Indochina may not be a region you associate with Christmas – after all, Christians are a minority throughout South East Asia, and Christmas isn’t much of a holiday here. But year after year, thousands of travellers make the pilgrimage to Indochina over the festive season, to take advantage of the warmth, perpetually fun-loving atmosphere and the sense of community and family which is so important throughout the region.
But if you’d rather save your South Eastern adventure for the New Year, there are other ways to incorporate an Indochinese twist into your festivities. If there’s one thing in South East Asia which is (almost!) as important as family, it’s food – so forget that dry festive turkey and make this Christmas one to remember by applying some of the principles of Indochinese cooking to your festive feast! This blog will teach you how to ginger up your Christmas dinner by swapping your weary turkey for some spicy Thai chicken or those greasy pigs in blankets for some flavoursome Asian pork chops – Banana Tree style!
Swap out the Turkey for some Thai Lemongrass Chicken
You might be struggling to imagine how South East Asia can fit into a Christmas dinner – surely noodles just won’t go alongside the parsnips and the cranberry sauce? But by carefully selecting the right dishes, you can add a little festive zing, without going overboard. Take the turkey – you’d probably think it’s indispensable for a Christmas dinner, and you couldn’t get away with trying to replace it. But you should consider swapping the turkey out this year for a Thai lemongrass chicken – the lemongrass and chilies work well together to create a flavoursome and moist dish, a welcome improvement on the often bland, dry turkey meal. Adding a Thai lime sauce instead of gravy or cranberry sauce also will also add some novelty to your Christmas dinner. And don’t worry – you’ll still have plenty of leftover chicken for sandwiches, so you can still stick to your Boxing Day traditions with some post-Christmas bubble and squeak!
Switch Up your Vegetables, South East Asian Style
You’ll probably have fewer qualms about getting rid of the Brussels sprouts – it’s rarely anyone’s favourite part of the Christmas dinner, and it might be nice to have an excuse to drop it this year. And there’s plenty of South East Asian cuisine that can serve as a tasty alternative for your vegetable side dish – try some steamed broccoli with garlic butter and cashews for a tasty alternative. Baked sweet potatoes also make a nice change from parsnips without shaking things up too much – especially if it feels like you really need a sweet root vegetable somewhere for it to taste like a Christmas dinner. With a little seasoning, though, baked sweet potatoes can be a surprisingly popular little dish, and certainly help to balance some of the more substantial changes you might be making.
Try A Few Indochinese Nibbles
What’s really crucial for a standout Christmas dinner, though, is having a few of those terribly unhealthy but desperately tempting nibbles that you know you shouldn’t have – it may not feel like Christmas without indulging and taking a pig in a blanket as they get passed around. This is where South East Asia can really shine – good places to start are some Thai butter and garlic prawns or (perhaps to share) some Asian barbecued ginger pork chops. To really make your Christmas dinner memorable, though, go for some Thai chicken satay sticks – they’re spicy and unusual while still being perfect for a Christmas party or something to nibble on before dinner.