Thai Fusion

One of the most bizarre dishes in Thailand is khao phat amerikan, American fried rice. This is rice that has been fried--like we always do back home in the States--with the addition of ketchup, sliced hot dogs and raisins, and if you're lucky, a fried egg. Other than this culinary train wreck, there aren't too many dishes in Thailand that attempt to combine Western and Thai cooking. Steaks (i.e. pork chops) are popular, especially in Bangkok, but fried meat is more or less universal, and there's no lemongrass or kaffir lime leaf involved. "Bread" (I use this term in the loosest sense possible) is also very common throughout the country, but for the most part takes the form of fluffy, sweet imitations of Real Bread, without any real attempt to make it "Thai". You'll also be hard-pressed to find tom yam pot pies or green curry with salmon (actually, I could be wrong here). In general, Thais like their Thai food Thai, and their Western food staunchly quasi-Western. However, one dish that successfully combines both Thai and Western cooking is spaghetti plaa khem, spaghetti with salted fish,


Lest you assume in your haste that "salted fish" refers to anchovies, it's actually the very Thai plaa insee, Spanish mackerel. At the neighborhood joint where I consumed the above, a chunk of this extremely salty fish was deep-fried until crispy, before being broken up and sauteed with some garlic, dried chilies and oddly enough, canned mushrooms, the only time I've ever seen or eaten this stuff in Thailand. This was briefly sauteed with spaghetti and topped with bai horaphaa, Thai sweet basil, that had been deep-fried until crispy. The result was salty, spicy and satisfying, and although it wasn't capable of inspiring misty-eyed reflections of my youth in the Old Country quite like American fried rice can, it was still a pretty good lunch.