A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.


Monthly Archives: August 2008



Chinatown, August 1, 2008

Posted at 10pm on 8/1/08 | read on
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A resident of Bangkok's Chinatown in front of his home

A resident of Bangkok’s Chinatown in front of his home

Barber shop in Bangkok's Chinatown

Barber shop in Bangkok’s Chinatown 

Th Yaowarat, the main street in Bangkok's Chinatown

Th Yaowarat, the main street in Bangkok’s Chinatown 

Along Th Charoeng Krung, Bangkok's Chinatown

Along Th Charoeng Krung, Bangkok’s Chinatown 

A tea vendor in Bangkok's Chinatown

A tea vendor in Bangkok’s Chinatown 

Checking out Buddhist amulets in Bangkok's Chinatown

Checking out Buddhist amulets in Bangkok’s Chinatown 

For entire photoset go here.

In transit

Posted at 6pm on 8/11/08 | read on
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 A bowl of khao soi at Lam Duan, Chiang Mai

Am currently in northern Thailand, where khao soi (pictured above) has been flowing through my veins for the last few days.  Will follow up soon with exciting, action-packed dispatches from Lampang, Sukhothai and elsewhere…

Khun Manee

Posted at 5am on 8/13/08 | read on
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Khao taen, rice cakes drizzled with palm sugar, Khun Manee, Lampang, Thailand

Khun Manee is a respected maker of khao taen (pictured above), rice cakes that are deep-fried and drizzled with palm sugar, in Lampang, a city in northern Thailand that is known for the sweet.

To make khao taen, sticky rice (both the white and ‘black’ varieties) is steamed then mixed with watermelon juice. This gives the rice a slightly pink colour and sweet flavour. The still soft rice is then pressed into rings:

Pressing sticky rice into molds to be made into khao taen, rice cakes topped with palm sugar, Khun Manee, Lampang, Thailand

and the cakes are then left in the sun to dry, which I was told usually takes a couple days, depending on the weather:

Drying sticky rice to be made into khao taen, rice cakes topped with palm sugar, Khun Manee, Lampang, Thailand

When sufficiently dry, the cakes are deep-fried. Khun Manee does this herself:

Deep-frying sticky rice cakes to be made into khao taen, rice cakes topped with palm sugar, Khun Manee, Lampang, Thailand

The cakes puff up amazingly fast, and a batch is done in less than 15 seconds.

The rice cakes are allowed to cool, then they are drizzled with a mixture of warm palm sugar, sesame seeds and a tiny bit of salt:

Drizzling khao taen, deep-fried sticky rice cakes, with palm sugar, Khun Manee, Lampang, Thailand

Khao taen were probably the first Thai sweets I ever tried (I was a student in Chiang Mai where they’re also popular), and are still among my favourite, although I usually prefer the kind topped with sugarcane sugar. Nonetheless, I still downed a (rather large) bag of Khun Manee’s in 1 1/2 sittings.

Khun Manee (Google Maps link)
35 Th Ratsada, Lampang
(054) 312 272

Cutting board meatballs

Posted at 5am on 8/14/08 | read on
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Look chin khiang, 'cutting board meatballs', at Lampang's night market

It was at Lampang’s night market that I first came across look chin khiang, ‘cutting board meatballs’ (shown above). Several vendors were selling them, and just about everybody was eating them. Initially I was impressed by their size–roughly equivalent to a child’s fist. But I also really loved how they were served. After being grilled:

Look chin khiang, 'cutting board meatballs', grilling at Lampang's night market

the gigantic meatballs were served with a steak knife, the porcine cutting board shown above, and a sweet bottled-tasting sauce. Unskewer, cut, dip and eat.

They tasted about as good as they look.

Phitsanulok, August 16, 2008

Posted at 12am on 8/16/08 | read on
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Woman yakking on a mobile phone while praying at a Buddhist temple in Phitsanulok, Thailand

Guess it wasn’t that important of a prayer.

Here’s the same woman again, still yakking on her mobile phone, while coming out of the temple–one of Thailand’s most sacred:

Same woman still yakking on mobile phone while coming out of a temple, one of Thailand's holiest, Phitsanulok

Just curious, in the country where you’re reading this, do people talk on mobile phones while in mosque/synagogue/church? One sees it here quite often.

