Posts Tagged With: thailand

Lazy Lizard Lunch – Bangkok

In the lazy lizard hut

In the lazy lizard hut

We are up to our necks in research (aka eating) at the minute in sunny, steamy Bangkok. It’s rainy season which means terrific storms and lightning, thunder, the Gods doing battle (I have just been to Greece you understand). The roads become rivers and there is not much more to do than sit and watch as the storms sparkle and rage.

Jane and I are doing our best to eat everything, cook everything and generally have the finest of foodie times. Bangkok is a city, Thailand is a country, where people with curious taste buds can eat like ravenous royalty on a daily basis (and the people adore their royal family over here). Inspiration flows freely and notebooks are choc full of new ideas and recipes. Travelling does that.

In Bangkok, Jane and I feel at home after many visits in the past. We have done zero touristy things and have just lived in local areas, catching up. We haven’t seen each other for more than three months!! Lots of photos to look at and experiences to share.

The first place was a typical Thai wooden house above a vibrant tropical inner city swamp (massive mosquitos, geckos and some curious street dogs and fan-tailed birds). The second, Pimm’s place, a lovely flat above a quiet residential street with a beautiful open plan kitchen. Noodles ahoy! The third is here, 18 floors above North East Bangkok. We’ve panoramic views of the buzzing city-scape and many times are blessed with eye level lightning shows.

Peaceful sunset from out 18th floor nest above the buzz of Bangkok

Peaceful sunset from out 18th floor nest above the buzz of Bangkok

We’ve lucked out here, with access to a salt water swimming pool, jacuzzi and all the other fine and dandy trimmings. We normally travel gritty and grimy, so this is a vip style surprise. How the other half move and shake. We have both been buzzing around travelling; sleeping on couches or floors, in hammocks and beside drunken Japanese nihilists. Which is a story for another blog altogether. (For more on Jane’s recent USA adventures, see the epic Magical Menstrual Tour here) Our little nest in the sky has been the perfect place to chill for a time in one space. Resting up for what is to come.  We have some awesome travel plans on the horizon.

Markets - one of my favourite places to wander

Markets – one of my favourite places to wander

Every place has had a little kitchen of some description and its been incredible to play with the local ingredients, relishing so many new influences.  I love the challenges of only having a wonky hob, or a sparking, intermittent heat source, or in some cases, just a microwave (admittedly my least favourite way to bring the heat). It’s amazing what you can do with a spoon and a bowl when you put your mind to it!? These restrictions push me into a different corner of cooking, a new approach where things can be learned and simplified.

Some of the finest food in the world is served in huts and stalls. Fact.

Some of the finest food in the world is served in huts and stalls. Fact.

THE GIANT LIZARD LUNCH
What about the lizards!? They were huge beasts. Beautiful in their way and menacing in many others. Giant monitor lizards that inhabited a little lake beneath a restaurant (battered hut on stilts) that we ate in the other day. It was adjacent to a main Bangkok highway but seemed like the jungle was fighting back, so much rampant nature in one urban locale.

There were many generations of the lizard family cruising around the pond, popping up from the depths like scaly submarines. We traced their bubbles, between mouthfuls of delicious Thai curry, as they patrolled and no doubt nibbled on the plentiful fish that leapt up on occasion. At first, when I saw one cruising our way, I thought “croc!” The locals looked less than impressed at my enthusiasm, from this I sensed little danger and calmed down a bit.

This must have been Daddy. Around two metres long with an unnerving twinkle in his eye.

This must have been Daddy. Around two metres long with an unnerving twinkle in his eye.

The restaurant owner feed them tit bits off a large forked stick. Feeding time with the dinosaurs! Local people find them to be bad luck and if they enter a home, it is seen to be a slight on the family name. That would be the least of my worries if one of these scaly behemoths wandered into my kitchen! Apparently, if you are attacked (which is very, very unlikely) by a giant monitor lizard the best advice is to RUN! Which is refreshingly honest. It’s normally something like ‘play dead’ or become submissive which always seems impractical.

We ate well, very fresh veggies. Morning glory (potentially snatched from the pond earlier) is a real treat, something that I rarely see on menu’s outside of SE Asia. Green tender stems given some serious hot pan treatment and then some tangy sauce other. We call it River Spinach on our island land (UK).  The main dishes are all not much more than £1 each.

