Durian season is almost upon us and I am ready. I am one of very few foreigners in Thailand that has loves durian. This affection was not immediate for when I first arrived in Thailand I found the smell of durian both overwhelming and repugnant. I can place a specific time when I began enjoying durian but I know I have loved it at least the last 5 years.
I recently had a chance to tour a Durian Farm in Isaan. You can view the tour below:
It's quite strange, durian smells quite bad ( I used to compare it to the smell of dog poop) but now that I like it I love the smell. But the smell has not changed, it is still banned in public places such as hotels, trains, even taxis. So just my perception changed.. I love durian!
There are three main varieties of durian, Monthong, Chanee and Kanyao. They all have there own distinctive smell and flavor. My personal favorite is the monthong, which admittedly is of mild flavor. The monthong seems to be quite popular with Thais as well. I will be honest though, I still can't tell them apart!
Durian starts being harvested in April and continues through August. There are seasonal variation due to the area within Thailand that the durian is grown and the variety of durian. Currently, there are durian on the streets but not monthong yet. I'll be waiting for it in May.
Eating Roti on the streets of Bangkok can be a warm tasty treat. Roti is a fried flat bread that is often served with many different fillings. The various roti vendors have different optional fillings such as fresh eggs, nutella, peanut butter, sugary condensed milk, and various syrups. My favorite is banana and egg, topped with condensed milk and a bit of sugar.
The Roti vendors are simple carts that crop up all over Thailand. So I recommend that you try one while walking off a great spicy Thai meal.
Thai hotpot dinners can be found many places on the street and in restaurants throughout Thailand. All you really need is a electric hotpot with variable temperature that will fit on your dinner table. With the right pot, Thai Suki is a quick and easy meal to make at home too. Basically, Thai Suki is a just a pot of boiling water that the right mix of herbs, vegetables and meats.
The hot pot base is made real easy because there are herb sets that contain lemongrass, ginger, lime, chilli and kaffir lime leaves. This spice set is really the base for several Thai soups, like tum zaap and tum yum. These items are chunked and placed into the pot along with a medium onion, also chunked. Bring water in pot to boil. with the exception of the onion these herbs are not for eating but only provide flavor.
There are many types of Thai Suki sauces available in Thailand. They are all fairly tasty. I suggest just trying any. I like to add lime and garlic to my sauce before using it for my Suki.
Really any type of tasty meats will do, including pork, chicken, beef and seafood. They should be chopped in bite sized pieces and placed on a plate waiting to be cooked in the pot. I personally like pork and you can easily buy pork thinly sliced just for the hotpot.
The most common vegetables used in the hotpots are cabbage, celery, corn on the cob, and various types of mushrooms. Be creative, any vegetable you enjoy in soups will do.
Time to Eat
Place all the meat and vegetables on plates on the table adjacent to the hotpot. Bring the base discussed above to a boil and add the vegetables and meat based on desire. Be creative. The boiling base will cook the meat and vegetables quickly. With chopsticks, remove the cooked items and dip into your sauce. Be careful for the food is very HOT! but very delicious.
Mama noodles are sour/spicy instant noodles found for sale everywhere in Thailand. They can be a quick tasty snack to hold you over until the next meal. BUT they can be quick healthy meal with very little effort.
Being 'instant noodles', Mama noodles are cooked with very little effort. Just add a cup of boiling water from your kettle, mix in the flavor packets and let stand for a minute or two and they are ready to eat. However, add some chopped fresh vegetables like red onion, tomatoes, carrots, Chinese celery and a half a can of tuna and toss well. Bam! You have a great fresh noodle salad.
Alternative ingredients: Any leftover meat you may have in your fridge, chopped. Also, most vegetables you like in other salads would also taste great with sour and spiciness of the mama flavor.
I finally know what to do with the remaining rice stuck to the bottom of the rice cooker pot after making rice for dinner. As we all do, you place water in the pot and let the pot stand until the rice loosens from the pot. I used to throw this rice away, then clean the pot. Last night, I thought it already looked close to jok so I drained the rice of the excess water. Added about a cup of water and put the pot back on the burner. Brought it to a boil then simmer. You can also add any leftover rice from the meal you may have.
While simmering, I placed a half table spoon of pork powder, a splash of soy sauce, and some leftover browned ground pork (really, any chopped meat) from the fridge and simmer until thickened. When thickened I threw in a half a medium sized red onion, simmered only for another minute or two just get the onion to sweat a little. Placed in covered container in the fridge for the morning. Finished!
In the morning, take out of fridge, place in bowl and microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Add vinegar and/or chilli to taste. Ready to eat!
In my travels in Isan I found that moot daeng kai is considered quite a delicacy. Moot Daeng are fairly large red ants that live in the leaves of trees and also their bite is quite painful. This makes the process of collecting the ant eggs very interesting.
The locals place a net at the end of a long bamboo pole and walk through jungle looking for the moot daeng nests. The nests are scooped up from high in the trees and placed in a basket. The basket is full of ants, ant eggs and leaves of the trees. Once there is a healthy supply of ants and eggs in the basket they are placed in a bucket with water. To separate the ants from the eggs, the leaves and branches are pulled out of the mix, bringing a healthy amount of ants with them. Then a string is dangled in the water and the ants hold on to the string and are removed from the bucket. This takes a bit of effort and the person removing the ants are bitten and it hurts. But the effort is rewarded with a sizable amount of delicious ant eggs ready to be cooked in various ways.
I have two different dishes with moot daeng, Larb Moot Daeng and boiled and salted. Both were delicious!
I developed this post to help Travelers coming to Thailand enjoy the fantastic food here. To help foreigners order a tasty and pleasurable Thai food on the streets of Thailand, I developed the list below of the most common and tasty foods found on the streets and in the small restaurants found all over Thailand. In each description, I have given the English equivalent of the Thai word for each food and a brief description.
As I advised in an earlier post, I would suggest any visiting Westerner not used to eating spicy foods to use one of the following two phrases (based upon your preference) when ordering food on the streets:
Common street food - The savory foods below can be found nearly everywhere on the street.
Rice - there are three main ways to order rice in Thailand:
Putting the soup names together with the noodle types is critical in getting what type of soups you want on the street. For example, one of my favorite is "tum yum moo ban mee nam" which is tum yum broth with pork and egg noodle.
• Khao niew mamuang (mango sticky rice)
• Khanom krok (custardy coconut confections)
• Kluay kaek (deep-fried bananas in a coconut batter)
• Nam Kang Sai (coconut milk with a variety of toppings and served with chipped ice)
Tum Zap is a common soup found on the street and in many Thai Restaurants throughout Thailand. The soup is sour with lime juice and can be quite spicy with chili. On the street it is often with pork rib and various vegetables. Quite delicious!
The food court is divided into 11 main areas to help you decide on the perfect dish for your mood:
There are several drink stations, and area that sells Thai groceries and a cooking school to teach you how to create your own tasty Thai dishes when you get home. A word of warning though there are a lot of choices and you might be a bit overwhelmed.
Sharing delicious foods right here in Thailand!
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