Foodle – Deciphering the Asian Menu

Asian food being from the East, albeit, the far east shares many of the same ingredients as the Indian and especially Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. The freshness of coriander, spicy ginger and sweet coconut milk about in Asian cooking making it a popular choice among the muslim community in South Africa.

We have some awesome halaal Asian restaurants and sushi spots but darn if it doesn’t take extra long to place your order. If only we could understand the dishes at a glance it would save some time better used to dig in to all that deliciousness.

Our second installment of Foodle tackles all things Asian, including Chinese, Thai and Japanese.

Enjoy this list and if you find it useful please share.


Kung Pao Chicken – A famous Sichuan-style specialty. The major ingredients are diced chicken, dried chili, cucumber, and fried peanuts (or cashews).

Chow mein – Stir-fried noodles that typically contains of onions and celery with a protein.

Chao Fan – Fried rice is a dish made from fried cooked rice and other ingredients, often including eggs, vegetables, seafood, or meat.

Chop Suey – A dish in American Chinese cuisine consisting of meat and eggs, cooked quickly with vegetables such as bean sprouts, cabbage, and celery and bound in a starch-thickened sauce.

Sichuan – Any dish with Sichuan flavours will be spicy and peppery with the use of Sichuan pepper.
Dim sum – Describes a large range of small dishes, including dumplings, rolls, cakes, and meat, seafood, dessert, and vegetable preparations.

Dumpling – Minced meat and/or chopped vegetables wrapped in a thin dough skin. Dumplings can be cooked by boiling, steaming, or frying.

Potsticker – Fried dumplings

Wonton – Sphere-shaped dumplings usually served boiled in broth or deep-fried

Bao – A bread-like dumpling filled with meat or. They’re usually steamed—which makes the buns delightfully squishy and soft.

Huoguo (Hotpot) -A cooking method where raw ingredients like meat and vegetables are cooked tableside in a giant pot of simmering broth.

Find halaal Chinese food here.


Tom Yum  Soup – Hot and sour sinus clearing broth made with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, lime juice, fish sauce, fresh chilli. Uusally made with shrimps, veg or meat.

Tom Kha Kai – similar soup to Tom Yum but with the addition of chicken, coconut milk and less chilli.

Thai Satay – Strips of chicken or beef are marinated in a special Thai paste, then skewered and grilled and served with peanut sauce.

Pad Thai (Thai-Style Fried Noodles) -A signature dish in Thailand it comprises rice noodles (thin or wide) stir-fried with extravagant amounts of fresh prawns, crunchy bean sprouts, eggs, tasty tofu cubes, onion, and finely grated peanuts.

Kaeng Khiao Wan (Thai Green Curry) – This is the hottest curry in Thailand with coconut milk and spices and herbs, such as Thai basil, shallots, blue ginger, garlic, turmeric, and kaffir lime leaves. Chicken and vegetables are usually added.

Kaeng Phet (Thai Red Curry) – Similar to green curry ingredients but where dried or fresh red chillies form the basis of the flavour. It is milder than green curry.

Massaman Curry – Slightly thicker than green curries it has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It is actually a dish derived from Indian curry and has a Persian influence. It originated in South Thailand near the border of Malaysia where Muslims previously lived.

Panang Curry -Thai panang chicken curry has a thicker curry paste made from coriander seeds, cumin seeds, shrimp sauce, peanuts, and red curry paste, which are all ground together. It uses coconut milk to make the sauce thick.

Find some great halaal Thai food spots here.


Sushi – The word ‘sushi’ refers to any dish made with Japanese rice that has been seasoned with rice vinegar. Common varieties of sushi include makizushi (sushi rice and fillings rolled up in nori seaweed), nigiri sushi (shaped, bite-size mounds of sushi rice with single slices of raw fish or similar draped over the top) and inarizushi (sushi rice stuffed inside pockets of inari; a type of seasoned, fried tofu).

Find some great halaal sushi spots here.

Sashimi – Raw fish or meat that has been expertly cut into thin slices and typically comes served with daikon radish, pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Udon – Thick, chewy noodles traditionally made from wheat flour and brine water. Udon can be served in a number of different ways mixed into stir fries, added to hot pots or soups.

Tempura – Pieces or slices of meat, fish, and/or vegetables that have been covered in a special light batter and deep fried until they become crunchy and pale gold in colour.

Yakitori – Grilled Chicken Skewers

Soba –  A type of noodle made with buckwheat

Ramen – A noodle soup dish consisting of wheat noodles, a savoury broth and toppings of meat, protein, and/or vegetables.

Sukiyaki – A Japanese hot pot dish most commonly enjoyed during the winter. Sukiyaki hot pots are prepared by searing beef slices in the hot pot, then adding sukiyaki broth and different vegetables, noodles, and proteins. The name ‘sukiyaki’ means ‘cook what you like’

Miso soup – Made from a combination of miso paste (a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soy beans) and dashi broth, miso soup is served as a side dish with traditional Japanese-style meals. The complex savoury flavours of the soup help to enhance the umami of the main dishes with which it is served.

Wagashi – Traditional Japanese sweets. Most wagashi are made using only a handful of select ingredients, including mochi rice cakes, anko paste, kanten (agar; a vegetarian thickener similar to gelatine), chestnuts, and sugar.

Related: A guide to Middle Eastern food names


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