Boiled, Stewed, Braised, Sautéd and Poached

The food culture of Phuket, like its architecture, blends western colonial, Hokkien Chinese with Muslim and Thai motifs. The Hokkien Chinese who arrived from Singapore and Malaysia introduced Muu Haawng to the repertoire of the Phuket Thai style cuisine (bpoon dteh ; ปุ้นเต่).

It is very similar to the Teochew style Phalo, but here there is no use of Chinese five-spice powder, instead it is relaying only on soy sauce, sugar, garlic and black pepper to create a thick gravy that color the pork with a caramelized shiny red and tempting sheen.

Forest dwellings communities and populations bordering forests relay on the forest as their main food source. They collect herbs and plants, fruits and vegetables, roots and nuts, and hunt for a wide range of game, such as wild boar, dear, small birds and frogs.

Jungle food is quick and simple to prepare and contain only few ingredients. Today we find it on restaurants’ menus and even cook it at home, far away from the jungles.

This is an aromatic stew that leans into the sweet spectrum of the palate. An all-time Thai favorite, moo palo was introduced locally by the Chinese-Cantonese and Tae Chiew immigrants who flocked to the Kingdom in the early nineteenth century. The name of this dish originates from two Chinese words: pah ziah and lou.

Bitter gourds have long been prized in Asia for a trait considered a defect in cucumbers: bitterness. We tend to believe that anything bitter is medicinal and, in this case, we could be correct. The bitter gourd is said to cure a wide range of ailments – from gastrointestinal conditions to cancers, and from diabetes to HIV. Also known as bitter melons, bitter gourds are pale green, with an irregular, warty surface. Typically, they are eaten following an initial treatment to remove some of the bitterness; often they are stuffed, to complement their somewhat eccentric bite.

Tom Yam is a type of soup with distinct sharp hot and sour flavors, scented with pleasant citrusy aroma.

Tom Yam is known to seduce many westerners to fall in love with Thailand, its people and food. Many trips memories to Thailand were written in diaries, others are etched on film but all are stained by the Tom Yam charm.

I still remember with vivid colors my first bowl of Tom Yam, in the night market of the old neighborhood on a hot night in a ragged, unfashionable part of Bangkok. Where the smell of cooking and the glare of florescent lights decorated the alley where JeMoi used to own a restaurant, a very simple and very good one, decorated with cheap bamboo chairs and peeling orange walls. I would enjoy watching the streets of the early night turning into mornings, eating, drinking and sweating. It was hard to say if I was sweating from the hot and humid weather, the cheap whiskey or JeMoi’s spicy food. I still smile when I think of her, standing by my table with a winning smile, as if she knew how much I enjoy the food.

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