When I was a kid growing up in Bangkok, fresh strawberries were few and far between. Imported strawberries could be found in some high-end supermarkets, but more often than not, they looked like they were about to join the choir invisible. The freshest strawberries we could find would come from farmers who grew them in the colder northern region. If our family timed our trip to Chiang Mai right, we would see these farmers on both sides of the road with shoe boxes full of just-picked strawberries—a joyous sight indeed. And though we knew from experience that as fresh as those strawberries looked, they would always be more tart than sweet, we loaded up the trunk with as many of them as we possibly could anyway. Buy first, figure out what to do with them later was our family’s motto when it comes to rare food items. Even now when the lack of fresh, sweet strawberries is no longer an issue in my life, I still have the tendency to overbuy them. Continue Reading →
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The house I grew up in was only a short distance away from Kasetsart University, one of Thailand’s premier colleges known for forestry, agriculture, and food science. And we never missed the school’s annual fair, a large outdoor exhibition/farmers’ market/food fair where you’d get to see a wide range of produce and plants and sample delicious things.
My dad, who grew orchids as a hobby, would look forward to finding new types of orchid to add to his greenhouse; my mom, who was deeply fascinated by cold-climate crops (especially beetroots), would look forward to buying and figuring out a way to cook unfamiliar “Western” produce; I, who loved food on sticks, would look forward to walking around the fairground with grilled meatballs or grilled pork on bamboo skewers in my little hands.
Kaset Fair, as the event is called, was a big deal. At least to us. Continue Reading →
First, I made the roasted tomato-dried chili dipping sauce on pages 112-113 of Simple Thai Food. I doubled the recipe, and added more fish sauce and lime juice to make the sauce thinner. I also stirred in about 2 teaspoons of toasted rice powder (page 182) at the end.
Then I half-filled a 4-quart saucepan with water and brought it to a boil. I stirred in 1 tablespoon sea salt to the water and added 3 pounds of jumbo shrimp. Keeping the water simmering, I cooked the shrimp until opaque, about 3 minutes. I drained them and served them with the dipping sauce. Everyone then gathered around the table and got messy.
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