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Five Thai Noodle Dishes – Beyond Pad Thai

Michael Babcock, Friday, August 15th, 2014

There are many fabulous noodle dishes in Thailand that, in my opinion, put Pad Thai to shame. In this blog I mention just five of the fabulous variety of noodles found in the Kingdom (of Thailand). I’m picking five that I quite enjoy.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Hot and Spicy Drunkard’s Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Ground Pork, Thai Chillies and Holy Basil – Kuay Tiow Pad Kee Mao

Drunkard's Noodles

Drunkard’s Noodles

I think this is probably my very favorite noodle dish. I talked about it in an earlier blog – Current Top Ten Thai Dishes. Of all the versions I’ve had, I prefer Kasma’s (pictured to the left). She makes it with delicious fresh chow fun noodles (kuay tiow sen yai, in Thai), lots of Thai chillis, holy basil, garlic and pastured pork from Riverdog farms. The result is a very spicy, tasty dish. It has to be spicy to live up to its name: the dish is called “drunkard’s noodles” (and not “drunken noodles”) because it is so spicy-hot that you need to keep drinking to cool the mouth.

Kasma teaches this recipe in the Evening Series Advanced Set I-4. She teaches a similar dish – Drunkard’s Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sheet Noodles with Shrimp and Cuttlefish (Kuay Tiow Sianghai Pad Kee Mao) – in Advanced Set G-3 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2D, day 4.

Sukhothai-Style Dry Hot-and-Sour Rice Noodles – Kuay Tiow Haeng Sukhothai

Sukhothai Noodles}

Sukhothai-Style Noodles

Sukhothai Noodles

Sukhothai-Style Noodles

This is just a marvelous noodle dish – hot, sour and sweet. It’s full of various textures (pork cracklings, peanuts, egg, more) and flavors. It’s the only noodle dish I know that is served with a dollop of palm sugar that you mix up with the noodles. Before eating, everything is mixed together to make a tasty treat.

The picture above left is from Kasma’s class where it’s a real favorite. She teaches this recipe in the Evening Series Advanced Set F-4 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2D, day 4) and the above right picture is from a noodle shop in Sukhothai.

To see more pictures of this dish, check out our Facebook Album on Sukhothai-style Noodles. You may need to be logged in.

Roast Duck Noodles – Ba Mee Haeng Ped

Roast Duck Noodles

Roast Duck Noodles

This may be the noodle dish that I order the most in Thailand. The picture to the right shows a bowl from what was my favorite duck noodle shop in Thong Lo, now, unfortunately, no longer in business. (See my blog Thong Lo Duck Noodles). It’s a simple dish: basically, roast duck, egg-noodles (ba mee) and some greens. What makes it so delicious is the simplicity, the succulent roast duck (somehow so much better in Thailand), the egg noodles and the way that you spice the dish yourself. In Thailand, noodles typically are served with a Thai Condiment Set consisting of various ingredients so that you can add salty, sweet, sour and spicy, essentially creating your own favorite flavor grouping. I like these duck noodles with a sour chilli sauce for the sour, a bit of fish sauce, a generous serving of dried, roasted chilli powder and a bit of sugar to bring it all together. Delicious!

Stewed Beef Rice Noodles – “Boat Noodles” – Kuay Tiow Reua

Beef Noodles

Stewed Beef Noodles

No blog on delicious Thai noodle dishes would be complete without including a soup noodle, such as this one. The version pictured is from one of Kasma’s Thai cooking classes; she teaches this recipe in the Evening Series Advanced Set C-1 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2A, day 4. I do love a good bowl of beef noodle soup with many kinds of beef: stewed beef, beef tendon, raw beef quickly cooked before serving and (often) beef dumplings or tripe. It’s stewed for many hours to make a nourishing bone broth. I prefer it with the same chow fun (kuay tiow sen yai) noodles used in the Drunkard’s Noodles above, though you can often order it with other kinds of noodles, such as thin rice noodles. It’s often served as Kasma serves it, with a hot chilli sauce made from various red peppers, garlic, lime, vinegar, fish sauce and sugar.

