March 10, 2007

The Land of Thai, Part 2

It's been too long since my last post, but I must blog about the rest of my culinary adventures in the motherland. One of the things I miss for breakfast in Thailand is kao tom or rice porridge. The thing I most enjoy about it is that you have a variety of side dishes, or kub kao, to eat with the porridge. My personal favorite must be my grandma's steamed minced pork with broth, or moo nuung. Eating it was so nostalgic; I was reminiscing about my childhood in Bangkok when my grandma used to have to run around and feed me, or distract me to eat while I pretend to do the dishes. Anyway, this time around I willingly sat down to have porridge breakfast with moo nuung, and a variety of small sides--salted egg, soy fermented tofu (tasty stuff!), preserved Chinese cabbage, and pork sung.

Side note: I have a random story about pork sung. On my flight back from Bangkok, one the meals that was served on the plane was breakfast and I had chosen the Chinese-style option, which was with porridge. One of the things that came with the meal was a packet of pork sung; however, on the packaging, it said that it was "pork floss"! I wouldn't necessarily associate pork and floss together, but it's just funny when some Chinese items are translated into English.

Anyway, back to Thailand. My mom, as usual, drove me around every where. Ironically, I don't particularly enjoy the offerings of McDonald's stateside, but one of the things that I always have to eat when I'm back in Thailand is the Pineapple Pie! The pie "crust" is ultra crispy and always piping hot; the filling has small chunks of sweet pineapple. On another excursion, my mom and I went to a bustling shopping spot of Soi Lalaisup, which literally means the street to dissolve your wealth. Also know as Khang Bank (because it is physically next to the Bangkok Bank), it is always busy with various food, clothing and miscellaneous vendors.

By the food court area, there is a lady whose vendor has a large selection of various Thai desserts. From coconut kanom, or sweets, like tah koh (right corner of the picture), and sweet sticky rice with banana and black beans wrapped in banana leaves, to the large pot full of diamond-shaped sweet bean dessert. But my all time favorite has to be kanom quey, or literally green sweets (they're in the tray closest to the vendor's hands). A couple of vendors away was the banana lady who had all sorts of, what else, bananas! She had peeled, grilled banana, barbecued banana, and, of course, banana with coconut milk. The Thai bananas are slightly smaller and more stubby than the ones we see in American supermarkets, but they are equally if not more tasty.

Since I had such a limited time in Thailand, my mom (always the tour guide) arranged for she, my dad and I to travel to Trung for a few days. After a one-hour flight from Bangkok, we arrived to the southern province. A local tour guide picked us up from the Trung Airport and was kind enough to make a short detour downtown for us to pick up the province's famous moo yang, or grilled pork. We stopped at a corner shop, which looked like an old coffee shop. The moo yang vendor faced the street, luring in customers by the hunks of meat!

Check out the killer knife and the ginormous piece of pork! The meat is liberally seasoned with a sort of sweet and sticky marinade and grilled until the generous amount of fat has formed into a nice crust. After picking up more than a kilo of moo yang (my dad was greedy!), we finally made our way over to a pier to take a boat over to the island. Koh Sukorn, which means Pig Island in Thai, is located off the shores of Trung about a 30-minute boat ride with a handful of surrounding smaller islands.

Since it wasn't during the peak, tourist season, my mom, dad and I were the only ones at the small resort on the north side of Koh Sukorn. We stayed in a bungalow (a couple of pillows, sleeping cushions, basic amenities, running water, and electricity from 7pm to 7am), which was barely 20 steps from the beach. We had an amazing snorkeling tour guide, and probably the best snorkeling I have ever experienced in Thailand. The folks running the resort were locals on the island, and they made every single meal just for the three of us! Our last dinner on the island was a seafood feast--crabs, steamed whole fish, grilled squid, seafood Poh Tak (hot and sour seafood soup, similar to Tom Yum Koong) and seafood fried rice.

In Bangkok, it is not easy to find roti vendors so whenever we travel out of town, like this trip to Trung, I always have to cure my cravings of roti. Roti is essentially very thinly hand-rolled dough, fried in a large skillet with oil AND margarine to a crisp brown, then removed from the heat and dressed with drizzles of sweetened condensed milk and sugar. Does that sound indulgent enough for you? It's probably one of my favorite sweets ever since childhood. Most roti are simply rolled up in paper and eaten on the go; some people like it with banana or even eggs cooked inside the roti. I usually enjoy mine plain or with banana. I would kill for a roti right now.

And I shall leave you with a few more random photographs of the rest of my trip to the motherland.

Kao soi, a Nothern Thai speciality, consists of egg noodles and coconut curry and either minced pork or beef, topped with a variety of toppings such as crispy noodles, diced red onion, preserved Chinese cabbage, ground chili, and lime juice.

Some Thai instant noodles at the Taipei International Airport on my transit back to San Francisco. The lady at the restaurant inside the terminal was nice enough not only to fill my cup of noodles with hot water but also gave me a bowl and chopsticks.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of one of my meals on the plane. This one wasn't as bad as it looks. Steamed rice with minced pork and gravy, along with the usual dinner roll and fruit. The calamari and rice vermicelli salad was actually decent and the mochi was not bad of a dessert at all. Although I still mostly avoid airplane food and stick to my Thai instant noodles or whatever I manage to sneak in my carry-on luggage.

Coming soon: Little Miss Contrary & Mr. Tall's culinary adventures in and out of the kitchen!

Little Miss Contrary

1 comment:

tigerfish said...

Hi, found you in tastespotting. Reading through your posts and found that you like Trader Joes too! Hope you are enjoying every bit of Thailand. Food looks delish!