If we could strip away the spices, the seasonings, the vegetables and the herbs from savory dishes we could uncover their naked flavor profile core. There, we would encounter a strong savory-umami, sometimes coupled with other basic elements of smoke and fat. This flavor core is, for us humans, the sought-after taste of protein; our first sip of mother’s milk, and the primal experience of burned game meat on the fire.
Today we would like to highlight a powerhouse for umami creation: the fermentation process. We will focus on fermented fish innards from southern Thailand (dtai bpla ไตปลา), one of about a dozen fermented products used in the country. We will show you how chefs for the capital’s elite, as early as or, before the reign of King Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai (Rama II, 1767-1824), harnessed its wild nature and created a dish similar to what we present today – a salad with infused fermented fish innards dressing.
Breaking news: The oldest Thai cookbook, as well as history’s first-ever recorded recipe for Phanaeng curry, are revealed for the first time on Thaifoodmaster.com – A 126-year-old cookbook written by one of Siam’s most revered singers, Maawm Sohm Jeen (Raa Chaa Noopraphan) (หม่อมซ่มจีน, ราชานุประพันธุ์), has been rediscovered, offering a unique glimpse into the culinary repertoire of 19th-century Siam. In this chapter we examine the different forms of phanaeng curry from the 1800s to the present day, as we reconstruct the 19th-century version and craft step-by-step a traditional beef phanaeng curry.
For the khanohm jeen saao naam version that we present today, we turn again to the writing of Thanpuying (Lady) Gleep Mahithaawn for her unique take on the dish. Her version is quite similar to the common recipe encountered nowadays, but Lady Gleep enhances it with more ingredients, elevating the dish yet another notch to the level of a majestic masterpiece.
I love this straightforward grilled Thai fish curry in banana leaves because it packs a punch with its aromatic curry mixture that embrace the white and tender fish meat with great flavors. It is a great addition for any Thai meal and very easy to prepare.
Snakehead fish, traditionally caught from irrigation ditches or flooded rice fields, benefits from the aromatic curry paste because it helps to eliminate unpleasant odors which wild caught fishes might acquire from their muddy habitat. Nowadays though, it is commercially farmed and one can safely cook it in various ways with no risk of those undesirable odors.
I love my food very spicy and I’m very generous with all things chili. People like me who also enjoy spicy food, in part, love it because It’s a truly a food & mood issue. Chilies are known to boost endorphin levels in the body and that makes us feel better. Maybe that’s the reason why marketers get my immediate attention simply with red packaging and the naughty smile of the devil holding to the brand name logo of their products.
Catfish are not too fussy about the waters in which they swim. They can even flourish in stagnant waters and flooded rice fields. Farmed widely, Catfish is an inexpensive, accessible, nutritional and delicious food source.
Grilled catfish is a delicacy, the yellowish mildly fatty flesh goes well with sticky rice and chili-limejuice-fish-sauce sauce, or sweet fish-sauce dip and fresh vegetables.
The northeast region of Thailand, bordered with Laos in the north and Cambodia in the east, is a rough land to work. Issan, as it known in Thai, suffers droughts and deficiencies, the land gets really dry and unforgiving making in some area the digging for mineral salt a better business than agriculture.
Issan food is made from bricks of simplicity. It reflects its people coarse life and is in general pungent and hot. Eaten with sticky rice, only very little is required to flavor the rice in the hands of the entire family. I love the rustic Issan food and I own a sincere admiration to their culinary ingenuity.