Since the obsession with cooking started, I’m starting to discover how terribly easy it is to recreate flavours of Singaporean/Malaysian dishes with instant food packages. Mr. P and I had already experimented with kangkung belachan, tom kha kai and buffalo wings, while last weekend saw me cooking up nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) with the aid of a ready-made paste, saving me the trouble of hunting for belachan (Malay shrimp paste).
It’s always hard to resist the fresh, lovely squids on offer at the Udomsuk market near home. There are squids of varying sizes and hues, nestling amongst baskets of crushed ice. With prices averaging around 180 baht per kilogram, squids—and other seafood—at this market are quite a good deal. Mr. P and I usually walk one round around the market to inspect the day’s offers before deciding on which stall to make purchases from.
Before visiting Vietnam, I’d read lots of raving accounts about Vietnamese coffee. Earlier this May, when Mr. P and I visited Saigon together with my folks, I of course made it a point to try the local coffee. We arrived to a scorching sun, and during our first outing to the Ben Thanh market, we stopped by a little roadside stall for drinks to quench our thirst. Perched on a stool beside a low table, I had my virgin taste of ca phe da, or iced Vietnamese black coffee. It was strong and flavourful, so unlike the watery versions often encountered in Bangkok and Singapore. Now I know why so many people sing praises of Vietnamese coffee. And for the subsequent three days in the city, I’d always order a cup of Vietnamese coffee for breakfast.
Mr. P used to call yoghurt “sissy food” because he claimed only girls like to eat this dairy food. But he’s now a yoghurt convert—how can he not be when he’s living with a yoghurt lover? ^^ For me, Thai lunches are sometimes not satisfying (I mean, portion-wise) so I usually down yoghurt as a healthy post-lunch snack to fill up the space in the tummy. At home I love stocking yoghurt in the fridge so there’s always something to eat when my hunger pangs strike. Last weekend, on the spur of the moment, I took a few mint leaves to garnish my cup of yoghurt, which made a pretty set-up and a good photo opportunity.
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.
I don’t know why I wasn’t really into picnicking when I was still in Singapore, where there are several lovely parks and ample greenery. But picnicking has definitely become a favorite activity of mine since I started living in Bangkok. (Seriously, Bangkok? With all the population and traffic jams and lack of green spaces?) Perhaps it’s the ease of doing an impromptu picnic in the city: Many parks offer mats for rent and there are always some street food carts fringing the parks peddling bite-size snacks.
“Just get a tennis racket and push the carrot cake through it,” quipped JT, referring to the plated of black chai tow kway we were sharing at Bedok 85 market during a recent visit back home to Singapore. Everyone burst into laughter at his remark.
Three days later, when we were about to leave Singapore for Bangkok, chai tow kway came to us in a mini radish-cake bolster, weighing 2.2 kg like a small sack of rice. It was a last-minute souvenir from JT, who wanted to share an edible slice, or rather, a block, of Singapore’s food culture with Mr. P.