Do you remember hearing the ocean through a large conch shell when you were a kid? This stylish yet simple dish is made from only a few ingredients and will dip your taste buds in flavorful, rich and creamy ocean’s essence, like that conch shell.
In the southern provinces of Thailand, those bordering the sunny beaches of the Andaman sea, one can find yet another type of fermented shrimp product, “liquid fermented shrimp” (gabpi naam ; กะปิน้ำ).
Bangkok’s markets are busy from dawn until dusk, sometime even stay open when most of the city is asleep. Normally, the traffic of shoppers and crowds of office workers hurrying their way masks the busy stretch of shops and food stalls, making it difficult to pay close attention to details.
Earlier this year, however, a strange silence had fallen on the city, civil unrest brought life in the city of angels to an eerie standstill, Bangkokians elected to stay home, and shops closed their doors.
This dish brings yet another angle to celebrate the essence of Thai cuisine. The Thais dare pairing ingredients, which at first seem to be unmatchable, strong players with opposite characteristics, white turmeric and salted prawns, and guess what? It works beautifully!
The pairing actually has the intention to enhance the differences in flavor and texture, creating a playful dish, both in taste and in presentation. The delicate thin cut white turmeric juliennes with its crunchy-apple like texture matched well with the just made salted prawns chunks which still maintain some of their intrinsic sweetness.
If you are looking for a quick and tasty snack try this one. Like a beautiful jewel studded with gems, the yellow corn kernels are peeking through the golden crust… a festive choice for a party, afternoon brunch, or for a buffet table. The sweetness of the corn is beautifully enhanced by the aromatic seasoning; it is truly irresistible that warrants this caveat: double the recipe.
Ajat is extremely simple yet elegant, and when you include it side to deep-fry or oily dishes, it is a knockout. Ajat is commonly served alongside Satay, Murtabak, Fish cakes and other deep fried snacks. Its sweet and sour syrup helps to mellow down the oily richness. You can prepare the syrup ahead of time and assemble it just before serving.
A dish, like a smell or a color can be so evocative in their place or time. This dish always flys me back to the food stalls of Chiang Mai with its vivid color and tartly savor.
In this fast moving world, it is good sometime to pause for a moment, and to have a dish that emphasis relaxation, and allows you to enjoy a feast of textures and colors, because it is never eaten alone. It is served with a rich plate of accompanying vegetables pleasantly arranged, and with a group of good friends; all sharing the centrally placed bowl of the shiny red relish.
Here is a wonderful spicy Nam Tok recipe; you may as well go for it! A crispy fried fish dressed with plenty of fresh herbs, plenty of chilies than some lime juice and fragrant ground roasted rice as a textural binder. It is an unpretentious dish, that is just about what is around and what is available; there is some sort of truth about it, which makes it so wonderful.
If you are trying your first Issan style recipe, than this is the one to go for. It is not complicated to prepare and will show off beautifully the hearty and rustic flavors of Issan.