In our quest to acquire good-quality dried squid for Mae, we decided to check out Paknam Market (ตลาดปากน้ำ) in Samut Prakan, just a 30-minute drive from our place and where the Chao Phraya River meets the Gulf of Thailand. Although we arrived quite late (around 10am) and activities were already winding down, hordes of workers were still hard at work at the unloading area; some workers were selecting and picking fish into baskets as fast as the catch was transferred to land, while a couple others were mending fishing nets.
We then popped over to the fresh market and I became more excited with each step I took. Outside, cars, pick-ups, taxis and the occasional tuk-tuk thronged the narrow one-way street, while inside the entire market was abuzz with sellers and buyers, and trucks and trolleys piled high with styrofoam boxes constantly barreled down the wet corridors (note: non-slip shoes are a must here). Much bigger than the usual fresh markets in Bangkok, the vast market was filled with an extraordinary array of fresh produce and seafood. Sellers were all smiles and quick to sing praises of their produce whenever we stopped to peruse the items on sale or take photos with our mobile phones.
Among the warrens of stores, there were fist-sized promfret lookalikes, which a vendor insisted make yummy dishes when deep-fried; crystalline crayfish lined up in neat rows; gleaming fish roes, a stall that sells only squid and octopuses, and even stingrays made an appearance here. I also learned more specific names of the various seafood types on display—whisker squid anyone? Furthermore, prices were clearly displayed and cheaper than the fresh markets I usually frequent, so I foresee we will be making more trips to Paknam Market to stock up our fridge in future. Meanwhile, I’m already dreaming of seafood grilling sessions in the great outdoors!
Off to the market I went today, and I came home with various shades of yellow. The phak kwaang tung were singing to me again; the corns are joining the cabbages and carrots for tomorrow’s soup; Thai market vendors sell pumpkins according to the weight requested; and fried wontons make good company with clear tom yam soup.
I’m definitely not the most disciplined person around when it comes to blogging—and dieting—but in order to make my food scribblings more consistent on this space, I decided to feature on-the-go photos taken with my iPhone and add them to this space. I’ve amassed a lot of photos in the tiny device, so I hope to pen down some of the culinary inspiration that strikes me whenever I’m out and about in a new section called “Food Cubes”.
Kai yang Wichian Buri | Kai yang (grilled chicken) is a Thai staple, but the district of Wichian Buri in Petchabun province has rose to fame by being associated with the grilled birds, so much so that many kai yang stalls will declare their style as Wichian Buri. Just a stone’s throw from our apartment in Bangkok lies one of the most superb kai yang vendors we have tried. The grill fashioned from an used oil tin and corrugated zinc may not make the most appealing setting, but the smoked birds that come out from this stall are just yummy.
Coconut ice-cream | Coconut desserts are aplenty in Thailand, but coconut ice-cream remains my favourite. I was walking the talaat nat (makeshift market) in the neighbourhood one evening when I had a sudden craving for coconut ice-cream, so I bought one and enjoyed 10 minutes of heaven as I browsed the stalls.
Khanaeng | I first tasted khanaeng, or cabbage sprouts, at our favourite neighbhourhood restaurant, and since then I’ve found these vegetables the size of a child’s fist at the local fresh market and learned to replicate the same dish at home. How not to love these Brussels-sprout lookalikes, especially after they are stir-fried with minced pork, chillies and a liberal dose of Shaoxing wine?
Eggs | Interestingly, eggs are one of the most sensitive markers of rising expenses in Thailand. In the six months since I moved back to Bangkok, the prices of eggs at the local market have been constantly inching up. The smallest and biggest eggs at the market used to cost 38 baht and 41 baht respectively just earlier this year, now the prices are hovering between 41 baht and 44 baht. Inflation—it’s happening everywhere.