In Japan, Southeast Asian cuisine is distinguished from Korean and Chinese cuisine. Korean and Chinese cooking contains many different ingredients and seasonings from Southeast Asian recipes, which is why it is put in a separate category. What Japanese associate with “ethnic cooking” can be found in this category.

Similar to the term “European cuisine,” it’s a word that doesn’t recognize the vast varieties of cooking styles. But, when discussing Southeast Asian food, the list below is often used as examples.

  • Vietnamese cooking
  • Thai cooking
  • Indonesian cooking
  • Indian cooking
  • Sri Lankan cooking

Seasonings such as “nam pla” and “coriander (cilantro)” are characteristic of Southeast Asian cooking. Spicy dishes are found in Chinese and Korean cuisine as well, but the intensity of the heat felt when eating Southeast Asian cuisine can probably be attributed to the use of difference in spices.

In Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines, curry dishes are quite popular. You might think of course curry is popular! It’s even a national dish in Japan!? But actually, the curry found in Japanese cooking is derived from the European style. Therefore, the curry found in India and Sri Lanka are probably very different from Japanese curries.