Trying National Dishes from around the world is an adventure on its own. According to Wikipedia, a national dish is a culinary dish that is strongly associated with a particular country and culture. When I vacation to foreign places, the first thing I do when I arrive is to look for a place to eat.
I have compiled a list of “National Dishes of Asia” with this article being the first one out of a 6 article series. It was a challenge finding that one dish for each country because some of them didn’t have an official dish. I will safely say that if a country has no defined National Dish, then we will refer to them as “traditional dishes.”
National Dishes of Asia
*The list below will contain the official national dish of its country and if one does not have any, the traditional dish will be in its place.
1. China – Peking Duck
Peking duck is a dish from Beijing that has been prepared since the imperial era. The meat is characterized by its thin, crisp skin, with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat, sliced in front of the diners by the cook. The meat is eaten with spring onion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce with pancakes rolled around the fillings. Sometimes pickled radish is also inside, and other sauces (like hoisin sauce) can be used.
2. Turkey – Döner Kebab
Döner Kebab is a Turkish kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Seasoned meat(Lamb, beef or chicken) stacked in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly on the rotisserie, next to a vertical cooking element. The outer layer is sliced vertically into thin shavings as it cooks. The sliced meat of a Döner Kebab may be served on a plate with various accompaniments, stuffed into a pita or other type of bread as a sandwich, or wrapped in a thin flatbread such as lavash or yufka, known as a dürüm.
3. Indonesia – Nasi Goreng (Official National Dish)
Nasi Goreng means “fried rice” in Indonesian. It can refer directly to fried pre-cooked rice that is stir-fried in a small amount of cooking oil or margarine. This dish is typically spiced with Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce), shallot, garlic, ground shrimp paste, tamarind and chilli and accompanied by other ingredients, particularly egg, chicken and prawns. There is also another kind of nasi goreng which is made with Ikan Asin (salted dried fish), also popular in Indonesia.
4. Pakistan – Sindhi Biryani
The exotic and aromatic Sindhi biryani is known in Pakistan for its spicy taste, fragrant rice and delicate meat. Sindhi biryani is a beloved staple in food menus in the Pakistani cuisine and Sindhi cuisine. Sindhi biryani is prepared with meat and an amalgamation of Basmati rice, vegetables and various types of spices.
5. Thailand – Pad Thai
Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food and at casual local eateries in Thailand. It is made with soaked dried rice noodles, which are stir-fried with eggs and chopped firm tofu, and is flavoured with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chilli pepper and palm sugar and served with lime wedges and often chopped roasted peanuts.
6. Russia – Pelmeni
Pelmeni is dumplings consisting of a filling wrapped in thin, unleavened dough. The dough is made from flour and water, sometimes adding a small portion of eggs. The filling can be minced meat (pork, lamb, beef, or any other kind of meat), or fish. The mixing together of different types of meat is also popular.
7. Japan – Ramen
Ramen is a Japanese dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth, often flavoured with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork (chāshū), dried seaweed (nori), menma, and green onions (negi). Nearly every region in Japan has its variation of Ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido.
8. Philippines – Adobo (Official National Dish)
Adobo is a popular dish and cooking process in Philippine cuisine that involves meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black peppercorns. It is browned in oil, simmered in the marinade and then served with rice.
9. Vietnam – Phở
Phở is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở containing a few herbs, vegetables and a variety of meats. It’s made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà). Phở is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty at some restaurant chains around the world.
10. Iran – Chelow-Kebab (Considered the National Dish)
Chelow-Kebab is an Iranian dish consisting of cooked rice (čelow) and one of the many varieties of Iranian kebab. It is considered as the “national dish” of Iran. Chelow Kebab is served with accompaniments such as butter, sumac powder, basil, onions, grilled tomatoes, and egg yolk.
What determines a dish to be the suggested National Dish?
From my experience with trying different national dishes, I’ve noticed the following.
- The national dish is usually the staple food of the country and accompanied by other side dishes.
- The recipe contains exotic ingredients indigenous to the location.
- Large gatherings and festive events served the national dish.
- The dish was available at the majority of restaurants in the Country.
To answer this question, I believe that National Dishes are determined based on the local exotic ingredients, cultural influences, availability at local restaurants and of course also made at home. I’m sure this is a small fraction of what determines the national dish of a country. Many countries in the past have a rich history of being colonized by other nations which influenced and introduced new types of cuisines. The spice trade also influenced the recipes in Asia, Europe and other countries.
In the next article, I will be covering a few more Country’s National Dishes from a different continent. If you like to see more dishes from the continent of Asia, leave me a comment down below.
Thank you for reading.
Descriptions of dishes: Wikipedia
Pictures: Sources credited on image caption
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People see me as a thinker and I love solving puzzles. It’s my instinct to reverse engineer almost everything that I come in contact with. So if you need another mind to look at something, that’s me!