Mama takes a closer look

Mama takes a closer look

Thai food does not hang around, you order, a minute later dishes appear.  This is preceded by some furious sounding gas hob (think jet engine sparking into action) and plenty of samurai chopping and wok clanging. Bosh! All beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. Crisp veggies always, none of that horrific floppy, overcooked-ness.  Loads of lime leaves, fiery chillies, creamy coconut, lemongrass, galangal, green peppercorns, so many interesting vegetables…….the fragrant beauty of Thai food in full effect!  We are here to explore!!

More Thai vegan adventures to follow….

We are sharing loads more on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like to join us;)

Categories: Healthy Eating, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Coconut and Almond Pad Thai (Raw)

Pre-dress – Coconut and Almond Pad Thai (Raw)

‘Tis a grey day in Wales and the streets of Bangkok seem a million miles away. There’s a little man, who moonlights as a pole dancing call girl (it is Bangkok) who makes the best Pad Thai, just off the hellish Kaosan Road. He whips it up in seconds, with his vivid painted blue nails and long fake eyelids.  It normally contains little dried shrimps and eggs, which we don’t add, but the rest of the ingredients are so simple and classically Thai. I can’t help thinking that making Pad Thai wouldn’t be such a bad way of making a living (preferable to moonlighting as a pole dancing call girl anyway!).

This type of Pad Thai recipe has been in my mind for a while and Jane just kick started me into getting it done.  I knew I wanted coconut in there somewhere, to make up for the flavours of shrimp, fish sauce and egg, but it needed something else.  I sought inspiration on the interweb and found a great recipe at the taste space food blog.  Just add almonds!  The missing ingredient had been found and I was off.  I always think of Spain with an almond, so mixing Spain and Thailand seemed like a very interesting proposition.

This is a taste sensation, as you would imagine from anything faintly Thai.  Thais food knows no mediocrity, over cooked veggies or insipid stews.  Its all fresh and POW! over there.  This is as Jane commented “real gourmet stuff!”  Not bad for a salad!

Pad Thai Vendor

I have added a few luxury ingredients that are not your everyday larder staples, but they are well worth the investment.  The tamarind is not necessary and if you have no almond butter, you can use peanut butter instead.  Tamarind is easy to find in most places and inexpensive.  Check out your local world food store.  If you can’t get your mitts on a fresh coconut, use pre-packed or I daresay desiccated will do.

For the salad itself, you will need a sharp knife and a French peeler.  Really, no cooks drawers are complete without one, so it’s a wise purchase.  You will save years of your life peeling things, they are so easy to use and in this recipe, double as an ace veg noodle maker.  Yes, no noodles here, just veggies.  Making it super healthy and crunchy.  You can use some kelp noodles as a base if you are in a rush, this salad does take while to get together.  Kelp noodles are really interesting and taste fantastic, not disimilar to a noodle.  They are also completely raw (aka good for the belly and body).  They are widely available and well worth an experiment.

The salad base will be good with other things like carrots, cauliflower and apples for instance. We have gone for something a little closer to home i.e. whats in the fridge.  We don’t like the dressing to be super sweet, but you may add a little more honey if you are a sweetie.

The kitchen is still full of the aroma of this intense dressing and the salad not only tastes wonderful, but is a rather sexy little number to boot!  It’s a looker.

This is the perfect summer salad to impress your friends (if they need any further impressing) and to treat your nearest and dearest to a taste of Thailand with a twist.  It is ideal served as a main course, but could also make a super side dish or starter.  Basically, you need to try this, however its served!

Chopped Ginger

Makes one big bowlful of good Thai lovin’:

The Bits

I know this looks like a hefty amount of ingredients, but don’t fret, its easy peasy really….

Salad/ Noodles – 1 large courgette (ribboned), 1 head of chicory (very thinly sliced whole), 1 red pepper (very thinly sliced, or julienne as they say in kitchens), 2 sticks of celery (ribboned), 2 handfuls of finely grated white cabbage, 1 big handful of sprouted mung beans (we used sprouting aduki beans also), 1 orange (peeled and chopped small), 1/2 a small coconut (chopped into small chunks), 1/2 cup smashed up peanuts (roasted if you’re not a raw one), 1 lime, heavy sprinkle of sesame seeds, 1 lime (for serving).

Dressing – 3 tbs tamari (or soy sauce), 2 teas honey (make runny by mixing in a little hot water), 2 cloves minced/ crushed garlic, 1 inch of finely chopped ginger, 1 chilli (finely diced),  juice of 1 big lime, 4 dates (soaked until soft), 1 tbsp tamarind paste (we chopped up, then mashed up whole tamarinds into a paste with a little warm water), 1/2 cup of almond butter (we make our own using soaked almonds and alot of blending, plus a little water.  You may use peanut butter here), sea salt (if you like, we don’t).

