Southeast Asian Recipes Made by my Students


I have been thinking about how lucky I am to have taught my students for the past two years and it got me thinking about some of the successful and fun projects we did together. Yes, it was like pulling teeth with the way schools systems work, but when you try 20-30 times one is bound to work.

My favorite project was with the high school students. The idea was a little overzealous but once I had the idea no one could stop me. Thailand has really pushed for integration of ASEAN into the curriculum so I decided to merge it with my English classes and make it a cross-cultural section. Check out my post ASEAN Day at the High School: Cross-Dressing, Pop-Singing Fools for more info about ASEAN and why in the world it is important. My village students are rarely ever exposed to things outside their own culture so this was a great opportunity to challenge them and open their minds.

We completed the project over a 3-4 week time span. Each week I taught Wednesdays and Thursdays for 1 hour. During this time we worked on 4 different sections of the project and learning process: learning how to write a recipe, researching recipes from other ASEAN countries online, working together to translate and write our own simplified version of the recipes found, and last buying the ingredients from the market, making the food at home then bringing it in to present and share about it with the class. I get excited again just thinking about it.

I started with a lesson that taught recipes are lists of ingredients and instructions on how to make food. Together, as a class, we wrote an example of the famed Thai Papaya Salad that even 10 year olds can make. Next, I really wanted to expose my students to technology and how it can benefit us intellectually and academically so I scheduled time in the library to take my students down. We learned the basics about how to search for information on the web (presently, most people only use the web for games, Facebook, and YouTube. Few are aware of how it can benefit our knowledge) and looked up recipes from ASEAN countries (Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, and Thailand). They were not allowed to choose Thailand as their ASEAN country, but almost everyone tried to pull a fast one and do this. Student: “But teacher Julia, Laab Mu is really a Northeast Thailand food and they have it in Laos, too. Look.” — Julia, with a stern face, “No.” That’s how that went down.

Next, we worked for a week formatting the recipes into a simplified beginner’s English version with dictionaries and bilingual teachers (aka, me and Joy) on hand. We lost a week somewhere in there to Cleaning Day or Boy Scout day, I can’t remember, so when we jumped back on board I really wrangled my kids to remember to make their food at home in their chosen groups. Two class sections really fell off the band wagon, one class section bought Thai food from the market and thought I was born yesterday, but one class section blew me away with their presentations, diligence, work ethic and creativity. They were all just as excited as I was.

Here are the pictures. Sorry for the quality; I took them with my iPod touch on the fly.


Bruneian Rice and its 5-Star chefs.


This dish was completely empty by the end of class. Really tasty.


Vietnamese Spring Rolls with a couple Thai ingredient swaps.


Myanmar barbecued pork and its lovely chefs with their handmade sign.


Okay I had to let this one slide. They wanted to make an ASEAN dessert but ended up falling back on a Thai dessert favorite with sweet coconut milk and gelatin poured over crushed ice. Trust me, we still ate it, and their recipe page was adorable.


These guys rocked it. They were grilling pork on a school grill right outside the classroom and made a homemade Singapore dipping sauce to go with it. Wicked.


Barbecued Singapore Satay.


The girls goofing around.


Crock-Pot Style Laos Soup. Here you can see our colorful orange wall decor in the background, too.


Look at us! I feel like a proud mother there with my 10th grade class post-project. They all did so well!


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