Monthly Archives: May 2008

Lunchtime Thai Menu 22

Thai Fried Noodles with Fresh Shrimp (pad thai talay)

Probably the most famous of the Thai dishes is this one called simply “pad thai”. You often see them making this in bulk at temple fairs for only 10 baht a plate. Though you obviously don’t get the fresh shrimp or the quantity as in this picture. There are several versions. This one is “pad thai talay” which means it has seafood too. You can usually choose between fresh and dried shrimp. The latter is obviously cheaper. I actually prefer the texture of having dried shrimp. It is relatively easy to prepare. The main ingredients are rice noodles (sen lek), seafood, egg, bean sprouts, spring onion and tofu. You cook it in a sauce of palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind juice. It usually comes with a side helping of roasted ground peanuts, dried chili and a cut lime. Very delicious though the taste varies between vendors. I miss my local one who has gone somewhere else. The cost is 25 baht for dried shrimp and 30 baht for fresh shrimp.

Fried Mussels in Batter (hoi tod)

If you find a vendor selling “pad thai”, then they often make this one called “hoi tod”. It is basically fried mussels in a batter. I am not keen on mussels. I also don’t like it when they do it “undercooked”. Luckily, some vendors have a version which is nice and crispy which I enjoy a lot. I also would enjoy it more if they added another egg. I don’t have this one that often and it costs about 30 baht these days.

Fish Chili Sauce with Green Mango

To be honest, I am not keen on any dish that uses fermented fish. I did have a bad experience once that laid me up for several days. This one is different to the normal “nam prik pla” as it has green mango. Main ingredients include shallots, garlic and chillies which are pounded in a mortar. Fermented fish is then added to this and also the green mango. It is usually served with fresh or cooked vegetables. This was only 20 baht.

Fried Chicken Thai Style (gai tod baep thai)

This is a different kind of fried chicken with spices that is made at our local Muslim stall. This is not as crispy as the other Muslim vendor which I prefer. (I mean his chicken is crispy, not the vendor is cripsy.) This was 30 baht.

Rice Flour Strings in Coconut Cream

Our dessert today is sweet as usual but comes with a twist. It is called “khanom pla grim kai tao”. As you can see, it has two halves – one is sweet and the other salty. The “strings” are made with rice flour and sticky rice flour. The salty half is made with thick coconut milk and salt and the sweet half with thin coconut milk and palm sugar. Not too bad and costs only 10 baht.

Was Crazy Dave Really Crazy?

Our pal David “Crazy Dave” Polman wasn’t really crazy, but he had this wild “crazy” laugh that would spook locals and even those that knew him well!

Dave usually had a smile on his kisser and his infectious bellowing laugh could be heard for 100 meters!

Dave would let this wild laugh go out without a care in the world, he’d simply be reading the Bangkok Post or one of the many paperback books his customers left on a table and he’d suddenly be almost yelling that laugh out.

It actually scared a few of his timid local workers and they ended up thinking David was daft!

Thinking the big, bearded sunburned guy was crazy is another matter all together! Dave was very intelligent, well read, he’d been around and mastered many professions/trades and was one of those few “Jack Of All Trades, but Master Of ALL”! He could build a radio from tubes, get any thing mechanical/electrical working that was broke and kept his “007 dual side piped little Honda” running like a watch!

Thai Garden restaurant, Daves real Pride was always his top concern. His only short coming might have been his “control freak” management that never really let the place blossom because once the “boss” was out of the shop, things went badly, very badly.

Many was the time that Crazy Dave went for a short visa run to Penang, only to return and find his shop empty of all supplies, the cook had “loaned” some of the kitchen pots/gear to “my friend have”,etc…

At times it was funny, but certainly not for Crazy Dave, he’d yell and bellow and rant and scare the seaweed out of his “employees” and they’d quickly round up all the gear they could, but Dave never really learned to delagate or properly train any assistant and in the end, the place just turned into another “part time” open bar along the sunny beaches of Patong.