Fermented Rice Vermicelli – Khanom Jeen

Khanom Jeen Namya

Khanom Jeen Namya

Making Khanom Jeen

Making Khanom Jeen

I wanted to include khanom jeen because this possibly is the only noodle common in Thailand that does not originate with the Chinese and is indigenous to SE Asia. According to an article in the Thai magazine Krua (meaning “kitchen”) khanom jeen originated among the Mon ethnic group, who introduced them to different SE Asian cultures. The Mon called them kanawm jin. They’re known to be made and eaten in the Ayuthaya era (15th to 18th century) and it’s possible Thais have been eating them since the 8th to 11th centuries (when the Mon empire ruled much of present-day SE Asia).

These noodles have a delicious, chewy texture made from older rice (rather than “new crop”). It’s a fermented noodle: the rice is soaked for many days, then kneaded by hand, pounded and then left to sit for 3 days. It’s eventually extruded into boiling water (see above right) and afterwards placed in cold water and rolled into skeins (as in the picture below right).

The picture above right shows the extrusion process at a noodle shop called Ko Joi in Krabi; we’re lucky enough to eat there every time we visit Krabi. Be sure to see my next blog on Ko Joi at the start of next month.

The picture above left shows Southern-Style Rice Vermicelli Topped with Spicy Fish Namya Curry Sauce (Khanom Jeen Namya Pak Tai) from Wang Derm restaurant in Nakhon Si Thammarat. It’s a dish that Kasma teaches in the Evening Series Advanced Set E-2 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2C, day 4.

Khanom Jeen Namya

Khanom Jeen Namya

Khanom Jeen

Khanom Jeen in Khorat

Above left is another version of Khanom Jeen Namya, the Southern-Style Rice Vermicelli with Spicy Fish Curry Sauce. This version is from Ko Joi in Krabi, where they make their own noodles. It’s been mixed together with some of the pickled cucumbers that are served with the noodles.

Above Right is a typical khanom jeen stall at Khorat Market in Northeastern Thailand. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the skeins of khanom jeen noodles. Here you choose one of the curries or sauces in the containers in front to be served over the noodles and then add in some of the vegetables in the very front row.


If you want to learn to cook delicious Thai noodle dishes yourself, come take a Thai Cooking Class from Kasma. Nearly every series has at least a few noodle dishes.

Don’t take my word about the number of noodle dishes in Thailand: check out my earlier blog: Thai Noodles – An Amazing Variety.

And for some perspective on Pad Thai, check out Kasma’s blog: Pad Thai: The Origin and Making of Pad Thai.

More Blogs on Noodles


Written by Michael Babcock, August 2014

Favorite Thai Soups

Michael Babcock, Friday, August 1st, 2014

Over the years I’ve come to have some favorite Thai soups that might not even be known to people who haven’t traveled in Thailand or taken Kasma’s Thai cooking classes. This blog looks at 4 of my favorites, soups I prefer to the better known duo of soups seen in pretty much every Thai restaurant, at least here in the U.S..

Those two soups are, of course, Hot-and-Sour Prawn SoupTom Yum Goong – and some iteration of Tom Ka – a coconut-based soup with galanga, such as Chicken Coconut Soup with Galanga (Tom Ka Gai) – perhaps the most common version in America – or Seafood Coconut Soup with Galanga (Tom Ka Talay) – perhaps the most common in Thailand.

Don’t get me wrong: they are delicious soups. It’s just that there are others that deserve to be just as well known. And in Thailand there are numerous versions of tom yum (hot and sour) soups; such as one that includes a whole, fried fish.

So in no particular order, here are four other Thai soups to enjoy.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Southern Thai Oxtail Soup (Soop Hahng Wua)

Oxtail Soup

Southern Thai Oxtail Soup

Hmm. Did I say in no particular order? Actually, I think this might be my favorite, especially for a winter’s day. It’s a fairly spicy dish, as Kasma teaches it in the Evening Series Advanced Set B-3 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2A, day 1. It’s quite easy to make: cook the oxtails with salt until tender; toss in the potatoes, tomatoes, onion and other ingredients and cook until nearly done;  season to taste with fish sauce or light soy; finish the cooking and add some white pepper, a bit of lime juice and palm sugar as needed. It’s very tasty and, as a bone broth, it’s also very nourishing. (See the article Broth is Beautiful by Sally Fallon Morell.) This is one I love to make in the winter; it’s pretty darn good in the summer as well. In Thailand you’ll see it at some of the truck stops in the south.

