Top 5 / Southeast Asia’s spiciest dishes

Posted on: November 9, 2018 | Featured

From Thailand’s pad kra prao to the Philippines’ Bicol Express, Southeast Asia Globe looks at some of the region’s most fiery dishes

Pad kra prao, Thailand

Flavours_Pad-Kra-Prao_Southeast-Asia-Globe-2018Pad kra prao is a fiery stir-fry of holy basil, herbs, spices, a fried egg and chicken or other meat that promises to burn taste buds – but only in the best way. More adventurous travellers ask for theirs made “ped mak mak” — or very, very spicy, the way locals eat it. The ubiquitous dish can be found at restaurants and street stalls across Thailand.

Mala hin, Myanmar

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Mala hin is a vegetarian’s delight with tofu, beans, rice noodles, peas, kailan, carrots and other seasonal vegetables. The dish brings the heat, coming smothered in a spicy bean sauce and sometimes topped with peanuts. Some chefs wok-fry their vegetables, while others steam them. Either way, mala hin promises to spice up your time in Myanmar.

Curry laksa, Malaysia

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This Malaysian-Chinese dish comes in various versions, from tame to spicy. Toppings for this coconut-curry noodle soup can include blood cakes, cockles, cuttlefish or sliced hardboiled eggs. The Klang Valley is known as the spiciest, with a thicker broth and toppings like shredded chicken, fried tofu, bean sprouts, mint leaves and fried chilli paste.

Ayam penyet, Indonesia

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This East Javan fried chicken dish, whose name means “smashed chicken”, is served alongside cucumber, fried tofu, tempeh and spicy sambal. Marinated skin-on chicken thighs are boiled, then deep fried and finally smashed, producing a crispy outside with moist meat inside. The recipe’s spice comes from the sambal, a paste of chilli, anchovies, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, tamarind, sugar and lime juice, blended together to make a slightly sweet chili sauce.

Bicol express, the Philippines

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Bicol Express, or sinilihan, is a creamy coconut milk-based entrée comprised of pork, long chillies, shrimp paste or stockfish, onion and garlic. The dish derives its name from a passenger train from Manila to the Bicol region, famous for its spicy cuisine. The meal is quintessential Filipino comfort food, providing eaters with a full stomach and a healthy dose of heat. If you’re craving spice in the Philippines — in Bicol, Manila or beyond — Bicol Express is your go-to.

This article was published in the November 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.