When I made Som Tam for Asia Food Fest Thailand two years back, I fell in love with how it tasted. The assemblage of piquant flavours from sugary to sour, savory and spicy came together beautifully to stimulate one’s palate. And now I turn to using green mangoes in place of papaya, for Som Tam Mamuang. Needless to say, it was equally, if not even more moreish and appetite whetting!
I’d done a number of fusion pastas in the past, marrying the famous Italian dish with Asian elements like mentaiko, pulled beef rendang and even laksa pesto. Then again, a school of thought believes that Italian pasta originated from China when Marco Polo travelled to more than half a millenium ago and brought it all the way back to the boot-shaped peninsula, making the noodle’s beginnings Asian in actuality! But others argued that that Marco Polo’s fabled travels to the Far East was nothing but an incredible tale and didn’t really happen. Well, I’m not about to open a can of worms here to debate the origins of pasta but whichever the case is, fusion pastas work well which is the only important thing here!
I was enjoying Tom Yum Goong just yesterday and with a small selection of other Thai dishes and just as I was thinking of cooking the remnant soup with some khanom jeen, an online pasta cooking and sharing event quickly initiated a change of plans and made me create this fusion pasta instead. Lead entirely by instincts, the recipe was forged within minutes, not wanting something too complex and elaborated. Pasta dishes are afterall meant to be quick meals with ease and simplicity being the main cause. Thankfully, the recipe worked reasonably well, though not without room for improvement of course. I’ll revisit it again when time permits me but for now, allow me to indulge in the 2015 version of tom yum goong pasta. Ideas and brain-storming from like-minded foodies for future renditions are more than welcome!
Con Nghêu Hấp is another Vietnamese dish which I’d gotten to know from dining at Luong Phuong with Syebvonne and the rest. It is essentially clams which had been briefly cooked in a lemongrass broth. The Thais have a very similar version called Hoi Tom Takrai หอยต้มตะไคร้ but whichever versions you chose to cook, it is incredibly easy to prepare and yet so tasty at the same time!
One of my earliest experience with Thai food is probably Pad Thai, together with the other quintessential “must-orders” for anyone venturing into Thai cuisine, like Tom Yum Goong and Pineapple Fried Rice. Every street hawker does Pad Thai a bit differently from the other. Slight nuances in the ingredients used, the proportion of condiments, even down to the sequence of adding the ingredients, e.g. when to crack the egg etc. could alter the taste and texture of the dish completely. But they are all quite delicious. Well, most of them are at least. To date, this popular street food which brings together three important ingredients commonly used in Thai cooking, i.e. palm sugar, tamarind pulp and fish sauce, remains one of my favorites, being sweet, sour and savory all at the same time.
I was at Golden Mile Complex along Beach Road last week and believe it or not, it was my first trip to this place. Often dubbed as “LittleThailand”, it is the place to go for Thai groceries and produce. 10-15 years back when Singapore’s construction industry heavily depended on Thai and Burmese workers, this place was packed over weekends by those in seek of solace for something that reminds them a bit of home, be it food or just to be in the company of fellow kinsman. The lower floors are now occupied by travel agents who mainly offer coach packages to Malaysia and southern Thailand as well as hair salons and eateries offering authentic Thai cuisine while the higher levels are dotted with Thai bars, nightclubs and massage palours, not unlike wha one would find in Patpong, Bangkok. But it is the supermarket on the second floor that I am here for. It boasts to have the most comprehensive spread of Thai groceries and sundries and with a mega floor space that occupies almost the half of the entire level, I’m quite convinced that this would be a one-stop Thai shopping experience for me. The fresh food section was quite an eye-opener with an assortment of Thai vegetables and fruits on display, some of which I’d totally not seen before. There are at least five different types of basil available, all smelling and looking different. Some of them have only their Thai names labelled making them incomprehensive and alien. Altogether very intriguing indeed! One name struck jackpot as it was ชะอม Cha Om, a vegetable Wendy had told me about before. Curious that we should be able to find it here in Singapore. Had to grab a bunch or two for ไข่เจียวชะอม Khai Jeow Cha Om, a Thai Acacia Omelette!
Most of us know that Penang, Melaka and Singapore are the three strongholds of Peranakan culture in this region. This not only stems from the long withstanding establishment of the Straits Chinese communities in there three places but more importantly in recent years, the fervent promotion of Peranakan culture by the tourism-related authorities in Singapore and Malaysia. However, the existence of Peranakan culture outside these three places is much much lesser known let alone their culinary heritage. So when I first read about Telur Kesum, a Kelantanese Peranakan dish, it got me very curious.