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Spicy Fresh Tomato “Hell” Relish (น้ำพริกมะเขือเทศ)

Spicy Fresh Tomato Relish
A few weeks ago, I had a short conversation with @dawnwow on Twitter who said to me that she had always felt like pico de gallo was a flavor short of being Thai. I completely agreed with her. In fact, if you’re familiar with both Mexican and Thai cuisines, surely you’ve noticed some similarities as well (compare the roasted tomato sauce accompanying “crying tiger” in Simple Thai Food with roasted tomato salsa, for example).

That dialogue reminded me of a quick relish I frequently made when I was a new student in the US which, for some reason, I don’t make nearly as often any more. Back then, though, I practically lived on it. There would always be a batch in the refrigerator, ready to be used on anything I could afford to make or bring home. As a cash-challenged student, those things usually included a Thai omelet, some hard-boiled or medium-boiled eggs, or a store-bought rotisserie chicken one of which would last me for 3-4 days.

There were a small repertoire of quick, simple, affordable, and highly versatile dishes like this relish that saw me through those days when I had very little time and even less money. In many ways, I feel I owe my life to them. Continue Reading →

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Khao Man Gai Encore ข้าวมันไก่ (มาอีกแล้ว)

Khao Man Gai - Thai Adaptation of Hainanese Chicken Rice
Remember khao man gai (RTGS: khao man kai)? If it’s been a while since you last made it, or if you’ve never made it at all, maybe I can encourage you to visit that old post? (Oh my word, the post is five and a half years old now. Time flies.)

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Mon Dipping Sauce (น้ำปลามอญ) by Ong Bunjoon

Mon Dipping Sauce
I recently fell in love with a book. I’m still head over heels as I’m typing this sentence.

Long story short, I popped into a Kinokuniya during a quick layover in Bangkok early this summer in hopes of finding something tiny but texty and thrilling* to read on the 4-hour plane ride I’d catch later that evening. No more than 5 minutes later, I walked out with a copy of Khang Samrap Mon (ข้างสำรับมอญ)**, a pocketbook — still shrink-wrapped — with nothing that appealed to me on a quick glance other than the title and the author’s vaguely familiar name.

Not only was the book devoured in one sitting as planned, it was also constantly by my side as I was hopping from place to place in East and Southeast Asia in the following 3 months. All sorts of brutal acts like double- and triple-underlining, highlighting, dog-earing, excessive exclamation pointing, and ranty, monologic marginal-notating had been committed by me against the poor book. But in the process, I had learned so much about the culture and food of the ethnic Mon in Thailand. Continue Reading →

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