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Caramel-Glazed Pork Cracklings and Peanuts (กากหมูถั่วหวาน) from Baan Varnakovida (บ้านวรรณโกวิท)

บ้านวรรณโกวิท
Choosing where to eat in Bangkok is never easy; we’re talking about a big and diverse city, teeming with choices. But if forced to identify only one segment where I think the city’s best food is found, I would point to the homes—specifically the homes of old families who cook from recipes passed down for generations. A close second would be restaurants that serve traditional Thai dishes based on family heirloom recipes.

I never understand—or like—the whole unless-it’s-found-on-the-streets-it’s-not-good-or-authentic sentiment, which I’ve noticed from time to time in travel writing or travelers’ comments about Thailand, especially Bangkok. It doesn’t reflect the reality of how Bangkokians actually eat or the way they see their own food. It’s objectively wrong. It minimizes the importance and contribution of the restaurants in the city many of which seek to preserve local traditions and support responsible farming as well as small-scale artisans. It affects me the same way fingernails on a chalkboard do. And I find it just as irritating as the assertion that royal Thai cuisine is the only authentic Thai cuisine.

There’s nothing wrong with being excited about street food or even loving it to the exclusion of others. I, too, love street food. It’s fun; it’s convenient. The streets are where you’ll find lots of things that even the most able and dedicated home cook won’t/can’t make at home. But when that excitement turns into blind, broad-stroke deification of cheap street food and disparagement of more refined establishments, it becomes problematic. Continue Reading →

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Thai Noodles with Cinnamon and Shrimp from Simply Nigella

Thai Noodles with Cinnamon and Shrimp from Simply Nigella Cookbook by Nigella Lawson
In her latest cookbook, Simply Nigella, Nigella Lawson has included a few Thai and Thai-inspired recipes the most attractive (to me) of which is the one titled, “Thai Noodles with Cinnamon and Shrimp” (“Prawns” in the British version). The moment I got my hands on a copy of the book and saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. Continue Reading →

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Fried Rice with Cured Pork (ข้าวผัดแหนม)

Fried Rice with Cured Pork
Five years ago, I brought naem to your attention. Since then I’ve shown you how to make a pork rib version and a beef short rib version of it. I’ve sneaked into the kitchen of a restaurant in Chicago that serves a crispy rice salad featuring this cured meat. I’ve dragged my rear end to a street stall in Bangkok in the middle of the night to bring you another version of said rice salad with naem. Most recently, I’ve also shown you how you can add naem to a Thai-style omelet. So I’ll assume you’re familiar with this type of cured pork* that’s heavily consumed in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. If not, please read this post. Continue Reading →

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