Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thailand


I just got back from spending two weeks in Thailand. One week was in Bangkok for work and one week in the south (Phuket area) for vacation. Let me tell you, the food was amazing. The thing that blew my mind the most about Thailand was the abundance of really fucking tasty morsels to put in my face. The place is freaking surrounded. There is always a place on the way to the sky train or a little street side market where you can stop for a minute and have a bite to eat. And it’s sooooooo cheap.  I don’t think there was one thing that I tasted that I didn’t like. When thinking about writing about this plethora of goodness, I became overwhelmed, head spinning like a top, “how can I capture the immense feeling of elation that I have experienced with all these bits of food shoved in my face and share it with my people???” Hence, I took a lot of pictures (see below). But I did want to touch on a few items that stood out for me in the sea of Thai food insanity.

The first off the charts thing that I ate was a coconut filled with seafood. There were prawns, crab chunks, and squid in a thick stew like coconut broth, topped off with slivered red peppers and Thai sweet basil. The “broth” was a bit confusing because it was very thick, but not quite like a sauce, as it had tasty, complex elements all on it’s own. I guess it was the crab chunks. It was one of those mysteries that didn’t matter to me a I began heaving all of it into my mouth. As the soup heats up the coconut, the interior flesh becomes very soft so you can actually scrape the inside of the coconut and grab a helping of this seafood wonderland WITH a chunk of hot, chewy coconut. Intense and amazing. The Thai people order in a style that is just to my liking. They pick about two or three dishes more than people at the table and just share everything. Perfect opportunity for me to try, try, try…..


Thailand is wonderful for the abundant street food scene. It’s so great to stumble home from a night out, find yourself on a tiny tin stool with a bowl of piping ramen so spicy it will blow your socks off, and then when it’s time to pay the bill, it’s 50 cents. I thought I was in some kind of version of heaven over there!! You can get everything on the street; from fresh juices, to fruits, pork satay with peanut sauce, meat balls…and those are just random street vendors. Once you get into the markets, it’s a whole new world of flavor. After perusing the aisles and aisles of fake designer clothing, crappy shoes, and souvenirs, there is usually an area that is dedicated solely to food. I had a crab mixture stuffed in a pastry dough and deep fried, sting ray, fish cakes, curry, meatballs with spicy sauce, pork bun, dim sum, chicken-blood filet-intestine soup, and some of the best steamed chicken that I have ever tasted. And that is just touching on a few of the highlights.

It’s so easy to eat for so cheap in Thailand, but I wanted to be able to recreate some of my favorite items since Thai food is not cheap at all here, so I took a cooking class!  I learned to make three of the classic Thai dishes; green curry, tom ka gai (coconut chicken soup), and tom yum goong (hot and sour prawn soup). Crazy thing about cooking Thai food….it’s not very hard at all. I was shocked by how little time and how easy it was to cook those three dishes. The complicated part about doing it here is finding the ingredients. Luckily, I live in San Francisco where Asian markets are bountiful, but I’m curious to know if anyone can find the ingredients anywhere. The most important ones are galangal, which I had never heard of but it looks like ginger root with a reddish tint, tiny chilis, lemon grass, and Thai sweet basil. There are some chili and curry pastes to make that stay good in your fridge for one month, and then throw it in a pan with some other stuff. So easy!!!! I’ll let y’all know how the at home version goes.

And go to Thailand!!!!!! Soooooo worth it!!!!!

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