Southern-style Turmeric Chicken Soup (Tom Kamin Gai Bahn)

Turmeric Chicken Soup

Southern Turmeric Chicken Soup

I don’t believe I’ve ever come across this soup in the United States, save in Kasma’s cooking classes: she teaches it in the Evening Series Advanced Set F-2 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2C, day 5. I’ve had it at a couple of places in Thailand down south. Like the Oxtail Soup above, and many Thai soups, it’s a soup with the ingredients surrounded by a mostly clear broth. Again, you get a healthy bone broth, this time flavored with lemon grass, galanga, garlic, shallots and, as you might guess from the name, fresh turmeric; the turmeric gives it the lovely golden color. Kasma makes it with 10 to 15 crushed Thai chillies to give it a bit of heat. Again, add a bit of lime juice , finish off with fish sauce and sugar (both to taste) and you’ve got a delicious soup that lights up your taste buds. Kasma makes her version using whole quail: they make a really good broth.

Hot Galanga Beef Soup with Holy Basil (Neau Tom Ka)

Galanga Beef Soup

Galanga Beef Soup

When I’ve had this soup in Thailand, it’s slightly different than the version pictured here and which Kasma teaches in the Evening Series Advanced Set F-3 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2C, day 3. In Thailand the beef is stewed, so quite well-cooked. In Kasma’s version, beef slices (sirloin or skirt steak) are added at the end by bringing the soup to a rolling boil, adding the beef and then turning it off so that the beef is very lightly cooked. I have to say, I prefer her soup; we get different and better beef here in the U.S. This is a soup that can be incendiary – it has both dried red chillies and fresh Thai chillies. There’s also a sour component from tamarind juice and a quite noticeable flavor from the holy basil leaves. Just a delicious, fiery-hot soup.

Golden Pumpkin Coconut Soup (Kaeng Liang Kati Fak Tong)

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

I debated including this soup because it is really Kasma’s creation; I’ve never seen it anywhere else than in our own kitchen. This is a very rich soup: the base is 4 cups of coconut milk. One of the keys to the soup is making sure you have a very ripe squash/pumpkin; we prefer to use a ripe kabocha squash. Further flavor comes from ground shrimp, kapi shrimp paste and chopped jalapeño or Fresno peppers. At the end, fresh lemon basil is added for an added dimension. This is a very hearty soup: a little bit is quite satisfying. Kasma teaches this dish in the Evening Series Advanced Set B-4 and in the Weeklong Advanced Class Set 2A, day 2.

If you’d like to try it yourself, Kasma’s posted her recipe for Golden Pumpkin Coconut Soup. Do use fresh lemon basil at the end, if you can: it adds a very tasty dimension (though Thai basil can be used if necessary).

Before you try the recipe, do read Kasma’s article Cooking “to Taste”


You might enjoy learning how to Cook Thai food from Kasma in a Thai cooking class.


Written by Michael Babcock, August 2014.

Favorite One-dish Meals in Thailand

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

One of the best things about Thailand is the ready availability of delicious one-dish meals, both as street food and in restaurants. This blog looks at 5 of my very favorite non-noodle dishes. I’ll reserve noodles for another time. You can also look at my blog Thai Noodles – An Amazing Variety.

Of course, almost any dish can be a “one-dish meal.” Green Curry over Rice, for instance provides a protein from meat or seafood, vegetables (usually Thai eggplants and pea eggplants) over a starch (rice). Four of the dishes here, though, are often thought of as stand-alone dishes and eaten most often by themselves as a quick breakfast, lunch or (even) dinner.

Several of these dishes are Chinese-influenced; these are the one-dish meals I order the most in Thailand. I’ll save the more “Thai” one-dish meals for another blog.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Basil Pork with Fried Egg over Rice – Moo Pad Kaprao Khai Dao

Pork Dish

Stir-fried Pork dish

I’ll start with one of the most popular dishes in Thailand (and an authentically Thai dish) – Basil Pork with Fried Egg served over Rice.

