Asian food is as vast and variable as the continent is. Often, the food gets lumped together under headings of ‘South Asian' or ‘oriental' but there are subtle differences in flavour and ingredients that are distinctive and should not be subject to these broad definitions. Thai food can often have a sweet element, you would almost never find sweet basil and peanuts in Japanese cuisine as you might in Vietnamese or Thai, and no one can match the sheer presentation skills of Japanese chefs. As people have increasingly greater exposure to different cuisine, either through travel or through new, cuisine specific restaurants that are opening their doors across the globe, these differences are getting their proper recognition and adventurous amateurs chefs trying to recreate their favourite maki roll or prawn laksa at home. If you count yourselves amongst these or would just like to combine your travels with some great food, plan your next sojourn around some of these cooking destinations.
responsibletravel.com - Cook your way around Thailand on a two-week authentic cooking tour. With a maximum of 12 people only, you can expect to get a genuinely personalised adventure. The tour includes travelling across the country, sampling the different regional and local produce and cuisines. From accessing secret family recipes in smaller towns to big city professional cooking classes in Bangkok, the tour promise a totally immersive food experience
travelindochina.com - This site offers an extensive Vietnamese cooking holiday. Spread over 2 weeks, it covers the rich and varied cuisine of the country. Tour highlights include trips to lively local markets, enjoying bowls of traditionally made pho, a boat trip with fresh seafood lunch, visits to a floating fish farming community, demonstrations at the Vietnamese Cookery Centre and taking in the historical local sights.
Cookery Magic, Singapore: This is a slightly different kind of cooking stop. Get up close and cooking with Ruqxana, in her apartment and help to prepare ingredients such as lemongrass from her home grown garden or make the perfect shrimp paste from a seaside village. Cook together to create the taste of Singapore and then sit around her relaxing family dining table and enjoy the fine food and conversation. Great for even a day's visit or a long layover, as it is a quick 2-minute ride from the airport.
thaicookingholidays.com - A luxury cooking holiday, your cooking school is based in the beautiful northern town of Chiang Mai or at the world renowned Blue Elephant in Bangkok. Cookery experts of the country teach the course. Broken down in to clearly defined segments, the course covers topics such as introduction to Thai ingredients, making curry pastes, negotiating a Thai market, vegetable carving etc.
Food Lovers Japan - addictedtotravel.com does a mean 14-day Japan yatra. Japan is purist heaven. With centuries of cooking traditions behind it, this Japanese cook off offers exciting treats from potent sake to beautifully presented desserts. Different techniques such as tempura and sushi are covered as well rounded off with a glimpse of Japan's best tourist attractions.
Cambodia Cooking Classes, Phnom Penh (cambodia-cooking-class.com) - Cambodian cuisine might not be as well known as its other Asian counterparts such as Chinese and Thai but you would be mistaken if you were to give it a miss. The tour offers cooking classes, advice on herbs and spices, live market experience and a book of recipes that will have your dinner party guests praising your chef-skills long after the last plate is cleared.
Tiger Trail, Luang Prabang - On the sheltered bank of the Nam Khan River, the Tiger Trail cooking classes give the visitor a palate-pleasing adventure. Working in an outdoor kitchen with master chefs, you pick and market our own ingredients and learn to conjure up amazing local treats and then sit down to devour them too.
Bayan Indah - For a unique and gorgeous, cooking experience check out this treat. Situated in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, situated at the edge of a serene rainforest. It is an ideal setting to teach individuals or groups. The classes are some of the most acclaimed in the country and they have a variety of courses, which you can choose from their culinary calendar. The food is completely organic and you will always leave feeling satisfied, satiated and in seventh heaven.
Last but not least is China where Luxury tour provider Artisans of Leisure offer a gourmet 11-day culinary trip that focuses on the mega-cities of Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong. The trip includes visits to gourmet restaurants, taking numerous private cooking lessons while visiting local markets and eating in family run restaurants. Regional cooking is also covered.
Disclaimer: thebuddinggourmet.com has not visited these destinations and all input is based on research and not on actual experience.