Monday, December 19, 2011

Khao Moo Daeng

Thai’s love their rice they love anything on top of it. Khao, meaning rice, is their staple of their diets and they would probably not be able to live without it. One dish that I eat regularly here is Khao Moo Daeng, (ข้าวหมูกรอบหมูแดง) or Rice with red pork and sweet sauce. Its like out barbeque pork with a nice thick sauce and some mashed potatoes on the side, except Thai style. They take a nice piece of pork belly and marinate it in red pork seasoning, tons of garlic, cilantro, sugar and salt. Then sear both sides and place the whole thing in the oven with the sweet sauce covering it. The sweet sauce contains: brown sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and white wine. This pork becomes so sweet and so tender. Thai’s place this pork on top of some rice, poor the sauce over it and serve it with some pieces of cucumber, a boiled egg and green onions. The sauce is so sweet and the pork so moist making this dish is hard not to like. Its so easy to make and so cheap here. You can also get this dish with the many different intestines and parts of the pig. The many parts of the pig that Americans tend to not use are great pieces of meat with tons of flavors.  They will put liver, intestines, pig snout, pig ears and pretty much anything else you can think of. All of these things are something very different from what we are used to but they taste so good.  The snout is so gelatinous but sweet and the pigs ears stewed for hours to make them full of flavor. Khao moo daeng is my favorite unknown Thai dish that for them is a staple and for us: well we should pick up on their use of simple ingredients and introduce this to our diet for good. 
Everything tastes better at the Market

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Here in Thailand shellfish are one of the main contributors of protein and one of the tastiest options that you can choose. Every night at the market you can find the freshest shellfish with a sweet smell of the sea. My new favorite thing that I have found is cockles, or small, sweet little shellfish that look like hearts and taste amazing. In Thai they are hoi kap (หอยกาบ). These little guys come on a plentiful plate with a spicy green birds eye chili sauce. It’s always about the sauces. You pry open the shells to find a beautiful fleshy inside that tastes sweet like the sea but also has this meaty side to it to seem like they are giving you plenty of substance. They are saltwater clams that I’m sure are pulled from the sea that day and brought straight to the market for me to eat.  Every time I try a new kind of shellfish I just become more and more obsessed with them. They are so good, a fun hands on food and the sauces make them great.

Things on a STICK

Cooked octopus
Thai’s eat nearly everything on a stick. Whether they give you a bag of something and it comes with a stick or they cook the food right in front of you on the stick. Stick food to them is our hot dog. It is  easy to grab and go, cheap and has many varieties. You can get beef, pork, fish or chicken balls on a stick. You can get squid, octopus or baby squid on a stick.  You can get pretty much anything you want to fried on a stick. Basically, the list could go on and on. One of the main things you see on a stick is the many different varieties of hotdogs. Yes, that’s right hot dogs. Thai’s love their hot dogs. Big, small, cut up, fried, wrapped in wonton wrapper, wrapped in dough, another list that is never ending.  They take the dogs, skewer them and place them over an open coal or stick them into big vat of oil, making them very unhealthy and almost too greasy to handle. Thai’s love their sticks and putting their foods on sticks, but is this just a way for fast food, or a part of their culture.

Fish balls
To me this food item is so prevalent in the food world of Thailand that it is something that will never be lost. It is here to stay and the Thai’s love the simplicity of their seemingly disgusting processed meats on a stick. As for me, I can’t really do it too often. Yes, the hot dogs taste good, the squid is nice and tender and the meatballs full of flavor. But I always finding myself wondering what the HELL it is I’m eating and why I am so inclined to do so. Sometimes in the stick foods you find mystery crunchy bits, which I assume to be cartilage or what I hope to be a large piece of some sort of spice. Things on a stick are such a staple here, but for me, they are not.

Fried hotdogs and everything else

The thing that is so special about everything on a stick is the spicy chilies sauce that comes with each different stick. Each vender makes his or her own sauce, and it shows. This is where the flavor is in the sticks and this it what draws me back to them every now and them. Thai’s sit and simmer a mixture of sugar, water, chilies and fish sauce to make a wonderful, spicy sauce to accompany the sticks. These sauces are the best! I want them to put over rice, dip in crackers and basically just eat it with a spoon.

Food on a stick feast
The Thai culture loves their food on a stick, something that I will never understand. But the one thing that I do understand are their sauces, and man are they good! A stick without a sauce is like a hotdog without mustard. It just plain sucks and isn’t even worth eating.

Durian- The stinky fruit

All over Asia you will find signs saying no durian allowed, or simply a picture of a durian fruit with an X through it. Durian or Thurien (ทุเรียน) is thought to be one of the most offensively smelling fruits in the world. People all around don’t allow it in their places of business. They find the smell of durian to be something like rotting cheese and sticky feet. It lingers into the air and makes you feel like you have never smelled anything worse. Though, durian in Thailand is a bit milder then ones that you may find up north. Here is still has a strange odor, one that is undeniable. Its smell wafts into the air and stings your nose. The fruit is hard and spiky on the outside.  It looks like an oblong weird old football. Once you open it you can see that there are small pockets holding the flesh of the fruit, each one with a seed in the middle. Durian has the consistency of creamy custard with the taste of a smelly cheese. It is served hot and in some ways melts into your mouth. You have to pick up the whole “pod” and suck off the fleshy part. Durian resembles a smelly, very soft cheese that for some reason people do truly enjoy. I didn’t really love the fruit but didn’t hate it either. One try was enough for me but I didn’t really see all the hype of how terribly bad it was or how people puke trying it. Durian is a mysterious fruit with a bad name that only seems to make it taste even worse.


Satay with sticky rice
Sunset at the market
Everywhere throughout the city you will find small skewer stands serving their idea of marinated chicken or pork skewered onto a stick and then cooked over open coals. These skewers are also called satay, which can be found all over Asian cooking or in Thai Mu/Gui Ping (หมูปิ้ง). Each skewer tastes different because it is up to the cook as to what it is marinated with. Many of them tend to be marinated in soy sauce, sugar, and fish sauce. They are some of the cheapest street food here and for good reason. For about 5 baht you get one tiny skewer of meat that you eat like an animal off of the stick. Many people also opt for the bag of sticky rice on the side to make it a well-balanced Thai meal, protein and some broken down carbohydrates. The satay here tastes great and for many people is an easy grab and go breakfast or lunch item.