Buy the same ingredient brands you’d find in a southeast Asian supermarket. Southeast Asian food covers a diverse range of cuisines. Vietnamese food, Thai food, Malaysian food, Indonesian food and Filipino food all have different characteristics, though there is some overlap.
Classic Thai ingredients include coconut milk, tamarind, kaffir lime, lemon grass – and of course chilli. Although all those ingredients are present in Malaysian cooking, Malaysian food can be richer, and more heavily spiced – think Chicken satay, curry laksa soup – taking influences from India and China. Black pepper is an important South Malaysian ingredient.
Indonesian ingredients such as sambal oelek have a similar chilli heat to Malaysian sambal sauce, and belachan – pressed shrimp paste – is a favourite salty base in both Malaysian and Indonesian food. Vietnamese food is about light clean flavours. Vietnamese ingredients such as fish sauce, palm sugar, and rice noodles are shared across the region, but French influences and an abundance of fresh herbs sets Vietnamese food apart. Start cooking your own southeast Asian food with our free recipes.