Essential tips for foodies traveling to Southeast Asia

Without a doubt, gourmet chef John Denboer‘s favorite region in the world when it comes to exotic cuisine in Asia. He has traveled to the area several times to learn and taste the different food the continent has to offer.

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For this blog, he shares three food and travel tips for foodies planning to visit Southeast Asia.

Expensive doesn’t mean better.

Many places in Southeast Asia have some of the tastiest food in the world but aren’t really that expensive. In fact, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia all have the most unforgettable street food in the world in terms of preparation and taste, and they all cost a fraction of what one would pay for in a high-end restaurant.

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Ask the locals where to find the best food.

Since Southeast Asia is mostly comprised of third-world countries, it’s easy to overlook restaurants that don’t look too posh. Locals in Southeast Asia would know the best places to eat. These places may not be the prettiest, but their menus far surpass many more hip joints.

Bring proper gear and medications.

As with any trip to exotic places, tourists should bring all the right things such as sunglasses and insect repellants, comfy walking shoes and clothing, etc. In case one’s tummy acts up, or one has an allergic reaction after eating food they have never tried before, it’s also wise to carry medications, John Denboer adds.

Kitchen essentials every home should have

Gourmet chef John Denboer holds private classes so that his students may learn things they may not have had the chance to learn elsewhere.  Though he is an avid foodie and traveler, he encourages people to know their way around the kitchen.  For those who are just learning how to cook, here are must-have kitchen tools for the home.

<b>Chef’s knife and cutting board</b>

Investing in many knives might not be practical for beginners.  Getting a chef’s knife that has the right size and weight will allow a person to conveniently cut, slice, dice, chop, and more with one tool.  Chefs suggest getting a knife that’s not too light, too heavy, or too big.  It should also be made of a stainless material that will stay sharp for a long time.  Of course, one shouldn’t forget to buy a cutting board.  For beginners, getting a rubberized and lightweight board is enough. 

<b>Non-stick pan</b>

<a href=”“>John Denboer</a> admits that kitchen newbies gain their confidence by first learning how to fry.  Getting a non-stick pan is an excellent addition to the kitchen because it can also be used for other purposes other than frying.  When buying, choose a pan that’s made of ceramic coating for safety. 

<b>Utensil set</b> One will need spatula, whisks, tongs, and spoons to cook a sumptuous meal.  Getting a utensil set will make kitchen tasks easier from preparation, actual cooking, plating, and serving.  According to Chef John Denboer, buying a high-quality utensil doesn’t have to be expensive.  One has to find a set made of sustainable and high-quality materials that can be used for a long time. 

Three exotic Asian dishes everyone should try at least once in their lives

Throughout his travels, gourmet chef John Denboer has tasted and learned to prepare some of the most popular exotic food on the planet. Admittedly, most of his favorites come from the same continent – Asia.

On that note, John shares three exotic Asian dishes that everyone should try at least once in their lives.

Bird’s Nest Soup

Bird’s Nest Soup from China is known in culinary circles as the “Caviar of the East.” Made from actual swift’s nests – which comprise mostly of swiftlet saliva – this exotic soup features quite a unique texture that’s almost gelatinous. The fact that swiftlets build nests over 35 days and people can only harvest it approximately thrice a year makes this dish extremely seasonal, rare, difficult and dangerous to harvest, and most of all, expensive.

Bird’s Nest Soup is considered to be both an aphrodisiac and a great source of protein, John Denboer adds.

Fried Tarantulas

The Fried Tarantulas of Cambodia is not for the fainthearted and arachnophobes. This exotic treat was discovered during the perilous period when the Khmer Rouge ruled the region. Hundreds of thousands of people suffering found out that tarantulas were in fact, edible. Since then, these eight-legged terrors have evolved from being an important source of nutrition to a well-known delicacy, especially for tourists, explains John Denboer.

Puffer Fish

John Denboer mentions that as far as food for thrill-seekers goes, Japan’s Puffer Fish is at the top of the mountain. The tetrodotoxin found inside the fish is over a thousand times more potent than cyanide, which is why even the cooking of the fish requires intense training and certification.

In fact, 15 people have perished in Thailand because of this fish.

Gourmet kitchen discussion: Ventilation

John Denboer is a gourmet chef who specializes in teaching groups of students. While he’s not conducting a cooking class, he’s busy sharing what he knows via his series of blogs.

For this blog, John Denboer focuses on gourmet kitchens and takes a closer look at the significance of ventilation.

Ventilation is an important part of gourmet kitchens especially ones with high-end appliances. A good ventilation system will keep grease and steam from spreading everywhere and will keep smoke detectors quiet.

John Denboer explains that carefully calculating a range hood’s cubic feet per minute (CFM) is essential. It’s this measurement that will tell a person just how much air a fan can ventilate a minute. The ideal range hood can cycle all the air in a kitchen every four minutes.

The equation to get the CFM is dividing the cubic feet of one’s kitchen and dividing it by four.

Now, John Denboer mentions that electric and gas stoves have different calculations as far as CFM goes. Electric stoves need 100 CFM for every 10 inches of width. As for gas stoves, simply divide the BTUs by 100.

For proper ventilation, the range hood should at least be based on either the stovetop CFM or kitchen dimension equation, whichever is higher. However, John Denboer recommends going beyond the minimum requirement.

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