Cooking Thai Food

At last I was able to spend my first weekend at my house. The electricity was finally upgraded to 30 amps on Thursday enabling for us to turn on the air in more than one room at the same time. The only thing still left to do is connecting the telephone line. Two weeks have already passed and apparently there are still no lines available.

Anyway, it was a great weekend. It is good to have the freedom of my own living room and very large bedroom. Actually the bedroom is so large that the king sized bed is looking a little lost. Only a bed and wardrobe so far. Not sure yet what to do with the rest of the room. Maybe a kitchenette or a sofa. Changing the windows and door to the balcony was a good idea. Despite being so close to Sukhumwit Road I couldn’t really hear the traffic. The old wooden windows had gaps and didn’t block out any of the sound. Money well spent.

Friday to Saturday it was raining quite a bit and so the temperature was 25-32 Celsius. The fan in the living room did a good job of keeping the place cool. It helps if we keep the front door and back door open. Not too many problems with mosquitoes so far. If it does get worse later we can just shut the doors and use the mosquito screens on the windows. On Sunday it didn’t rain and the temperature went up to a more sticky 32-34 Celsius.

What would you say the difference is between a Thai house and a house belonging to a farang? I have already mentioned air-conditioning. The average Thai family manages to survive without any. But, what are the differences between my house and the one next door? For starters, they have a bed in the living room. During the day-time this acts as their couch. At night, one of the extended family members sleeps there. Another difference is that they have a couple of motorbikes parked next to the t.v.!

If you go to one of the local hypermarkets, like Big C or Tesco Lotus, you will start to get a clearer idea of what the popular household items are. I was there the other week trying to buy some of the smaller things for the house. In the cutlery section, there was a large choice of spoons and forks. These are so popular that they are bundled together at reduced prices. There are knives there, but they are tucked away in the corner and almost twice the price. As you may know, Thais use spoons and forks to eat. They don’t usually use knives.

My next problem was trying to find a duvet for the beds. I found the sheets without any problems but not the duvets. All I could find were the thin blankets that a lot of Thai people use on their beds and some comforters that are like duvets but are smaller and thinner. In the end I was told to go to Central department store to buy the duvets. As with anything Western, these cost a lot more.

I suppose, the one thing we have in common is the rice cooker. Essential for living in Thailand. Having my own kitchen is turning out to be one of the highlights so far. I have always liked cooking but whenever I have tried to enter the kitchen at the school the cooks always insist on cooking for me. They won’t let me go anywhere near the gas stove. They seemed to think it was funny that I wanted to cook. As there were always servants around at the school, I haven’t cooked much more than eggs and bacon in the last ten years!

Anyway, now I can at last start experimenting with cooking again. I already have quite a stock of Thai cook books. The first meal I cooked was red curry with pork and stir-fried vegetables. Not too bad if I may say so myself. Actually, to be honest, I cheated a little. I bought a packet of red curry paste at Foodland! All I had to do was put this in my wok after heating some oil. Then I added the pork. After it was well cooked I added two cups of coconut milk. I also sprinkled in some naam blaa (fish sauce) and dropped in some fresh kafir leaves together with basil leaves that I had bought myself. I also popped in some baby tomatoes. The only thing I didn’t put in was the sugar. I think Thai meals have too much sugar. They seem to put it in everything. Even noodle soup.

That was it really. A simple meal but quite delicious. Well, for me anyway. Gor just commented that it was “eatable”. His wife just smiled. Obviously I need more experience to bring it up to Thai standards. There are so many different sauces which are used for the soups and stir-fries. It gets confusing as they look much the same. We have four different bottles in the kitchen cupboard. I will have to do some more reading to see what each one contributes.

Really, you don’t need to cook much in Thailand. There are so many foodstalls along the road that you can easily have a different meal each night. And they are cheap. Not much more than 25-30 baht (60 cents). I will tell you more about these another time.

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