Allergies and South East Asia

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1. Posted by johnners83 (Budding Member 3 posts) 20w Star this if you like it!

Hi,

I am planning on spending a few months travelling through Asia on my way to Australia. Currently I am planning to spend most of my time in South East Asia, mainly Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

My concern is that I suffer from an allergic reaction to fish and it looks like this will be a solo trip.

I know that fish sauce is used widely in South East Asian cuisine, but I don't want to have to spend my time looking for western restaurants, I'd rather choose eating bland food over that.
My main question would be would it be easy for me to avoid fish and fish sauce in this area?
Or has anyone else done a similar trip in this area with the same problem that could give me some advice?

Thanks for any advice,
Johnners

2. Posted by Teoni (Respected Member 584 posts) 20w 1 Star this if you like it!

You literally could not pick the worst three countries for your exact problem Though I do wonder have you ever tried fish sauce? I only query because as I understand it fermented milk is tolarable to those with lactose allergies so I can't help wonder if a similar principle could go with fish sauce¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (considering it is fermented fish)

Anyway pointless wonders aside, the best thing you could do is learn how to ask in the local languages "is there fish sauce in..." and if you don't know the dish name, either point to dish or dish name on menu. Obviously know the words for yes and no in the local languages too It also wouldn't hurt to read up on the most common recipes you will find dining out in those countries.

I'm pretty sure Vietnamese rice paper rolls as long as you don't dip it in the sauces should be fish sauce free along with most deep fried foods that are also designed for dipping. Also those sandwiches called Bánh Mì again make sure they don't put sauce and that should be a pretty safe bet. Bánh Xèo pancakes is another where sauce is added after cooking. You could say the general rule is as long as it is not cooked in sauce you probably will avoid fish sauce. And if you see the words Nuoc Cham avoid It is a really popular fish sauce laden dipping sauce in Vietnam. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the cuisines of Cambodia and Laos to give any recommendations.

[ Edit: Edited on 24-May-2018, at 07:09 by Teoni ]

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2070 posts) 20w Star this if you like it!

You can Google up "I am allergic to fish sauce and all seafood and can die!" in the language needed for the country you are in. Print this up but maybe test the phrase on local restaurants run by Vietnamese, Laotians and Thais before you leave home.

I do see this same question on other travel forums. If you immediately drop dead or get seriously sick might be a decider for me. Get a little sick and get fixed quickly maybe chance it! Drop dead immediately I would limit where I visit!

Other countries other than those in Asia may have some of their own fish sauce some traditional recipes.

Good luck.

[ Edit: Edited on 24-May-2018, at 13:28 by karazyal ]

4. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1868 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

-snip-

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds and KFC are often OK as they use set products worldwide and no using cheapo ingredients.

Avoid any sauces on food, as in plain burger and fries.

[ Edit: Unnecessary racial generalisations ]

5. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 402 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Cyberia

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds and KFC are often OK as they use set products worldwide and no using cheapo ingredients.
Avoid any sauces on food, as in plain burger and fries.

I do appreciate that could be the difference between life and death, but personally I'd take the risk rather than have to eat McDs or KFC.
Awful stuff...

6. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1868 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Why do people look down their nose at "fast food"? A hamburger for instance has been shown to be a balanced meal and not many calories.

If you are complaining on vegetarian or vegan grounds, that is an unhealthy lifestyle which can cause cancers, heart attacks, strokes, etc. Google it.

7. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1081 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Cyberia

Why do people look down their nose at "fast food"? A hamburger for instance has been shown to be a balanced meal and not many calories.

The comment was perhaps more against the food practices of McD and KFC rather than about burgers generally. I'm sure it's possible to buy a good hamburger from a decent outlet that is constructed using quality ingredients but personally I'd rather not patronize McD's or KFC.

8. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1199 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Sometimes when the travelling is hot, uncomfortable and alien I enjoy McDonald's as an oasis. Familiar safe food, aircon, decent toilets, wifi. And cheap.

9. Posted by Sarahelainecp (Inactive 34 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

If you have access to a library, could you get hold of a couple of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laos cook books? That might give you some dishes to look out for. If you can try local food without hurting yourself I'd want to do that rather than exclusively McDonalds - not because there's anything wrong with it, just because food is central to culture, so I understand why you'd want to aim local. Although I'm lucky not to have allergies. Vietnam does great baguettes - ban mi - those might be a good bet if you can learn "no sauce please"? And the rice based desserts should be fine, so at least there's that :)

10. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 402 posts) 19w 1 Star this if you like it!

Quoting Cyberia

Why do people look down their nose at "fast food"?

I don't look down my nose at fast food, but If the option is Asian fast food/street food or a burger, you'd have to be pretty disinterested in food to opt for the burger.

[ Edit: Edited on 02-Jun-2018, at 01:50 by Andrew Mack ]