One of Britain’s most revered chefs and successful authors, Rick Stein sets off on an epic culinary journey
to explore the Far East’s most diverse food cultures which have soared to the height of popularity the world
Experience a heady mix of Chinese and French influences that characterises Vietnamese food; the
distinctive and unusual Khmer cuisine of Cambodia; and the light and fragrant flavours of Bangladesh that
helped shaped the menu of many so many UK curry houses.
From ruby red chillies to an incredible variety of seafood, fresh fruit and exotic vegetables, this is a mouthwatering trip bursting with new taste sensations, vibrant flavours and unusual recipes.
Along the way, Rick visits traditional family-run restaurants, street vendors, night markets, fishing villages, and local farmers to learn about the authentic food of the area, and to sample the delicious spectrum of flavours.
Rick’s journey across the Far East also takes in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and the islands of Indonesia.
Episode 1 – Cambodia
Rick begins his odyssey in Cambodia, a country still recovering from the regime of the Khmer Rouge. Nevertheless, tourists (and not just back-packing gap-year students) are beginning to return to this land dotted with sugar palms, paddy fields and small villages. Rick discovers the joys of freshly caught swimmer crabs cooked with green peppercorns from Kampot, once the king of pepper. He learns how to cook the most famous dish in the country, fish amok, made with lemongrass and coconut. He also samples lok lak, an extremely popular and delicious dish made with stir-fried strips of marinated beef. Like most people who come here, Rick visits the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat temple (the very symbol of the country), before joining a rice barge to take him down the mighty Mekong River to the border of Vietnam in the next episode.
Episode 2 – Vietnam
Rick travels down the Mekong River to Vietnam. Here, the food is light and fresh, prepared using an abundance of herbs, lots of freshwater fish and flavoursome soups made with thin strips of beef with rice noodles. “It’s slimming food,” he says with some enthusiasm. In Saigon, Rick visits the old stomping ground of his hero, author Graham Greene, and in Hanoi he meets up with a former employee who delights in the varied and delicious street food of Vietnam’s capital city.
Episode 3 – Thailand
Rick continues his odyssey in Thailand. For the ultimate in al fresco eating, Rick tries the night food stalls in the heart of Bangkok.
He also meets up with one of his heroes, David Thompson, a man who has devoted his professional life to understanding Thai cuisine. Later, Rick takes a train South to Phuket to learn the art of creating a hot and sour tom yum goong, the culinary icon of Thailand.
Episode 4 – Malaysia
Rick is spoilt for choice as he explores the multi-faceted food of Penang, an appealing mix of indigenous Malay, Indian and Chinese with a bit of British charm thrown in for good measure. He meets up with vibrant food writer, Fay Khoo, to discover the exceptional popularity of fish head curry in the region.
Episode 5 – Sri Lanka
Across the Indian Ocean, in Sri Lanka, Colombo, Rick meets Chef Publis, one the country’s most respected chefs, and tastes an unforgettable chilli crab in a small Tamil eatery.
Down in Galle, Rick discovers the delights of tea plantations and buffalo curd, and experiences firsthand the secrets of making cinnamon.
Back at home, he creates a delicious cashew nut curry to savour the memories of his time in Sri Lanka.
Episode 6 – Bangladesh
Rick ends his culinary tour in Bangladesh, the country that spawned thousands of ‘Indian’ restaurants in Britain years ago. Not surprisingly, curry is at the top of his list. Rick starts his journey in Dhaka, where he discovers the intricacies of making a true biryani. With fish being central to most Bengali dishes, he is invited for lunch by a local family to sample the country’s traditional dish of fish dampokht.
Heading North to Sylhet, Rick explores the city’s close links to British curry houses and visits a Khasi village close to the Indian border for an unforgettable pork and black sesame seed curry.
Catch Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey 6.30pm Monday to Saturday from Monday 23 April on Food Network (Channel 33). Missed an episode? Don't worry, catch up via SBS OnDemand.