Khao Tom

For dinner tonight we went to one of our favorite local restaurants; a place serving fat bowls of seafood-laced khao tom, rice soup. Sounds boring, but is actually really nice when done well, which for some reason is almost the exception around here.

I ordered a bowl of khao tom with squid, oysters and fish belly:

The green stuff is khuen chai, Chinese celery, as well as some green onions and deep-fried crispy garlic. The rice is soft, not soggy, the seafood broth is really light, and the seafood perfectly undercooked.

Khuat ordered the same thing, but with pickled jellyfish (no comment) and oysters:

Perhaps even more than the rice soup, I really love the hors d'oeuvre of strips of crispy deep-fried tofu served with a spicy-sour-salty sauce:

The sauce is made from tao jiaow, fermented soybeans, and is liberally laced with sliced chilies and lime juice. The sauce is also meant to go in your rice soup, but this is one of the few places that does food so well, you don't really need to add a bunch of supeflous sauces.

And finally we also ordered a bowl of parboiled seafood:

This is essentially the same thing as khao tom, just without the rice and broth. This bowl contained (more) oysters, (unfortunately more) pickled jellyfish and slices of plaa kraphong, sea bass. All of these are dipped in boiling water just for a second, so that they're not really cooked, but no longer raw. This dish also has a generous amount of Chinese celery and deep-fried garlic, which is best after you've mixed it all around a bit:

Until it looks like this: