Cook Your Way through Southeast Asia with These Youtube Channels

Whether you’re craving Vietnamese noodle soup or spicy Balinese food while in self-isolation, four Southeast Asian home cooks will inspire you to try making it all yourself.

Through Pailin’s Kitchen, anyone can learn to make beef massaman curry entirely from scratch.

Pailin’s Kitchen

Based in Vancouver, Pailin “Pai” Chongchitnant gives her virtual audience the lowdown on Thai cuisine in a clear, informative, and engaging manner that will make you think she could host her own TV show. Unsurprisingly, her most-viewed videos are those on classics such as green curry, tom yum goong, and beef massaman curry. Don’t miss the nine-minute episode about duck noodle soup (bamee bped toon), which riffs on a beloved street food by braising duck leg in chicken stock infused with a quartet of toasted spices—cinnamon sticks, star anise, coriander seeds and Sichuan peppercorns—as well as seasonings like oyster sauce, palm sugar, galangal, and pandan leaf. Meanwhile, desserts range from more traditional options like Thai banana pancake (Thai roti) and black sticky-rice pudding to a simple mango ice cream made in a blender. Whichever one you pick, Pai’s videos are an absolute joy to watch.

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“No-escape chicken” (ga khong loi thoat) made by Helen Le.

Helen’s Recipes

Vietnamese cookbook author Helen Le teaches viewers how to replicate the flavors of her country in their kitchens through step-by-step guides to making dishes like bun bo Hue, the spicy beef noodle soup from Vietnam’s former imperial capital. Le demystifies the cooking process behind the crepe-like bahn xeo and the northern Vietnamese crab noodle soup known as bun rieu; the latter uses small freshwater crabs for their roe and grinds the shells and meat alike into a fine paste for a flavorful stock. Quite a few recipes are downright fun, like ga khong loi thoat (“no-escape chicken”), which describes a chicken drumstick coated in sticky rice that is then deep-fried until a crispy crust develops. Le proves this is easily achievable: the chicken must be marinated for an hour in a mixture of five-spice powder and grated garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar and baked or fried beforehand, while the sticky rice can be cooked in a microwave in just a few minutes. It’s worth checking back at least once a week—a new mouth-watering video will be uploaded every Friday.

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Crispy, paper-thin kuih loyang cookies by Linda, the home cook behind Malaysian Chinese Kitchen.

Malaysian Chinese Kitchen

The work of a U.S.–based Youtuber by the name of Linda and her husband Paul, Malaysian Chinese Kitchen covers an extensive selection of appetizers and snacks, mains, and desserts eaten in Peninsular Malaysia. One to look out for is the curry laksa, Linda’s favorite noodle dish, while those with a sweet tooth will want to watch the video on kuih loyang—crispy honeycomb-shaped cookies made using a special mold and a simple batter of eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and rice flour. Linda’s wide-ranging repertoire includes lobak, or five-spice meat rolls wrapped in bean curd sheets; the Chinese New Year specialty ho see fatt choy (braised oyster and dried black moss); a Nyonya stir-fried pork dish that harnesses the umami flavor of cincalok, a condiment of fermented shrimp or krill popular in Penang and Malacca; as well as Hakka kau yoke (steamed pork with taro), though she opts to cook a leaner version that swaps out pork belly for tender sirloin roast.

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Novi briefs her viewers before making the celebrated Balinese chicken dish “ayam betutu”.

Novi’s Bali Kitchen

This channel turns the spotlight on the food of Indonesia’s favorite holiday isle. Lesser-known specialties such as lawar gedang—a young papaya salad featuring spiced mackerel—and braised pork rib with young jackfruit (balung nangka) make an appearance, as does tum ayam, parcels of minced chicken steamed in banana leaf with Indonesian bay leaves and bumbu genep, the foundational cooking paste of Balinese cuisine. Bumbu genep gets its own video, and for good reason: it’s a potpourri of no less than 15 kinds of spices, rhizomes, and other aromatic ingredients that home cooks are well-advised to prepare in bulk and store for later use. By popular demand from her subscribers, Novi has also posted a video demonstrating how to make the famous chicken dish ayam betutu. While this is not something one could realistically make in an apartment, given the need for a covered clay brazier to grill the chicken (double-wrapped in banana leaf and a large palm frond) over charcoal and rice husks, it’s nonetheless a fascinating look at the labor-intensive process required to create this smoky Balinese favorite.

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