The picture shows the dish – Moo Pad Kaprao Khai Dao Rad Khao – as it was served in a no-name restaurant in Bo Klua in eastern Nan province in northern Thailand. It comes with a typical Thai-style fried egg - ไข่ดาว (Khai Dao) – literally a “star egg” – with its crisp-fried edges. The dish here is made with larger pieces of pork; I see it more often with ground pork.

Kasma teaches a Spicy Basil Chicken recipe in the 3rd class of her Beginning Evening Series and in the 2nd class of her Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Cooking Class. You can easily adapt the recipe for pork and add a crispy-fried egg at the end.

Pork Leg Rice – Khao Ka Moo

Pork Leg Rice

Pork Leg Rice

This just might be the one-dish meal that I order the most in Thailand: it’s Stewed Spiced Pork Leg Rice with Pickled Mustard Greens, Blanched Asian Broccoli and Hot-Sour Sauce – Khao Ka Moo. The picture to the left is from the food court at Imperial World Shopping Center in Samut Prakan.

Although it’s a Chinese-influenced dish, you find it all over Thailand, though not so much in the Southern provinces that have a larger Muslim population. It is predominantly a street food or found at food courts (which are, basically, street food brought inside). In restaurants you’ll see stewed pork leg (or fried stewed pork leg) mainly as a dish to be served over rice, family style (as in the picture below right).

This dish has an incredibly rich mouth feel – the pork leg is stewed with the skin on, which means it includes the fat in-between the skin and meat as well. You don’t really need to eat very much of this: the rich fat will fill you up. The richness is balanced by the pickled mustard greens and by the hot-sour sauce that you put on top. When you order, you have the option of getting it with a hard-boiled duck egg or without; I always get it with the egg, which typically has been cooked first and then stewed a while with the rest of the ingredients. Yum!

Stewing Pork Leg

Stewing Pork Leg

Stewed Pork Leg

Stewed Pork Leg

The picture above left shows the stew pot in one of Kasma’s classes just after the pickled mustard has been added. The right-side picture shows how she serves it in class – more as it would be served in a restaurant. It does need to be eaten with rice though: it’s such a rich dish.

Kasma teaches this dish during the 2nd session of her evening Advanced Set E Class and on the 2nd day of her Advanced Weeklong Set 2C class.

Poached Chicken Rice – Khao Man Gai

Chicken Rice Shop

Chicken Rice Shop

Another Chinese-inspired dish, perhaps more famous in its Singapore version, is Poached Chicken Rice with Melon Soup and Hot Fermented Soybean and Ginger Sauce (Khao Man Gai). It is often found as a street food and probably just as often at shops which specialize in the dish. It’s pretty easy to find a place that serves it: just look for the plump, hanging chickens such as in the picture to the left, taken at the Imperial World Food court in Samut Prakan.

What makes this dish special is the rice, which is cooked with chicken broth and also chicken fat, a bit like making a risotto; the rice by itself is rich and tasty. The stewed chicken is succulent and juicy. This dish is invariably served with a spicy fermented soybean-chilli sauce and accompanied by a light, chicken-broth based melon soup.

Poached Chicken Rice

Poached Chicken Rice

Poached Chicken Rice

Poached Chicken Rice

Here are two versions of the dish. To the upper left is the dish as Kasma had it last year at the food court at the Imperial World Shopping Center near her Samut Prakan townhouse. The rightmost version is from one of Kasma’s Advanced Cooking Classes.

Kasma teaches this dish during the 3rd session of her evening Advanced Set D Class and on the 3rd day of her Advanced Weeklong Set 2B class.

Black Olive Rice – (Kao Pad Nam Liap)

Salted Black Olive Fried Rice (Kao Pad Nam Liap or Kao Ohb Nam Liap) is another Chinese-influenced dish. It’s not a dish that you see very often in Thailand. The main ingredient is a Chinese salted black olive, which is mixed with shrimp, dried shrimp, green mango, Thai chillies and ground pork. It’s a marvelous dish, full of several different types of flavors and anchored by the black olive.

