5 of Asia’s best breads
IF you have a hankering for Asia’s warm, soft, flaky, unusual and downright delicious breads, look no further than this list of doughy highlights from across the region.
This flat bread can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. A similar bread is also found in Burma. Roti canai does have its roots in Indian cuisine and is traditionally eaten with dhal (lentils) or curry but there are also sweet versions with various toppings or fillings. The bread is made either by spreading the dough thinly before its folded, or twirling it into a thin sheet and then folding it. Either way it is stretched a lot kind of like pizza dough and comes out kind of flaky and buttery thanks to the copious amounts of fat in there, while the centre is more soft. It’s fried on a flat iron skillet with lots of oil. Ghee, rather than butter, is recommended if you plan on attempting to reinvent your experience back home.
Thanks to the French colonials in Cambodia and Laos, it’s possible to find the wonderful crusty baguette in these countries. It goes perfect with your thick Laos or Cambodian coffee of a morning or perhaps a snack. You’ll commonly find some cheese spread served with your baguette if you order in a coffee house. Baguette sandwhiches are also common in markets with cured meats, pate, herbs, pickles and the like. Sometimes the bread is toasted. Delicious!
Naan bread is found in West, Central and South Asia but the word originates from Iran or Persia. The word naan just means bread in a generic sense but it has come to be associated with a thick flat bread cooked in a tandoor oven sort of resembling pita. It has a softer dough than many other breads and may come with toppings of butter, cheese, garlic, meat or vegetables. Today you find it in Burma, India, Pakistan, and parts of China amongst other countries.
No, we kid you not, in South Korea one of the most favourite breads is the ddongbang or poop bread. It is shaped as the name suggests but that’s where the similarities end – thank goodness. This popular street snack is made by putting a sweetish batter in the appropriate shaped mould with a dollop of filling such as red bean. The bread is then closed over to cook, flipped and served crispy and warm. It comes out something akin to a waffle.
Asian Sweet Bread
Known also as Hong Kong Pai Bao or Hokkaido Milk Bread, this sweet and fluffy bread is popular amongst Chinese communities in Asia, particularly in Hong Kong. The texture of these is so soft and moist thanks to the egg and milk content it’s no wonder they are a popular fixture in bakeries. The outside can be more crusty. A similar sweet bread is also served in Japan.