International Flavor Trends: Southeast Asia

Tasty international foods and flavors continue to be popular and now we see an increase of international restaurants, cookbooks, and ingredients sold in supermarkets. Peanuts are an essential ingredient in the Southeast Asian pantry. They are mainly used for oils, sauces and to give crunch and flavor to salads and stir-fries. According to American Peanut Council, “peanuts probably originated in South America and spread throughout the New World as Spanish explorers discovered the peanut’s versatility. When the Spaniards returned to Europe, peanuts went with them. Later, traders were responsible for spreading peanuts to Asia and Africa.”

America’s food culture is diverse and dynamic so let’s explore Southeast Asian cuisine which has inspired exciting new creations in the kitchens. These international foods definitely deliver bold and spicy flavors.  One of the popular foods served in Southeast Asia with peanuts is the cabbage salad known as the “Asian coleslaw.”  Try and make this easy five minute Thai Peanut Ginger Slaw.  It is amazingly delicious and refreshing.

Another common dish is the dipping peanut sauce which can be enhanced with garlic, shallots, chilies and red curry paste. It is used on what is referred to as "salad rolls" or "fresh spring rolls.” Try the Shrimp and Pork Salad Rolls with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce inspired by Vietnamese Chef Mai Pham of Lemon Grass and Star Ginger restaurants. These rolls are a great hot-weather appetizer or light lunch. They are filled with cooked shrimp, rice sticks, and fresh herbs and vegetables for flavor and crunch. In Southeast Asia, they also serve chicken satay, small skewers of grilled meat and chicken with a peanut sauce. The peanuts give the sauce its addictive quality.  

Whole or chopped peanuts are popular in Asian cuisine and they're often served as a garnish on noodles and stir-fries. A great example is the Asian Peanut Noodles.  This recipe creates a flavorful Thai treat with a crunch of peanuts and some peanut butter.

It is clear that this cuisine embraces enough flavors to satisfy any palate. For more international recipes please visit

Learn about another hot international cuisine, African, here

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