May is Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APIHM), where we celebrate the many wonderful cultures and contributions of the Asian diaspora. One of those contributions comes in the form of food, which despite the relatively recent trends of Asian cuisines, may not find its way to the mainstream food scene anytime soon. We’ve listed ten items that you might find in your neck of the woods and the countries and cultures that celebrate them.
Bánh Khọt (Vietnam)
Bánh Khọt (Bun Cot) are mini savory pancakes of central Vietnam origin, which are usually light and crispy, made from a golden batter consisting of turmeric, rice flour, corn starch, and coconut milk. In addition to being a popular street food in the southern region of the country, they are typically consumed as a light snack and appetizer.
Gosh-e Fil (Afghanistan, Iran)
This fried dough has origins in Iran and has been one of Afghanistan’s most popular sweets. Also known as the “elephant ear” pastry, it is typically topped with powdered sugar, ground cardamom and/or chopped pistachios. Gosh-e Fil is usually served with tea during Ramadan and Nowruz.
Momos (Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan)
As a popular dumpling in various countries, the Momo is generally regarded as the national dish of Tibet. It can be served steamed, fried, in soup, or stir fried. The fillings can vary from chicken to goat meat (yak) to vegetable. It is a staple food for the South Asian food scene.
The Philippines can lay claim to many delicious dishes, but one of it’s greatest exports from the Bicol region is Laing (lah-ing). The dish is made from taro leaves that are cooked in coconut milk, chili peppers, garlic, and ginger. The resulting dish has a thick and creamy consistency and is typically served with rice. Laing is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish to complement other Filipino dishes. It is a must-try for anyone visiting the Philippines and looking to experience the country’s rich culinary culture.
Laksa (Malaysia, Singapore)
Simpang Asia, Los Angeles, CA
Laksa is a popular dish in Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. It is a spicy noodle soup that is usually made with a rich and flavorful coconut milk-based broth. The dish is typically served with rice noodles, and the toppings can vary depending on the region and the recipe. Common toppings include shrimp, chicken, tofu, fish cakes, and vegetables. The dish has a unique blend of flavors and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Rasmalai (Indian Subcontinent)
Rasmalai (rah-sum-ma-lie) is a popular dessert in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the regions of West Bengal, Odisha, and Bangladesh. It is a sweet and spongy dessert made from chhena (cottage cheese) and soaked in a sweet syrup made from sugar and water. The cheese balls are often flavored with cardamom or rosewater, which gives them a unique and aromatic taste. Rasmalai is typically served chilled and garnished with nuts such as pistachios and almonds. It is a beloved dessert for special occasions and festivals in the region
Oyster Omelette (Taiwan)
Taiwanese oyster omelette (oh-ah-jen) is a popular street food in Taiwan that consists of a savory omelette made with a batter of tapioca starch, eggs, and scallions. The dish is then filled with juicy oysters, sometimes mixed with vegetables such as garlic chives or leafy greens. The omelette is pan-fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It is then drizzled with a sweet and sour sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
HK Style French Toast (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong-style French toast (sai-dor-see) is a popular breakfast dish that can be found in many local cha chaan tengs (tea houses) across Hong Kong. Unlike traditional French toast, it is made with thick slices of white bread that are stuffed with peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk before being dipped in a mixture of eggs and milk. The bread is then fried until crispy and served with a generous drizzle of syrup or honey.
Hotteok (South Korea)
Hotteok (ho-dok) is a beloved street food in South Korea that is typically enjoyed as a sweet and satisfying snack. The dish consists of a warm and fluffy pancake that is filled with a delicious mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and chopped nuts, such as peanuts or walnuts. Hotteok is often eaten during the winter months, as it provides a comforting and warming treat during the cold weather.
Dongpo Pork (China)
Dong Po Rou, also known as braised pork belly, is a famous Chinese dish that originates from Hangzhou, a city in the Zhejiang province of China. The dish consists of thick slices of fatty pork belly that are slowly cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, and sugar until they are tender and flavorful. The dish is named after Su Dongpo, a famous poet and gastronome from the Song dynasty, who is said to have created the recipe. This dish is often served with steamed buns or vegetables.