Phlah kung (พล่ากุ้ง) was a fortuitous dish. There was some lemongrass left over from an earlier meal, and so in an earnest attempt to prevent food wastage, I flipped through Chef McDang’s book—now my trusted cooking bible—for some inspiration. I decided upon phlah kung because the recipe looked simple enough, never mind that I hadn’t eaten it before. (While not an obscure Thai dish, phlah kung is also not that common in local restaurants.)
Our dear friend, ZL, had given us a convection oven two years ago, which we nicknamed “Cockroach” because the red lid looks like a smiling cockroach with its arching handle and two big knobs. We never really thought of using it to cook pizza until Mr. P was struck by this latest bout of culinary inspiration.
I went hunting for Chinese soup spoons on Saturday but couldn’t find any that I like. Instead I found other things I like and which I think will be useful for my kitchen adventures: a purple-dotted placemat, a set of stainless-steel measuring spoons and a set of multi-colour measuring cups by Trudeau. I didn’t realise my new buys have circular motifs until I placed them on the table, and the shutterbug in me couldn’t resist taking some pictures. It’s circles, circles and more circles! ^^
For a period of time, I was in a smoothie phrase and I’d crave for a yoghurt shake after lunch each day. At the fruit juice stalls near my office, the mangoes always look soooo succulent and tantalising, so I often ended up ordering mango yoghurt smoothie at 35 baht a pop. While not overly expensive, I started to wonder if I should make my own mango treats instead.
Before living in Bangkok, I was only familiar with the typical Thai dishes that most tourists are acquainted with, like phat thai and tomyam, but somtam (ส้มตำ) is now one of my favourites. [Side note: Even the pineapple fried rice that many Singaporeans like---and associated as Thai food---isn't popular in Thailand or with the Thais themselves.] Many expats I know don’t seem to take to the taste of somtam very much and seldom venture beyond the classic Thai dishes that they like. Perhaps it takes a couple of tries to appreciate somtam, but I’m certainly addicted to somtam.
I finally bought a khrok (ครก) and saak (สาก), the Thai mortar and pestle. Mr. P and I have bee looking around for the perfect specimen around our neighbourhood until we found it in a little provision shop. The young, friendly shopkeeper allowed us to rummage through his entire stock of mortars and pestles until we found our perfect combination: a ceramic mortar that has an even reddish colouration, and a wooden pestle with a smooth finish and hue that matches the mortar. I’d already put my mortar and pestle to use by making my first somtam (papaya salad) last week but the resulting dish wasn’t too satisfactory. So I’m going to tinker with my new tool some more—look out for Xin’s somtam soon!
I’ve been eyeing Chef McDang‘s The Principles of Thai Cookery for the past few months and I’m glad I finally purchased a copy after much procrastination. Each time I visit an Asia Books store, I can’t help but pick this book off the shelf and flip a few pages to peek at the content inside. While a certain Michelin-star farang chef has produced an even thicker, heavier—and more expensive—tome on Thai cooking, but somehow I gravitated toward Chef McDang’s version. After all, he’s a celebrity chef who was raised in a Thai household—the palatial kitchen to be exact as he’s a descendent of the Thai royal family. Plus his father is also an esteemed chef and gourmand.