10 Asian Dishes You’ve Never Heard Of (Slideshow)
December 9, 2013
From savory pancakes to curries, don’t miss these Eastern epicurean delights
1. Hong You Chao Shou (China)
Hong you chao shou (红油抄手) are steamed pork wontons served in a dark red, spicy Sichuan chile oil and often garnished with scallions. While the dumplings themselves aren’t spicy, the oil they are submerged in is decidedly fiery. Often served as an appetizer at fine restaurants like Shun Lee West in New York City, they are also served at night markets like Shilin Night Market in Taipei and at Crystal Jade Restaurant in Hong Kong International Airport. Try at home with this recipe.
2. Cong You Bing (China)
This Chinese street food is served at small storefronts and stalls across Shanghai, but it also a staple at Taiwan’s night markets, like Le Hua Night Market in Yonghe, Taipei. Cong you bing (葱油饼) is a fried, savory pancake made of unleavened dough infused with scallions and often topped with cheese, fried egg, lettuce, and a variety of sauces from sweet hoisin to spicy chile. No knives and forks are required to eat this snack, which is hard to find in the West. While many Chinese restaurants have "scallion pancakes" on their menus, none can match the texture and taste of the authentic version. Some of the best can be found at the intersection of Changle and Xiangyang North Road in Shanghai’s French Concession. The folks from UnTour Shanghai can lead you to these fried delights which are lovingly prepared by an elderly hunchback whose crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside pancakes are arguably the best. Closer to home, look in the frozen food section at Asian grocery stores.
3. Jianbing (China)
Many Beijingers start their day with a jianbing (煎饼). The ubiquitous Beijing breakfast is served from street carts all over the city. The Chinese-style crepe is made of eggs fried on a flat griddle and stuffed with a crispy wafer of fried dough, lettuce, and sauce. Try one of the savory treats made by the reliable folks at Shandong Shadajie Culiang Jianbing in Beijing or experiment at home with this jianbing recipe.
4. Hanoi Fried Fish (Vietnam)
Hanoi fried fish is the ultimate treat served not only in Hanoi but Ho Chi Minh City, too. A simple white fish is fried and served with peppers and onions on a sizzling plate — just like fajitas — and diners are presented a platter with pineapple, carrots, cucumber, vermicelli noodles, peanuts, and lettuce, which are stuffed into translucent rice wrappers and then drizzled with nuoc cham sauce. Try it at Chả Cá Thăng Long Restaurant near Hoan Kiem Lake.
5. Hue-Style Spring Rolls (Vietnam)
While cold spring rolls stuffed with vegetables and wrapped in translucent rice wrappers are ubiquitous, Hue-style spring rolls are less so. The imperial capital of Vietnam makes its signature spring rolls with carrots, shrimp, and pork wrapped in rice noodles that are lightly fried. Try them at Quan An Ngon in Ho Chi Minh City, across from the Reunification Palace.
6. Bún Chả (Vietnam)
Pho might be the national soup in Vietnam but bún chả is nearly as popular. A heap of cold vermicelli noodles is topped with cilantro, carrots, cucumbers, and marinated pork and/or deep fried spring rolls and served with a small bowl of nuoc cham sauce. KOTO in Hanoi serves some of the best, and those who dine there are giving back to charity, too. Proceeds from tabs go to help street children, and the restaurant’s staff are from disadvantaged backgrounds and spend 18 months training at KOTO before graduating to other hospitality jobs. Closer to home, try bún chả at Pho Bang in New York City or make it at home.
7. Navratan Korma (India)
Navratan korma ("Nine Treasures" curry) is a Mughlai dish containing nine vegetables, fruits, and nuts such as cashews, paneer (fresh cheese), cubed potato, French beans, carrots, peas, cauliflower, green peppers, pineapple, and raisins. The dish is fairly simple to make at home with this recipe.
8. Bánh Xèo (Vietnam)
Bánh xèo are large fried rice pancakes that sizzle when made on a hot skillet. These crispy paper-thin pancakes are stuffed with pork, shrimp, green onion, and bean sprouts and can be dipped into fish sauce. Try them at Quan An Ngon in Ho Chi Minh City or at Nha Hang Pho Viet Huong in New York City, or at home.
9. Lu Rou Fan (Taiwan)
Lu rou fan (滷肉飯) is the ultimate Taiwanese comfort food. Served at mom-and-pop storefronts across Taiwan, the savory stewed pork over rice is garnished with a "century egg" (tea-soaked boiled egg), mustard greens, roasted peanuts, and radish at Tearriffic in New York City’s Chinatown. Here’s a recipe to try it at home.