Primitive photography

Posted at 2am on 8/18/08 | read on
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A camera obscura image of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Lampang, Thailand

Definitely an pic that requires a bit of explanation…

The above is a camera obscura image of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, a 700-year old temple compound outside the northern Thai city of Lampang. On the grounds of this temple is tiny elevated room with a small hole in the door. A white sheet hangs inside, and the light projected through the hole creates the (upside down) image shown at the top. For some reason, women are not allowed in this particular part of the temple.

Here’s what the temple looks like:

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Lampang, Thailand

For larger version of this image, go here.

I put my camera on a tripod and used a 15 second exposure (at ISO 400, f/4.5) to get the pic at the top. Would be fun to put a piece of photographic paper in place of the sheet; I’ll bet the colours and textures would result in a fascinating image, perhaps something like this:

Lampang’s evening market

Posted at 4am on 8/18/08 | read on
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Grilled chilies, shallots and garlic, essential ingredients to make nam phrik num, Lampang's evening market

I’ve been in northern Thailand for two weeks now, but Lampang is as far north as I’ve made it. As one goes further south within phaak nuea (northern Thailand), the language, culture and food become more like those of central Thailand, so Lampang was really my only chance to get my hands on good, authentic northern-style Thai food.

Luckily it’s a pretty good place to do this. There aren’t too many restaurant serving local food, but the city’s night market is terrific, although everything is take-away only. Luckily the folks at Riverside Guest House were kind enough to let me use their dishes.

It was very wet when I was in Lampang, and the market had lots of rainy season goodies such as bamboo:

Wet season treats bamboo and mushrooms for sale at Lampang's evening market

and mushrooms:

Wet season mushrooms at Lampang's evening market

Typical of northern Thai markets are the pre-portioned bundles of veggies and herbs for the various soups and curries. The one below is to make kaeng khae, the famous northern Thai herb-laden soup:

A pre-bundled mixture of herbs and veggies to be used in kaeng khae, a northern-style soup,  Lampang's evening market

This woman made one of the best kaeng hangleh (a Burmese-style pork curry) I’ve had:

Serving up northern-style curries at  Lampang's evening market

And the pic at the top of the post? The chilies, garlic and shallots will be peeled then pounded up with fish sauce to make naam phrik num, the famous northern Thai chili ‘dip’.

Likay

Posted at 1am on 8/20/08 | read on
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A performer waiting to go onstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

A performer waiting to go onstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.  

While in Kamphaeng Phet I was lucky enough to come across a performance of likay. Lucky because there’s not a whole lot to do in Kamphaeng Phet and also because likay is incredibly photogenic. Likay is, (taking from the upcoming Lonely Planet Bangkok) ‘a colourful mixture of folk and classical music, outrageous costumes, melodrama, slapstick comedy, sexual innuendo and sociopolitical commentary’. It’s quite a bit like ngiw, the Chinese drama which I’ve shown here previously.

The light was very irregular and it was at night, so I shot everything at ISO 800, the first time I’ve really shot that high with any of my cameras. The results seem to have come out OK, with less noise than I expected, and I actually kinda like the contrasty, saturated look of the images. I didn’t get too many pics of the actual performance, as I found the backstage action a lot more interesting.

Getting reading for a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

Getting reading for a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.  

Musicians playing at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

Musicians playing at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.

Getting reading for a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

Getting reading for a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.  

Performing and offstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

Performing and offstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.  

Performers waiting to go onstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

Performers waiting to go onstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.  

Getting reading for a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

Getting reading for a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.  

Performers waiting to go onstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet

Performers waiting to go onstage at a likay performance, Kamphaeng Phet.  

Hot off the presses!

Posted at 10pm on 8/24/08 | read on
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Lonely Planet Bangkok Lonely Planet Thailand's Islands & Beaches

Several months’ work has finally taken a tangible form. Lonely Planet’s Bangkok, which I co-authored with Andrew Burke, and Thailand’s Islands & Beaches, of which I wrote several chapters including Food, have finally been printed.

Buy them at Lonely Planet or Amazon.

Hot off the presses!

Posted at 10pm on 8/24/08 | read on
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Lonely Planet Phuket Encounter  Lonely Planet Ko Samui Encounter

In addition to the previously-mentioned writing work, I did the photos (but not the covers) to two new Lonely Planet guides, Phuket Encounter and Bangkok Encounter.

Buy them at Lonely Planet or Amazon.