Do It

Ribbon and chop all your salad bits and get them into a lovely big bowl.  To ribbon easily, keep your fingers out of the way and bring the peeler down in smooth, firm motions.  Flip the veg regularly to ensure it is evenly peeled and by the end, you should be left with only a little slither, which can be sliced and tossed in also.  Reserve a few of the peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut for serving later.

In a blender, add all of your dressing ingredients and whizz up for a few minutes until a smooth texture has formed.  Taste it and adjust accordingly, normally the decision will be, sweeter or not?  It may need a little more lime, use the lime reserved for serving.

Mix the dressing into the salad, gently does it, some of those ribbons are quite fragile and look great when served whole.  Dish up with a big smile and be prepared for some yummmmmssss!

Coconut and Almond Pad Thai (Raw)

Serve

Sprinkle a few peanuts, coconuts and sesame seeds and finish with a little twist of lime juice.

We Love It!

WOW.  A really stunning salad.  Jane said it was “more than lovely,  INCREDIBLE!  This salad is genius…..”

Foodie Fact 

Pad Thai is one of Thailand’s national dishes.  It has been served in Siam (Thailand’s old name) for thousands of years, but was made popular by president Luang Phibunsongkhram in the 1930’s.   He wanted to lower the consumption of rice in Thailand, which was making good money being exported, and therefore promoted Pad Thai as being proudly Thai and virtuous.  He set about educating the nation in making rice noodles, especially the underpriveleged, training them to sell Pad Thai dishes selling them in small cafes or from street carts.  This may have something to do with the amazing array of Thai street food in modern day Thailand.  Cheers Luang!

Now for a blast of Thai blues from my favourite bar in Bangkok, the legendary ‘Adhere Blues’ bar:

 

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Raw Green Thai Soup

Thai soup – in the mix

Here is a classic Thai soup, only this time served cold.  This is without doubt the finest chilled soup I have ever tasted.  You just have to look at what goes into it to realise that it is going to be a taste sensation!  Coconut, lemon grass, chilli, lime and ginger.  That’s the taste of food heaven.

If there is any food which mirrors a country, it is Thai.  Vibrant, colourful and unique.  The combination of ingredients and fresh, fresh flavours make my mouth water.

Jane and I met not far from Thailand (well the Philippines, but close enough!) We both love Asia for many reasons, but the people and food really stand out. Thailand cannot be beaten for food.  A bold statement, but anyone who has visited and trawled the street food and markets will agree.  Great food made simply but with super fresh ingredients.  The soups alone are almost alchemical, their vapours can revive the soul and the flavours dance in your mouth like a dragon.

Thai’s love food. In a way that us pretentious Europeans cannot comprehend. My friend Toum took me to a local market in a suburb of north Bangkok and I have never seen such care taken in the selection of produce. I was chided for holding some green leaves the wrong way round and generally made to feel clumsy with my food handling and that I had much to learn in the respect and treatment of food.  We carried our vegetables home as if they were newly born babies.

You can see the real identity  of countries and cultures coming through in what they eat.  Most Thais eat very well, regardless of social standing.  In fact, they seem to eat the same things, in the same places.  Namely the street.  There is a movement towards a more westernised capitalist  culture in the upper and middle classes, but all done in a very Thai way.  I can never see the big mac taking over from the pad thai.

This will be very refreshing come summer (it is coming I hope), the flavours are as intense and fragrant as you would expect from things Thai.

Bangkok Street Food

The Bits

There’s lots of bits in this one, but that’s what makes it so very tasty!

6 mushrooms, 6 tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, 1 cm fresh ginger (or 1cm galangal if you can), 1 lemon grass stick, 1 red chilli, 4 dates, 6 lime leaves, juice of 2 limes, bunch of coriander, 120g fresh coconut chopped, 125g spinach, 1 apple, 2 tbsp tamari

Do It

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender and keep your finger on the button until all the herbs have been blitzed.

Raw Thai Soup

Serve

In a big bowl with a few sprouts and coriander leaves on top, a whole heap of love, and the biggest spoons you have!

We Love It!

It is such a taste explosion and takes us back to happy memories of a wonderful land (just one spoonful of this and we now want to go back!).  This is authentic thai, without the jars of paste.

Thai Lotus Flower

Foodie Fact

So essential to Thai cookery, coriander (celantro to some) is actually native to the Mediterranean and is rich in anti-oxidants that help against heart conditions.  It also contains high levels of vitamin C and many different minerals.  It  is one of the richest sources of vitamin K and has a very high vitamin A content.  Quite a herb!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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