Food & Drink

7 savoury Southeast Asian recipes featuring tropical fruits

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Southeast Asia is home to some of the best cuisines in the world, and the food is relatively simple to cook up at home. In this editorial series, we bring you video tutorials and recipes on how to cook some Southeast Asian food at home.

Tropical asian fruits are delicious, sweet, tangy and juicy. Fruits are often used in desserts or eaten as a snack, but they are also featured quite liberally in savoury Asian cooking. The favourites that come to mind are the Thai papaya salad called Som Tum or Rojak buah in Malaysia.

This time, we’re focusing on savoury Asian recipes that use fruits:

1. Som tum

som tum

Let’s kick off with the obvious, Som Tum. This sour, spicy, and nutty green papaya salad is a staple in many Thai restaurants. Some recipes even use green mangoes for that extra tang. Here, Pailin’s Kitchen on Youtube  has a video tutorial you can follow to make this punchy salad and a written recipe on her blog, Hot Thai Kitchen:

2. Rojak buah


Rojak means mixture and buah means fruits; so rojak buah is simply a mixture of fruits. There are various types of rojak in Malaysia, including the Penang version called Pasembur. This fruit version is commonly found around KL and PJ and is made with fruits like pineapples, water apples, jicama, and green mango. It’s served with a sweet and sour sauce and a dusting of crushed peanuts. Flavours of Asia has a written recipe on her blog, Sea Salt with Food, and a quick video tutorial you can follow to make this authentically Malaysian snack:

3. Cekodok pisang



This is another popular Malaysian tea-time snack, this time made with bananas. These are made using overripe bananas, which are mixed with a few other ingredients, shaped into balls, and then deep fried. Usually, Malaysians just buy cekodok from stalls that pop up in most neighbourhoods around late afternoon selling various deep fried snacks like banana fritters, keropok lekor (fish chips), and cucur udang (Prawn fritters). But this sweet and savoury snack is easy enough to make at home. The Nyonya Cooking Youtube  channel has a simple tutorial you can watch below and a written recipe on her blog:

4. Prawn curry with pineapples

prawn curry

This dish is a typical peranakan – or nyonya – dish with a hint of sweetness from the pineapples and heat from chillies. In Malay, this style of cooking is called masak lemak, which is a dish cooked with santan (coconut milk) and chilli, making it creamy and spicy. This curry will go well with freshly steamed white rice or bread to soak up the delicious gravy. Nyonya Cooking has a video tutorial and a written recipe on her blog, which you can follow to make this dish at home. Watch the tutorial here:

5. Mango and coconut chutney

mango chutney

In Malaysia, you’ll find plenty of South Indian dishes from southern Indian states like Andhara, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. One popular dish for breakfast here in Malaysia is thosai, a thin crepe-like dish made out of a batter of ground rice and lentils. There are a few varieties of thosai here and everyone has their favourite, but one thing most people agree on, however, is that thosai is not complete without chutney. The common types of chutney are coconut and mint, but there’s also tomato and even mango. The Get Curried Youtube channel has a quick and easy recipe on making South Indian mango chutney, which you can watch here:

6. Panang duck curry with lychee

panag duck curry

This curry is quite popular in Thailand and is slowly gaining popularity here in Malaysia as well. One restaurant in the country that serves duck and lychee curry is My Elephant. The combination of chillies, gamey duck, and sweet lychees gives the curry a well-rounded flavour. Now, you can make this sumptuous curry at home too with a simple tutorial from the FoodTravelTV Youtube channel. The person in the video is speaking Thai but clear English subtitles are provided so you should have no trouble at all whipping this one up:


7. Pomelo and prawn salad

pomelo prawn salad

This is a Vietnamese dish that is best made with the freshest ingredients. Pomelos are easily found in local grocery stores and prawns, though expensive, are easily available as well. The flavours of this salad are fresh and herbacious with a hint of heat – much like the Thai som tum. Here’s video tutorial on how to make this simple dish from the Indechine Food Blog Youtube channel which you can watch here:

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