A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Damn Spicy

Posted date:  March 12, 2008

Khanom jeen and naam yaa plaa at a stall near Lamai Beach, Ko Samui

After several days on Ko Samui, I officially have no more reason to bitch about the lack of local eats. While staying on Lamai beach I discovered a stall at nearby Talat Dao that sells a variety of khanom jeen, curries served over fresh rice noodles.  This is possibly the most common dish in southern Thailand, and is served at all times of day or night. Khanom jeen can also be got in other parts of Thailand, but what makes it different down here are the types of curries served and the toppings. Southern Thais like their chili heat, and the innocent looking, typically yellowish curries you’ll see here are some of the spiciest in the country. The one pictured above is called naam yaa plaa (pictured above), and is a fish and coconut milk-based curry particular to the south. As with all types of khanom jeen, when you order you’ll simply get a shallow bowl with a handful of noodles and a ladleful of curry. It’s your job to top it with the fresh herbs and veggies held in vast trays on the tables. These herbs typically include a couple kinds of basil, young cashew nut leaves, phak chee lawm (an herb almost identical to flat leaf parsley, pictured above) cucumbers, long beans and a couple types of pickled veggies. It’s all for free and you simply take what you like, rip it all up and mix it into your noodles.

Another very southern type of khanom jeen is kaeng tai plaa, literally ‘fish kidney curry’:

Kaeng tai plaa at Lamai Beach, Ko Samui

I think this curry, which also includes crispy bamboo, grilled fish, long beans, and a type of sweet potato-like local tuber, is about the spiciest thing humans were meant to consume. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also extremely salty.  After eating it I was still feeling the burn a good 20 minutes later. Honestly though, it wasn’t all that unpleasant. Have you ever eaten anything so spicy you actually felt a bit… well, high?

5 Comments for Damn Spicy

There was this one curry I made that called for a full cup of dried birds chilies in the paste. It made no mention of any coconut milk or stock to dilute it any; Just fry the paste in oil and then add beef. I thought something must of been wrong there, but I had to try it because seemed so outrageous. In the end I used about a third of the chilies and it ended up being delicious, but still incapacitating. Something you get a small bite of and then take a 10 minute break before you go at it again.

yes, high. the hottest thing i ever ate — a brick-red Gambian fish soup that was translucent in the top third because it was all chili oil, and almost solid below from the rest of the chilis — put me in an altered state for almost 12 hours. (after the pop-out sweats and the feeling like the top of your head has torn off and is currently passing Saturn.) the altered state turned out to be a good thing as, when i came to, i discovered the whole inside of my mouth was finely but completely blistered over. of course i would do it again…

yes! i know the feeling. i got it at lotus of siam in las vegas, nv. they ask you how spicy you want your food on a scale of 1-10. we chose 9.

woah. crazy, crazy, crazy spicy. and it definitely altered my state of mind. no doubt about that. kind of makes me want to cook something insanely spicy this weekend.

That high you get after eating spicy food is your endorphins kicking in! Truely – I only found that out a few days ago when researching how to get endorphins doing their thing and apparently they get all excited from chilli. It beats extreme sports any day!

The sweet potato-like is Thai pumpkin which pretty different from the pumpkin you make Jack-O’-lantern for Halloween. It’s flatter, the meat is thicker, and the skin is green not orange. You can see a picture here.
Glad to know you really enjoy Thai food, my favorite food.

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