that is deep-fried to a crisp and savoured simply with white rice, raw vegetables, and some hearty curry. This simple yet unbelievably satisfying dish is mostly served for lunch.

 

5

Asam Pedas

This highly popular dish in the Southern states of Johor and Melaka is at its best when the spicy-sour balance is just right. The kesum leaves and torch ginger flowers are often used to give the gravy its signature fragrant scent. This dish is almost always cooked with stingray, although sometimes chicken or fatty beef is used instead.

 

6

Nasi Kerabu

The rice gets its trademark blue hue from butterfly-pea flowers and is usually served with ayam percik (grilled chicken topped with spiced coconut gravy). The richness of the dish is beautifully contrasted with fresh, raw ingredients like long beans, cucumbers, and cabbage. Some salted egg adds a little extra flavour to this colourful dish.

 

7

Roti Jala

Watching Roti Jala being made is mesmerising in itself; the turmeric-infused batter is drizzled on a hot griddle until cooked, and the web-like crepe is rolled to form its distinct look. They are best eaten with a side of thick chicken curry. You can have these as desserts too, by pairing them with a creamy durian dip.

 

8

Laksa Johor

Laksa, which generally refers to rice noodles served in a fish-based gravy, has various interpretations according to the different states in Malaysia. The Johoreans are famous for their own take on this classic dish; savour its chunky gravy with flaked mackerel, ladled over spaghetti and topped with shredded cucumber, onions, kesum leaves, sambal, and lime. Although it’s a noodle dish, it’s traditionally eaten by hand.

 

9

Masak Lemak

This instantly-recognisable dish, with its trademark yellow hue, is ever-present at any Malay restaurant. Made from freshly-ground turmeric, this decadent gravy uses bird’s eye chillies to offset the creaminess of the coconut milk. It’s usually served with white rice but one sip of this flavourful dish and you may be tempted to have it on its own.

 

10

Nasi Goreng Kampung

This wok-fried rice dish packs a punch with its distinctive flavour – the rice is cooked with anchovies, shrimp paste and water spinach – and is never complete without a sunny side up! Just like the Nasi Lemak, this crowd favourite is a common choice regardless of the time of the day.

ASEAN Winter, Snow in the Tropics?

ASEAN Winter, Snow in the Tropics?

Hot weather, wet weather, cold weather. The ASEAN Region has it all. Did you know that it snowed in some parts of Southeast Asia, too, and there were times when temperatures plunged to as low as minus 57C? Take a look.

/// ASEAN ///

– MYANMAR –

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Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org

The Hkakabo Razi is the highest mountain in Myanmar. The mountain peak and namesake has had a fair share of coldest days on records when temperatures took a deep dive to a record low 57.9 degrees Celsius. Dubbed the highest peak in Southeast Asia, the Hkakabo Razi is known for its alpine climate, or the average weather for the regions above the tree line. Thick snow blankets much of the highlands of Myanmar during winter months. Spending winter here may not be the most enjoyable activity in the world. If you wish to conquer the top or love watching snow-capped peaks, the Putao Mountain in Kachin State is probably more interesting as a safer destination. The Putao is known for very beautiful hiking trails leading to the twin peaks, called the Phangram Razi, and the Phongyin Razi. They are not as high as the Hkakabo Razi but safer. By the way, extreme cold weather is guaranteed. So come well prepared.

– LAOS –

laos
houphan-namet-phoulouey-cold-january-2016-11

Photo credit: Janina Bikova/WCS Loas/NEPL NPA http://www.namet.org
Photo credit: Janina Bikova/WCS Laos/NEPL NPA http://www.namet.org

For a brief period in January, temperatures in the northern province of Houaphanh can drop to minus 3 degrees Celsius, giving the people of Laos a chance to experience plenty of frost and hail first hand.

Locals get on with their lives dressed for the weather, while visitors are just happy showing up with the latest in winter trends. It’s not uncommon to find “selfies” and video clips from northern Laos showing people in warm clothes and fur jackets on social networks and the Internet.

While many believed it was snow they were seeing, the weather authority said the phenomenon was actually frost caused by sudden exposure to waves of cold weather. Oftentimes the cold waves would linger on for a few days before the weather quickly returned to normal.

– VIETNAM –

Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fansipan-vietnam.jpg
Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fansipan-vietnam.jpg

Every year, the top of the Fansipan Mountain is covered with snow. Like the mountains in Myanmar, hiking tours are available. The excursions usually take a few days to reach the mountaintop. For those opting for the less adventurous way, the recently opened cable car service is ready to help you conquer the summit in no time. Meanwhile, take your time to enjoy bird’s eye views of the picturesque landscape.

