ASEAN is coming, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It's been around a long time, but more recently there is a drive to make it an Asian version of the European Union, with integrated trading, economy and free movement of people.
I decided to go visit some of our neighboring ASEAN countries to get a taste of their food. First off is Vietnam, Ho Chi Min city, aka Saigon is where I'm heading. The big food here is Pho , meat stocks used as the base for noodles, served with vegetables, meats and garnishes. Noodles are a familiar thing right across Asia, and there's nothing unique about these dishes, so I go searching for more exotic things.
Vietnamese fried spring rolls perhaps. Again a common dish of Vietnam, traditionally these spring rolls are served as wraps, not fried. The Chinese influence created this hybrid fried version. Served with a spicy dipping sauce, these are familiar fair in Thailand.
They have this celebration dish, a pancake filled with beansprouts, pork and shrimp, which you eat by wrapping portions of it in lettuce and dipping it in a spicy dipping sauce. The celebration here is the filling more than the flavor!
But things get a lot better when I explore the streets. Everywhere people make little stove cakes, backed over hot charcoal, and sheets of sliced banana. Simple delicious foods.
And soft cooked meats served in rich juices served with spicy sauces. This one is not for me, (its beef) but it looked absolutely delicious.
This is a promising start to my ASEAN adventures, but its not the best food I found here! More on that later.