A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.


Posted date:  February 20, 2009

Shan-style deep-fried donuts at Mae Hong Son's morning market

The bloggers at EatingAsia recently pointed out that northern Thais love their meat. This is certainly true, but I’d also add that they love their oil just as much. Deep-frying is something of a cult in northern Thailand, and Mae Hong Son is no exception. I’ve never eaten so many deep-fried foods as I have in the last month, in particular for breakfast, a meal for which I’d almost totally avoided deep-fried foods — up to this point at least.

But let me start at dessert. The donuts above are called khanom wong (’round sweets’), and are deep-fried rings of sticky rice dough that are dipped in sugarcane syrup, the making of which can also be seen at this EatingAsia post. Unfortunately I’ve yet to find them served hot from the deep-fryer, and haven’t really enjoyed them.

Deep-fried foods can be taken at lunch or dinner too. Sticky rice and nam phrik (chili-based ‘dips’) are the staple foods of northern Thailand, and are typically eaten with deep-fried meats:

Choosing deep-fried meats to eat with nam phrik and sticky rice, Mae Hong Son's morning market

These can range from deep-fried chicken heads, salted fish, fermented sausage, or my personal favourite, pork rinds:

Choosing deep-fried meats to eat with nam phrik and sticky rice, Mae Hong Son's morning market

Not surprisingly, deep-frying is also a popular way to prepare snacks in northern Thailand. Here in Mae Hong Son one of my favourite snacks is khang pong,  a local dish of battered and deep-fried strips of green papaya and shallots:

Khang pong, a local snack of battered and deep-fried papaya and/or sliced shallots, Mae Hong Son's evening market

The vendor above sells khang pong at Mae Hong Son’s evening market and she seasons them with the perfect balance of salt, turmeric, lemongrass and chili. The result is equal parts spicy, salty, crispy and hot.

Which brings me to breakfast, as khang pong is also a popular way to start the day here:

Khang pong, a local snack of battered and deep-fried papaya and/or sliced shallots, Mae Hong Son's morning market

In the mornings it’s served with the local version of khanom jeen naam ngiaw, a pork and tomato-based noodle soup. Many of the vendors who sell this dish also sell thua oon, a type of noodle soup served with a thick gooey gram bean ‘porridge’. The same gram bean stuff is also steamed into shallow cakes and yes, deep-fried:

Deep-fried chunks of gram flour paste, tofu and 'black' soybean fritters, Mae Hong Son's morning market

The bane of my breakfast. They look and taste astonishingly like fast-food French fries and are served with a deliciously sour tamarind-based dipping sauce. The other deep-fried dishes are, at 2 o’clock, deep-fried tofu, and at 5 o’clock, fritters of ‘black’ soybeans. I enjoy all of these very much, and have adapted to eating them for breakfast, but only allow it every other day. Guess I could never be a real northern Thai.

6 Comments for Deep-fried

lol deep frying is also a Burmese cult . Pork rind are way too naughty but better still are deep fried chicken rind to go with your beer . If Mae Hong Son is anything like Burma ( which from the food blogs it would certainly seem the closest of all the areas in Northern Thailand ) then you should be able to get this delicacy as well .

Whenever we’re in Burma, those tohpu triangles (known as “na-byun jaw” in Burmese) are the first thing we seek out.

It’s very hard to get the texture just right – and yes, they’re ridiculously more-ish 🙂

Aung Zeya: You can get deep-fried chicken skin in Bangkok as well, but I haven’t noticed it here.

meemalee: I agree, they’re brilliant, but have to be done just right (ie, not to oily). Incidentally, I’ve noticed that I tend to get the most comments when I post about Burmese foods. Thanks for your input. Hopefully I’ll have to chance to visit the country again soon and blog about things from there.

Austin, your pictures and stories make me want to hop on a plane and experience the world. But for now, your blog keeps me amply happy! Thanks for the stories.

[…] for the jok (rice porridge) stall, there are some very cool local dishes including delicious deep-fried goodies called khang pong, the local version of khanom jeen nam ngiaw, a watery pork- and tomato-based soup […]

[…] mentioned previously, people in northern Thailand love their deep-fried food. And in a weird twist of fate, one kind of […]

Wanna say something?