– THAILAND –

Photo credit: Ekkarat Punyatara
Photo credit: Ekkarat Punyatara

Every year, people in Bangkok and the vicinity look forward to the arrival of cold winds as a reprieve from punishing heat. What really happens is a far cry from cold European weather. Towards year end, cool breezes can be felt heralding a change of season from rainy to cold. It is not winter in every sense of the word. In an unlikely scenario, temperatures may go below 20 degrees Celsius, and that is good enough a reason for the city dwellers to get excited and get into warm clothes, albeit for a short time.

The Northern Region provides plenty of wholesome destinations to celebrate “winter.” The best time of year comes when atmospheric vapor condenses turning morning dew into frost blanketing much of the landscape, a phenomenon known as “Mae Khaning” or “Moey Khaab.”

These beautiful sights along with seas of dense valley fog make for great photo opportunities and continue to attract city people looking for a touch of the country. Many wish that snow were here one day, although the chances of that actually happening are very remote.

– SINGAPORE –

Photo credit: aotaro https://flic.kr/p/DFFiCj
Photo credit: aotaro https://flic.kr/p/DFFiCj

According to www.yoursingapore.com, despite having no real snow or reindeer to offer, Singapore promises a big and wonderful Christmas celebration.

Every year, Orchard Road transforms into a Christmas wonderland with sparkling lights and flowery archways. Turkey seasoned with Asian herbs and spices are also up for grabs.

Of course, there’s no snow here. But plenty of Christmas and New Year promotions should be more than enough to satisfy every shopper.

– MALAYSIA –

Photo credit: Soon Koon https://flic.kr/p/pxv8bE
Photo credit: Soon Koon https://flic.kr/p/pxv8bE

Originally from China, the Dongzhi Festival is a cultural heritage that has been passed from generation to generation among Malaysians and Singaporeans of Chinese descent.

The festival celebrates winter solstice, which marks the onset of winter (time of the shortest day). In this occasion, family members come together to meet and eat Tangyuan, glutinous rice balls in sweet soup. The food symbolizes family unity and harmony.

In case you are visiting Malaysia this winter, don’t forget to drop by at a Chinese restaurant and treat yourself with the menu.

– THE PHILIPPINES –

Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/Parols_For_Sale.png
Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/Parols_For_Sale.png
Photo credit: Gep Pascual https://flic.kr/p/sW81G
Photo credit: Gep Pascual https://flic.kr/p/sW81G

With the majority of its citizenry being Christians and an obvious influence from the Spanish colonial period, the Philippines bring Christmas celebrations to the whole new level.

The spiritual season begins as early as September and continues to December. The 4-month long celebration is known as the “ber” months (September, October, November and December).

Traditional Filipino parols – star-shaped Christmas lanterns can be seen everywhere. These unique ornaments count as the icon of the festive season. Originally, they were made from bamboos and papers. Nowadays, thanks to seller creativeness, the parol comes in all shapes and sizes.

One little tip to visitors: Christmas in the Philippines wouldn’t be complete without this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4z22oBCCDA, which is played repeatedly everywhere. So, be prepared, and Happy Holiday to you all!

Durian: The Irresistible King of Fruit

Durian: The Irresistible King of Fruit

LivingASEAN proudly presents different durian cultures unique to the ASEAN region. Perhaps it’s something you have never heard of, including five interesting ways of making eating the spiky fruit more fun than you would ever imagine.

Photos: Sitthisak Namkham, Samutcha Viraporn,
IceDEA, Dhara Dhevi Cake Shop, HEMELTZs Chocolat, Inthanin, Beard Papa’s Singapore

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A wall is covered with durian graffiti in Kuala Lumpur.

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The majority of durians are grown in Thailand and Malaysia with other varieties available in Indonesia. Some are also grown in the Philippines, southern Vietnam and other Southeast Asia countries.

Thailand
Out of more than 200 varieties of durians in Thailand, the three most sought-after are Mon Thong, Chanee, and Kan Yao.

Mon Thong (meaning “golden pillow”) comes with a sweet taste and a firm texture. Chanee is smaller in size but less sweet, softer and creamier. And Kan Yao has mild, not-so-sharp sweetness.