Black Olive Rice

Black Olive Rice

Black Olive Rice

Black Olive Rice

Here are two versions of the dish. Kasma’s version, above left, presents it more like a composed salad; before eating, all the ingredients are mixed together. The above right version is from My Choice Restaurant in Bangkok. It’s a rare trip to Thailand when I don’t make it by My Choice at least once or twice to get this dish for lunch.

Kasma teaches this dish during the 4th session of her evening Advanced Set D Class and on the 2nd day of her Advanced Weeklong Set 2B class.

Bitter Melon Stir-fried with Egg – Mara Pad Kai

Bitter Melon & Egg

Bitter Melon & Egg

This is a recipe that is very easy to cook and very healthy. Bitter melon is a vegetable that is said to help regulate the blood sugar and here it is served with eggs, still one of the healthiest foods you can eat. This is a dish that I cook often at home, particularly when I’m on my own. Start to finish, including prep time, is about 10 minutes or less. Serve it over rice and you’ve got a satisfying, healthy meal.

Try it yourself using Kasma’s Bitter Melon & Egg Recipe. Or try my variation – Bitter Melon, Chorizo and Egg – for some extra pizzaz. (You also can substitute Thai sour sausage for the Chorizo.)

Kasma teaches this dish in her Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Class as an add-on on the 5th day.


Check out Kasma’s Menus for Evening Advanced Classes and her Weeklong Class Menus to see the full range of what she offers in her cooking classes.


Written by Michael Babcock, July 2014

Wat Phumin in Nan – The Murals

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Perhaps the most famous temple murals in Thailand are at Wat Phumin in Nan in the North. This is a quick look at the history and at some of the enticing scenes that can be found there, taken on our visit to Nan in January of 2014.

The temple murals were one of the features of Northern Thailand temples that most intrigued me when we visited there this past January. Most temples had murals and some of them were quite fascinating (as were the murals at Wat Phumin).

(Click images to see larger version.)

Mural #1

The artist & his lady

Much of the information in this blog comes from the book Reading Thai Murals by David K. Wyatt; copyright 2004 and published by Silkworm Books in Chiang Mai. (Reading Thai Murals, Amazon) Rather than being comprehensive (you can read Wyatt for that), I’m going to quickly go over some of the history and then include a slideshow of images that caught my eye as I wandered around the interior of the temple (for quite some time).

Seen here, to the left, is, perhaps, the most famous of all the images from Wat Phumin. Anyone who has visited Nan has seen it on any number of souvenirs, t-shirts and posters. Local tradition has it that this image shows the artist, Thit Buaphan, himself with a female companion.

Wat Phumin #1

Wat Phumin exterior

Wat Phumin #2

Wat Phumin exterior

The main building at Wat Phumin is both the “ubosot” (ordination hall) and the “viharn” (meeting hall). (At some temples these will be two separate buildings.) It’s in the shape of a cross (cruciform) built on the back of two giant nagas (the naga is a mythical serpent, much like a water dragon). The main entrance is guarded by two “singh” (mythical lions).

Buddha Image

Main Buddha image

In the center of the building there is a 4-sided Buddha statue, with a Buddha facing in each of the 4 directions (towards the doors). The statue is in a posture known as “Subduing Mara” or “Calling Earth to Witness” and represents the Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment. At that moment, Mara mocks Buddha and asks how he can claim to be enlightened, who is there to witness his enlightenment? The Buddha takes one hand and points to the earth, indicating that the Earth Mother Goddess will bear witness.

Murals

A wall of murals

Really, though, the main attraction in this temple is provided by the murals. The picture to the right shows how entire walls are completely covered with murals. These murals were painted beginning in 1894 by a Thai Lue artist named Thit Buaphan, who was well known for painting the murals at Wat Nong Bua (also in Nan Province). He had many assistants and the work continued into the 20th century.

The main story represented here is a story of one of the Buddha’s past lives – one of the so-called Jâtaka stories. There are roughly 550 “official” stories and, in addition, another 50 or so stories about previous lives that are included in a collection called the Paññâsajâtaka, known mainly in Burma, Northern Thailand & Laos.

