2nd Anniversary Dinner (at home)

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From 12 o’ clock, clockwise:

  • Samoo – A special delicacy of ground pork and a whole bunch of special herbs, from the Ubon area. Nam’s mom made a pot of it for us a few days ago, and she’s the only person we know who can make it.
  • Sukiyaki-sliced beef we found at the local Tesco. I fried it in butter/sesame oil with garlic and sprinkled with coarse ground salt, pepper, and kaffir lime.
  • Deep fried tabtim (hybrid tilapia, pink/orange in color). They fry these (and any other fish) up for you at Tesco.
  • Tom Ka Gai, spicy/sour chicken soup with coconut milk
  • Thai version of a mixed salad with local tubers, pumpkin, and fresh tomatoes

(Thanks to everyone who wrote congratulations – we miss you all!)

Upside down in the Third World…

…or is it the First World that’s fucked?
First check out this article:
The Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog: So Good It’s Illegal
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Now, which of the following do you think is harder for me to explain to a classroom full of average Thai kids?

  1. Why it’s illegal (and a jailable offense) to sell grilled hot dogs where I’m from
  2. Why street vendors where I’m from have to watch out for cops, health and safety officials and extortionate gangs
  3. Why any of the above parties can’t be universally placated with a free meal now and then

If they outlawed (and enforced) hot dog grilling in Bangkok alone, 20,000 people would have to change careers. Luckily, most of the changing would be done by just selling different stuff on the cart the next day, but still…

katsu kare night

I totally made a huge pot of Japanese curry and deep fried some fresh tonkatsu as well. The occasion? Today is the midpoint between Nam’s birthday (Nov. 9) and her little sister Noon’s (Nov. 6), so we celebrated them together as they have done since they were little. The food was so good, none of the nine people at the table spoke much until the meal was done. I was very proud of stuffing everyone full of so much garlic and curry goodness, and forgot to take photos.
For some reason, I never actually made tonkatsu myself before tonight, but it was easy and turned out very well.

Nam Nuong

Nam Nuong are the little grilled sausages on sticks shown below, but it’s also the name of this dish. It’s Vietnamese in origin, but I don’t know what it’s called there.

All of the ingredients are laid out on a rice wrapper and rolled up before eating, like a fajita.

The sauce is sweet and spicy, and full of roasted peanuts – the combination of all the fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs (including lettuce, cukes, green bananas, starfruit, mint, kaffir lime leaves, green chilies, and everything else in the photo that I don’t know the names for yet) is something that cannot be described, but must be experienced.

fruit sacrilege

Thai farmers dumped a ton of mangosteens on the street in front of city hall to protest the low selling price. I’m pretty sure all the government workers rushed out to scoop up their share.
3 baht per kilo does sound pretty low, though. They retail for 18-20 baht/kilo up here in the northeast; the best quality ones at their peak went as high as 25 baht/kilo a couple months ago.
I do have to say that if you’ve never had a fresh mangosteen, you are missing out on one of life’s real pleasures.

On the Road 2007 (Part 6) – The Animatronic Chicken Roasters of Rayong, Thailand

On a previous trip to Thailand, I wrote about the most delicious roast chicken I have ever eaten. I have many special memories of Rayong, and the awesome roast chicken stands by the roadside are certainly counted among them. I had been looking forward to reevaluating the chicken itself since the last time I visited, to be sure it hadn’t been a fluke, or just how hungry I had been at the time.
The chicken stands to which I refer are concentrated along a half-kilometer stretch of a long road into town, from the east end of Mae Ramphueng beach. We scoped out the whole stretch a couple times and stopped at the one that caught my eye.

This stand had the best chicken illustration on their sign (important!), as well as the freshest-looking birds.

Aloha shirt, ski goggles and mask, and a straw hat! What’s not to like?

Grinding away in the heat – this guy’s job really sucks

The entire setup is powered by an electric motor drawing power from the lines directly above the stand.

If shirts could talk…

My man here is styling, too.
As it turns out, this wasn’t the only stand with animatrons, but it was the only one with multiple animatrons. I saw other stands that already were, or were in the process of being semi-automated with motorized spits, and most had the automatrons as well, so I figure the same man or crew may be creating them for everybody on that strip – whoever he is, the guy’s a genius.
The non-automated spits actually require a person to turn them, which is just torture in the midday heat amplifying the heat of the coals. The stands still of course require humans for all the other tasks, and this one was manned by a mother/daughter team:

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I came for chicken and by god, I got chicken (and sticky rice, biooootches!):

The sauce from this stand was good, but not great. The funny thing is, this chicken is so good, it doesn’t need sauce.
Mandatory “glistening fat” closeup:

That bottom right part is the neck – mmm, mmm good.
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All links for the On the Road 2007 series:
On the Road 2007 (Part 1)
On the Road 2007 (Part 2)
On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang
On the Road 2007 (Part 4) – Overloaded
On the Road 2007 (Part 5) – Tamnanpar
On the Road 2007 (Part 6) – The Animatronic Chicken Roasters of Rayong, Thailand

Mangosteens and Rambutans

…are in season!

They sell for around 40 cents per pound each at the market; this is apparently a good year.

Probably my favorite fruit in the world. In fact, I can’t think of a close second.

Such an alien-looking fruit. Delicious, though.

Fr007 pr0n!
Bonus trivia (via Wikipedia):

  • The mangosteen is known as the “Queen of Fruits” in Asia. (The “King of Fruits” is the durian. If the king and queen ever bear children, I’ll be the first in line to eat them.)
  • The exocarp (purple outer layer) of the mangosteen is rich in both nutrients and antioxidants, however, this is generally not the edible part. The inner white fruit is known as the aril and seems to contain, well, uh, delicious juices that aren’t proven to be beneficial in any way, thus proving that anything that’s really healthy for you probably doesn’t taste very good.
  • “There is a story, possibly apocryphal, about Queen Victoria offering a cash reward to anyone who could deliver to her the fabled fruit (mangosteen).”
  • Thailand is now the world’s largest producer of rambutans.
  • Rambutan seeds are poisonous to humans.