My Thai kitchen secret

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My kitchen is a typically Thai – outdoors, protected from the elements, just a simple hot plate and no oven.

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As you can observe it is underused, which will be a surprise to those that know me as I love to cook. This is partly because I have got out of the habit due to a leaking roof during rainy season and psoriasis spreading to both hands. The main reason however is I don’t need to cook. So that is my Thai kitchen secret – I don’t cook much, and I’m not the only one either. Here is a typical street hawker on the streets on Bangkok. Why cook when an expert can do it for you – for just under £1 and over $1!?

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Thailand really is a cornucopia of street hawkers, eateries and daily markets feeding the nations 67 million population. From dawn till dusk, you are never far from a delicious and cheap offering of Thai yumminess. This sticky rice stall in party town Pattaya is open 24 hours and has been in business for 26 years…

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There really is little incentive to cook. To give you an idea, here is what I can buy from the market for 300baht ($10 or £6)…

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I do however have something for foodies reading and hoping to find some inspiration for a dinner party. Here are the people who are effectively my cooks. They are always very happy to see me as they know I love their food and they get repeat business of course. Plus I am a bit of a novelty as not many ferangs (foreigners) are seen at my local markets…

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So here are my favourites and is just the tip of the iceberg of what is available. All dishes featured here cost between 20 and 40 Baht (40 – 80p or 60c – $1.20). This is Mrs Kim and she makes Ho Mok Pla – a classic Thai fish pate with coconut and eggs, steamed in a cabbage lined banana leaf then topped with coconut cream. A bargain at 20 baht…

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Khanom Chip (Siu Mai) – Chinese dumplings. The green ones are a mix of prawn and pork, the yellow ones are pork and the black wraps are seafood. They are served them with chopped roasted garlic and chilli sauce. These are my favourites I have to admit. Seven for 20 baht.

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Naem Kluk – a real Thai comfort food full of calories and chilli heat, so I try not to have it too often. It’s a deep-fried rice and pork ball which is then crumbled in onions, coriander, peanuts, chillies, seasoning and fermented pork. I always take it home and cook the pork before eating.

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Another absolute Thai classic – Som Tam – green papaya salad. There are several variations depending on where you are in Thailand. This is Som Tam Thai – with peanuts and dried shrimp. I started at one chilli, now I am up to two – made fresh on the spot…

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My noodle lady – I only treat myself to this the night before I go hashing. I don’t know the name but its ribbon noodles stir fried on the spot, with morning glory, carrots and tofu. Chilli seeds and garlic are added according to taste..

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This lady has a number of Thai classics. Her Tom Kha Kai (Chicken coconut soup) is great – in Thailand they add liver and the chicken is kept on the bone. For this visit, I chose a pork and coconut curry with pea aubergine (eggplant). Again, I am not sure of the Thai name…

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I have two salad stall holders I visit – always fresh and delicious and I can choose what goes in that magic bag of healthy nutrition…

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There are of course less healthy choices which I can’t resist. This husband and wife team make their own pork sausages with a number of different fillings. If you have not tried pork sausages with pickled ginger, please do – they are an amazing combination and a very popular snack in Thailand…

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These BBQ skewers are another very popular snack and you often see vendors on the roadside selling them. The meat is usually chicken, pork or seafood and all have different names accordingly.

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As you can see, I am really spoilt for choice every time I go out…

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Unfortunately I have never been tempted by freshly prepared frog salad…

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When I wander around the markets, I always have a cup of fresh coconut juice. At only 10 baht (20p or 40c), it is the same price as water! Those coconut balls are another Thai favourite – Khanom Tom, and occasionally I indulge…

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For the cooks reading this, I do sometimes cook and I have the most wonderful ingredients to choose from. What is of course great about market shopping is that because each vendor specialises in one particular product, the quality is fantastic and consistent. Fruit and vegetables are fresh daily and here are some of the stalls I can go to when I do fancy a spot of cooking…

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I don’t even need to make my own curry paste — a basic in Thai cookery…

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The fields around my town are full of pineapples and I always buy mine from this lady. She never ever smiles – except, it seems, when I produce a camera. She thought this was hilarious …

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As I made my way to get my motorbike taxi home, everyone it seemed wanted to have their picture taken. This stall holder was feeling left out…

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… so too were these three at the Thai whisky vendor…

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Even the taxi drivers wanted to be included in this breaking story …

P1070856And so I was whisked back home to my empty Thai kitchen. At least the fridge is full though! More to follow on my Thai food experiences.

Footnote – the is what happened when I attempt to cook a few weeks later… tempered glass shatters. Absolutely no home cooking now!

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4 thoughts on “My Thai kitchen secret

  1. The only veg I recognised on sale were carrots,onions and tomatoes!! But doesn’t this go against all the advice about NOT eating anything from stalls?

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    • Hi Susie – yes, lots of great and sometimes unusual veg here. Not sure what advice you mean – I thought stalls and street markets had made a big comeback in “the West” re Farmers markets? Artisan made, organic and GM free etc. The food here is all of that. Risk adverse travellers/holiday makers that want to minimise the risk of potentially looking at bathroom tiling for a few hours may of course wish to follow conservative advice, but they will miss out on a great part of any culture – local food. As an expat of 10 years plus, I have learnt to condition my body to my environment, and that includes consuming local food and drinking filtered water. What my body consumes rarely needs to make a swift exit.

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