Summer Foodie Cravings – Big Food Obsessions of the Season
It's time for your UV shades and SPF because summer has officially arrived!
Perhaps it's the rising temperature state-side that's reminding us of our glorious days back in the tropics, when blazing heat doesn't deter us from savoring (or more precisely, slurping) a beautiful bowl of bold, spicy, pungent, flavor-packed laksa, nor would the busy stalls situated inches from passing cars prevent us from forking our favorite nasi lemak.
While we generally are pretty food obsessed year round; this summer in particular we have a number of unwavering foodie cravings that's much missed from our pseudo-paleo diet. Why is it that the summertime just makes food taste a little bit better? This year the warm weather has driven us lusting over the marvelous flavors, bold ingredients and aromatic spices from Southeast Asia cuisine - that’s making quite an international impact - we thought we’d share some of our three favorite tastes, products and aromas from the best culinary of the region!
Laksa (spicy noodle soup)
To all who haven't tried laksa, know this. Life is not worth living if you haven't eaten a nice bowl of laksa. This is the type of food that cravings are made of. We are so very happy to see the rise of laksa in western hemisphere - checkout famed Malaysian mobile street food Azalina’s of San Francisco. Like ramen, different kind of soup base makes different laksa noodles.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="299"] Penang assam laksa via Rasamalaysia[/caption]
Assam laksa, aka Penang laksa, is a huge foodie obsession - particularly in the vibrant northern Malaysian city of Penang as well as KL.
The assam laksa is a pungent, fish-based soup generally made with poached flaked mackerel and tamarind (assam) to give it a bright, sour, tangy flavor. It’s simply spicy heaven giving off strong aromas of Southeast Asian power ingredients like lemongrass, galangal (in the ginger family) and chili, served with mint, onion, rice noodles and sometimes pineapple. Even Tony likes it!
Johor laksa , very similar to assam, except unlike the others it calls for wheat-based noodles and it contains coconut milk, kerisik (like a coconut butter), dried prawns, lemongrass, galangal and placed on the side, our personal favorite, sambal belacan (shrimp and chilli pepper paste). Yes, please, can we have another?
Here's an image of curry laksa, a hearty coconut-based curry - with bean sprouts and slices of fish cake and either shrimp or chicken.
In Indonesia, Bogor laksa of Bogor, Java, consists of a thick creamy, beautiful yellow-colored soup that is filled with coconut milk, garlic and shallots, kemiri (candlenuts), turmeric, coriander and lemongrass that's simmered to core, often overnight, for maximum flavor oomph. Packed with rice noodles, ketupat (rice cake), bean sprouts, basil, shredded chicken and prawn and a boiled egg. It's served with the addictive sambal cuka on the side (grinded chilli in vinegar) and sometimes tempeh.
Tender, juicy chunks of beef or chicken, painstakingly skewered by hands over bamboo sticks, and slow grilled over charcoal are the best. Smoky from slow caramelizing of brown sugar, shallots, cumin, chili, garlic and chili with burnt edges...
Who doesn’t love meat on a stick?
Most cuisines make some form of this food as a popular cultural dish, but satay – which is popular throughout Southeast Asian (mostly in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei) actually originated in Indonesia. In 2011, CNN Go listed it as number 14 in World’s 50 most delicious foods and we totally agree. While satay varies depending on the country and region, made with different proteins and dipping sauces, most versions have turmeric in the marinade to give it that characteristic yellow hue. Whether we’re chomping on pork, chicken, beef, fish, seafood or even snake meat and dipping it into a spicy peanut sauce, a pineapple based sauce, soy sauce or even a cucumber salad relish, we can’t seem to get enough satay.