Khaao yam (ข้าวยำ) and naam buuduu (น้ำบูดู), now where should I begin? It goes back to 2008, when a Thai colleague mentioned in passing that khaao yam, a Southern Thai rice salad, was her favourite Thai food. At that time I had just started living in Thailand and I was beginning to taste my way around Bangkok and Thailand. I didn’t manage to try the dish then, but the name stuck in my head.
Mr. P and I adore mushrooms in all shapes and sizes, from portobellos (expensive in this region) to enoki (goodle needle mushrooms) to Narcissus canned mushrooms and anything in between. It’s the only food that we perennially stock up at home because any mushroom gets eaten as quickly as it pops up in our fridge.
Have you ever wondered why flowers are not really included in the human diet? Do flowers look better than they taste? When did our ancestors realise that some flowers are delicious to eat while some others taste yucky? These questions popped up in my mind when I learned about dork khajon (ดอกขจร), otherwise known as milkweed flower or cowslip creeper flower. I never knew of their existence before but after seeing them displayed in Thai supermarkets and fresh markets, I became curious about this particular type of edible flower. Curious, I googled more about them and found out that cowslip creeper flower is common in Thai and Southeast Asia cooking.
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.)
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.
Two months after getting an iPad, I finally bought a one-year digital subscription to Martha Steward’s Everyday Food. I like this magazine because it’s very reasonably priced (US$12 for 10 digital issues—way cheaper than getting a hard copy from the local newsstand), the recipes are simple and the food styling is great. This shall add to my list of food inspiration sources.
While flipping through the August issue, one dish particularly stands out: green beans* salad with tomatoes, olives and eggs. With vivid greens, yellows, purples and reds randomly mixed in a bowl, the entire dish looks soooo appetising. Plus these American recipes often use ingredients that are either rather expensive or hard to find here, so I was thrilled to see this dish as French bean is easily found in this part of the world.