The place, run at it’s best was because of Dao’s great cooking! Dave would go daily to the big open market in Phuket town, the Baht-Bus would deliver the goods later that afternoon.

How to eat…. Mangosteen

The peak season for Mangosteen in Thailand is between May and June. This is a good time as the price is relatively cheap at only 20-25 baht a kilos. Which is less than US$1. The mangosteen starts of being green and then turns deep purple as it ripens. It is about the size of a small apple. However, you cannot eat it in the same way nor do you peel it like an orange. The easiest way is to careful cut around the diameter with a sharp knife, being careful not to pierce the fruit inside. Then you just twist the two sides apart. Inside you can see the white succulent fruit. It looks a bit like cloves of garlic but of course much softer. The number of segments vary. You can always find out how many there are inside before cutting it open. Just count the number of petals on the bottom of the mangosteen. Having six small segments is better than four fat segments. This is because the bigger ones are more likely to contain a seed which you shouldn’t eat. The taste of the mangosteen is sweet though it can be a little sour if you bite into the seed by mistake.

Some people believe that the thick skin has medicinal uses. In Thailand, there is a popular soap made from mangosteen skin that is good for skin infections. There is also a tea that is supposed to help diarrhea and bladder infections. Other laboratory tests have shown that the skin may have anti-cancer benefits as well as being anti-inflammatory and antifungal. However, be very careful when you cut open the mangosteen. The skin contains a dye that is difficult to wash out of your clothes. Like an apple, once cut open, you should eat within five minutes as it will start to discolour. The next time you have an opportunity, try some mangosteen. You won’t be disappointed.

Thai name: มังคุค​

Cost of Living in Thailand – 01

A few days ago, I was telling you about the average monthly wages in Thailand. As some people rightly pointed out, although we don’t get paid as much as our Western counterparts, our monthly bills are much lower. What I will share with you today, are some of the prices for things you can buy at the local supermarket. As a rough guide, US$1 is just under 40 baht.

2 litre bottle of Pepsi – 25-32 baht
Two 500 ml bottles of green tea – 30 baht

Back to School

On Monday, most of the students in Thailand went back to school after the long summer break. For me, it came a lot quicker than expected. I had an enjoyable break. I spent some of the time building up my internet business and other times going away on one day trips. I really like working flex-time and I had a nice routine going on at home. This included morning weight lifting exercise and then early evening I used the running track or stationary bicycle. I have my own private gym on the roof. I am not really a fitness freak. But, I spend a lot of time on computers as part of my work. So, it is important that I try and stay healthy. Now that I am back at school, I am not too sure if I will be able to keep this up. I don’t get home now until 5 p.m. and then in the evening I have to spend at least three or four hours in the office doing company work. It is not easy juggling two jobs.

It is always strange coming back. This time even more so as I only came into school a few times in the last two months. So, there were a few changes – some more noticable than others. I think probably the major one was that all the computer desks and work stations in the office and our staff room had been picked up and swung around so that we are now all facing north. At first I thought it might have been instructions handed down from the government at first. When you sing the king’s anthem properly you should stand up and face north towards his palace. However, apparently this is a “fen shui” thing. According to the experts hired by the school, we should all now be happy and productive workers. It makes me wonder if this will work properly if there is a skeptic in the workplace. Or if one person decided to face West or South. I wonder if I should mention to anyone that I have two computers on my desk. So, sometimes I am facing West. Am I throwing a spanner in the works? I am not sure whether to believe in this or not. But I suppose if my North-facing computer doesn’t crash and my West-facing Computer is full of viruses then I should seriously consider!

Another difference for us teachers is that on the first day back at work we all had our fingerprints taken. No, it wasn’t because we had done something wrong. The school administrators had decided that they would upgrade the old analogue clock for clocking in. Now when we arrive at school in the morning our fingerprints are scanned and the date and time noted. We then have to do this in the late afternoon when we go home at 4.45 p.m.