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Jim Jum: Hot Pot Isan-Style

Isan Hot Pot
Here’s a modern-ish Isan dish that would be perfect for this time of year when the temperature is beginning to drop in the Northern Hemisphere.

Essentially Isan shabu shabu or hot pot Isan-style, jim jum (literally “dip (and) dunk”)* is not a weeknight meal; it’s not an everyday dish; it’s more of a party food which I enjoy no more than twice a year: the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas when palate fatigue from all the cheesy, buttery, creamy, and sweet dishes from the big feast from the day before sets in. Nothing fixes it like a piping hot, brothy meal like this—spicy, sour, salty, herbaceous. It hits all the parts of you that need to be hit. Having most of the friends who live locally around during that time to enjoy it with me makes it even more fun.

It doesn’t mean you can’t have it more often than that. Continue Reading →

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Saksith Saiyasombut and Baby Back Rib Satay, Peanut Sauce, and Cucumber-Onion-Sweet Pepper Salad

Saksith Saiyasombut and Pork Rib Satay
Ask Saksith Saiyasombut about Thai food in Germany and he’ll probably heave a sigh. I know that, because when I recently raised the subject to the Hamburg-based freelance journalist and political commentator, his immediate reaction was exactly that: a heaving of a sigh—soft and sustained. It didn’t strike me as one of displeasure; if anything, it was more of an acquiescent, faintly audible shrug. Then again, it was the only sigh Saksith heaved during our phone conversation, and perhaps I shouldn’t be making too much out of a hapax. Continue Reading →

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Homemade Chili Oil: My All-Purpose Condiment

Homemade Chili Oil
Busy cooks know this: life is better and easier when you have a pantry full of things that keep for a long time without refrigeration and can be used in multiple ways at a moment’s notice. That is why this fragrant and fiery chili oil (not to be confused with nam prik pao) is always found in my pantry as well as the pantries* of my loved ones who are often gifted with a jar of it every now and then. We love it so.

Let’s be clear on one thing first, though: you’ll hardly ever see this condiment used in traditional Thai stir-fries, curries, soups, or salads. Even noodle shops in Thailand don’t usually have this available for you on the table as part of their seasoning caddy (on the other hand, you’ll see plain dried chili powder which is the norm). Chili oil is something you’ll most likely see at a Chinese restaurant. Continue Reading →

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