February 11, 2007

The Land of Thai, Part 1

Since I began working, gone are the days of winter and summer breaks. I finally accrued a week’s worth of paid vacation time, so it was time to head back to the motherland. For exactly 11 days, with the help of my dearest mother chauffeuring me around and planning an island trip, I was able to squeeze in as much I could, food and all. It was a good thing I usually do not have new years resolution because if I had made one about eating less and healthier, my resolutions would have already been broken. As soon as I arrived, to my very pleasant surprise, my sister was still in Bangkok! Although she was supposed to depart from Bangkok the afternoon I arrived, there were some glitches with her paperwork, which fortunately (or not) extended her stay. My first meal did not involve the usual papaya salad due to family obligation of attending my little cousin Naime’s 6th birthday party; no pictures from the affair but I did enjoy some good chicken red curry with curds of pork’s blood and winter melon, which topped off kanom jean (hand form bundles of soft, round and white rice noodles served in Thailand usually with a variety of curries) and grilled cow’s tongue (I’m not quite sure why people are particularly fond of grilling those up but I guess it’s more for the texture than flavor).

My first dinner was a feast of royal Chinese traditions with my dad’s side of the family. After killing some time with light shopping at Siam Square with my mom and sister, we headed off to a family-owned and operated restaurant noted for its royal Chinese cuisine. One of my uncles took the liberty to order their set menu consisting of 7 courses. The dinner began on a disappointing note of some lackluster, cold appetizers. The next course got really interesting as they brought out stir-fried sea cucumbers with Thai basil, chili, garlic and minced pork. It was the first and only time I will ever try sea cucumber. The texture was jelly-like, and without the strong flavors of basil, chili and garlic, the sea cucumbers alone would have been tasteless.

The third course was the Chinese delicacy of the shark fin soup. The dish’s environmental and political correctness is debatable, but I still ate it anyway. My sister and I usually resist the dish because we don’t agree with shark fin hunting, but I took one for the food blog and had to try it to write about it. The soup was slightly thickened chicken broth, flavored with soy sauce, and had plenty of bits of shark fin. The protein came in a form of venison, Chinese-style, stir-fried with button mushroom, vegetable and chili. It basically just tasted like beef, nothing impressive. My favorite course of the entire meal was, of course, the Peking-style whole pig. The skin was crispy and beautifully brown, eaten on top of sliced white bread with sweet soy sauce. The remnants of the pig are cut up, and friend with some garlic. The other courses include steamed, whole fish with soy sauce and scallions, fried noodles, and sticky rice with taro and ginkgo nut for dessert. Last but not least, we polished off the meal with some very strong black tea to wash all the greasiness down.

The next day, my family and I made a trip to our old neighborhood for some papaya salad and grilled chicken. We ordered the usual Som Tum Thai, but it was unique because instead of plain peanuts, it was made with peanut brittle, which added to the sweetness of the palm sugar.

We also enjoyed Nua Namtok (spicy beef salad), Larb Moo (spicy minced pork salad), Tom Saab (spicy soup with pork tendons), and, my personal favorite, Ko Moo Yang. The grilled pig’s neck is known for its glorious fattiness, served with a delicious condiment of a sweet base with chili and fish sauce.

Here are some other offerings I enjoyed during my trip:

A breakfast in Bangkok--Jok, rice congee with minced pork, topped with ginger, cilantro, chili & vinegar and crispy Chinese donuts.

Green beef curry with Thai eggplant on top of crispy roti.

Nam Prik Ong--chili paste with tomato, garlic and minced pork, with pork rind and fresh vegetables.

Tom Yum Koong--hot and sour soup with shrimp and a splash of coconut milk.

That is all for this post, but there are many more pictures to come from my trip to the motherland!

Little Miss Contrary


suthidak said...

It's not only looks delicious,it tastes great too,I assured you!

tigerfish said...

Oh, look that all the food...and that big whole piece of sharks fin...I'm hungry now!