 

001

 

The quality that most Thais look for in a durian is its firmness. Durian aficionados can tell a good fruit apart from plain ones simply by knocking on the spiky skin and judging the sounds. Hollow sounds tend to indicate the durian is too soft. In contrary, solid sounds indicate the fruit is a firm one.

Due to their pungent odor, the spiky fruits are not allowed in many places including aboard the BTS Skytrain and the MRT.

 

 

Malaysia
Malaysians prefer their durians to be soft and buttery. In Malaysia, durians are eaten within the day they are ripe, and drop from the trees to the ground. It is said that the best durians are the ones that fall down in the morning.

Malaysia seems to have it all from Musang King durian puree to Musang King durian mochi to durian flavored popsicle sticks.
Malaysia seems to have it all from Musang King durian puree to Musang King durian mochi to durian flavored popsicle sticks.

 

Durian flavored cheesecakes come in the guise of a simple cupcake appearance.
Durian flavored cheesecakes come in the guise of a simple cupcake appearance.

 

There are many products made from durian in different, perhaps quirky, ways that are available in Malaysia. They include durian flavored ice creams, candies, cakes, pastes, freeze-dried durian snacks, and a wide variety of durian parfaits.

 

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Indonesia
The keyword for getting a nice durian experience here is ‘Kampung’. In Malaysia and Indonesia, the word means “village.” So, when you visit a durian stall, make sure to look for the ‘Kampung’ sign. It means that the fruits are products of indigenous durian trees grown in the villages, and not from any genetically modified tree.

 

005

 

Often you will come across durians that are either too ripe or too raw. So, one useful thing to know is not to buy a fruit that had been cut open. It is a normal practice that a “Takung Duren” (durian seller) will always select the fruit, cut it open and pass on an amount of its creamy flesh for you to taste. After that it’s your turn to decide whether to take the fruit or ask for a new one.

Well, choose wisely. We hope you all have a chance to meet your durian soul mate!

 

A little note to durian lovers: In an unfortunate case, you may encounter an unscrupulous vendor trying to sell you a rotten or spoiled durian for high prices. No need to overreact like a buyer did in this hyperlink: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/unhappy-with-quality-of-durians-malaysian-man-stabs-fruit-seller-to-death. Just keep calm and buy from other stall instead.

 

Creative Ways to Eat Durian

 

It looks like a simple slice of durian. But make no mistake; this is actually durian-flavored ice cream. A piece of this innovative, delicious durian ice cream is available at IceDEA (www.facebook.com/iceidea) /// Thailand.
It looks like a simple slice of durian. But make no mistake; this is actually durian-flavored ice cream. A piece of this innovative, delicious durian ice cream is available at IceDEA (www.facebook.com/icedea) /// Thailand.

 

Crispy freeze-dried durian makes a perfect snack. It's light and also full of nutrients. /// Malaysia
Crispy freeze-dried durian makes a perfect snack. It’s light and also full of nutrients. /// Malaysia

 

This Hello-Kitty durian ice cream is a combination of cute and cool. /// Malaysia
This Hello-Kitty durian ice cream is a combination of cute and cool. /// Malaysia

 

Thailand's well-known and loved Dhara Dhevi cake shop offers numerous baked goods on its menu. Try out these durian macarons. Pair them with your favorite choice of tea, and you won't be disappointed. www.facebook.com/dharadhevicakeshop /// Thailand.
Thailand’s well-known and loved Dhara Dhevi cake shop offers numerous baked goods on its menu. Try out these durian macarons. Pair them with your favorite choice of tea, and you won’t be disappointed. www.facebook.com/dharadhevicakeshop /// Thailand

 

HEMELTZs Chocolat has lines of assorted durian chocolate to choose from. The Singaporean owned brand sources high-quality durian from Thailand and export these luxurious chocolates to the world. www.hemeltzschocolat.com /// Singapore
HEMELTZs Chocolat has lines of assorted durian chocolate to choose from. The Singaporean owned brand sources high-quality durian from Thailand and export these luxurious chocolates to the world. www.hemeltzschocolat.com /// Singapore

 

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Innovative durian-based products are mostly on offer during durian peak season (June and July). Thailand’s Inthanin Coffee creates special durian latte selections. And for a limited time this year, Beard Papa in Singapore also rolls out durian cream puffs. See more at www.facebook.com/inthanincoffee and www.facebook.com/beardpapasingapore /// Thailand /// Singapore

 

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Dubbed “durian pancake” or “durian crepe,” this bite-size sweet pack has loads of fresh cream wrapped inside a thin layer of durian crepe like a little golden treasure box. /// Malaysia
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