Mural #2

Mural of the main story

At the time the murals were painted, Nan was a separate kingdom that was a vassal-state to the Kingdom of Siam. In 1893, Siam made Nan give half of its kingdom to the French to become part of French Indochina, in order to appease the French. One of the reasons that Thailand was never colonized was because, on several occasions, they made gestures such as this to appease the western powers. Obviously, this move was not popular in Nan.

The main story depicted at Wat Phumin is a story that (according to David Wyatt) is found in just a few manuscripts and most likely only published in Laos. Wyatt knows of no other temple where this story is portrayed. The story concerns an orphan, Gaddhana, who went searching for his absent father (said to be the god Indra, disguised at an Elephant). As Wyatt says (on page 21):

. . .The theme of orphanhood thus is repeated, acted out in the panels of the mural at Wat Phumin, though the orphanhood is the condition of lacking a father and not lacking a mother.

The message that viewers were reading off the walls was from a cautionary tale of persistence through adversity, in a world suffused with evil in which virtue was rewarded eventually.

Mural #3

Woman weaving

Wyatt says the story was chosen as a subtle criticism of Siam’s actions in giving Nan’s land away, chosen because more overt criticism was impossible.

Along with another Jâtaka story on the walls, and interwoven as part of the stories, we see the portrayal of ordinary, day-to-day life in the late 19th century; it is these depictions that set the murals apart and account for their fame. Amongst numerous individuals in the midst of daily activities, we also see representations of Europeans, hill tribe people, animals and lovers, both heterosexual and transgender. It is a marvelous celebration of life.

Slideshow – Murals at Wat Phumin in Nan

Rather than point out slides and themes, I’m going to insert below a slideshow of some of the wonderful images that you can see at Wat Phumin. Where I’m able, I will point out what is being portrayed (often relying on David Wyatt); otherwise, I’ll let the slide speak for itself.

Rather than setting the slideshow to run by itself, you may want to simply click on each picture to see the next image, so that you can go as slowly as you might like to enjoy the images.

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Mural #1
Mural #2
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wat-phumin-09
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wat-phumin-11
wat-phumin-12
wat-phumin-13
Mural #3
wat-phumin-14
wat-phumin-15
wat-phumin-16
wat-phumin-17
wat-phumin-18
wat-phumin-19
wat-phumin-20
wat-phumin-21
wat-phumin-23
wat-phumin-24
wat-phumin-25
wat-phumin-26
wat-phumin-27
wat-phumin-28
wat-phumin-29
wat-phumin-22
wat-phumin-30
wat-phumin-31
wat-phumin-32
wat-phumin-33
wat-phumin-34
wat-phumin-36
wat-phumin-37

According to local tradition, the rightmost figure is the artist, Thit Buaphan

Gaddhana asking his mother who was his father

Gaddhana and his mother. The 2 boys above are playing a game

Close-up of Gaddhana and his mother

Transgender couple

Women going to market

Men & women flirting

Woman at spinning wheel and an aggressive musician

Mural showing a woman weaving

Hilltribe people with a dog barking at them

Elephant and soldiers

The Buddha and disciples

The artist, Thit Buaphan, and his lady companion

Europeans at a dock

According to Wyatt, a Nan monk

"Helping seek the Lord Buddha" (Wyatt)

Serpents; perhaps a depiction of the Buddhist hell realm

Europeans unloading a ship with (apparently) 4 London bobbies

Close-up of Europeans unloading a ship

"People entering a city" (caption says)

"Escalator" picture; caption says they are on their way to heaven

Mural #1 thumbnail
Mural #2 thumbnail
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Mural #3 thumbnail
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Written by Michael Babcock, July 2014

Yum Saap Restaurant – A Thai Chain

Michael Babcock, Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Yum Saap – ยำแซ่บ แซ่บครบรส – is a restaurant chain specializing in Northeastern (Isan) food; there are around 50 branches, most located in and around Bangkok but also found as far afield as Chiang Rai and Phuket. On our last visit to Thailand we had a meal at the branch at the Imperial World Shopping Cener in Samut Prakan. Here are my impressions. (note: แซ่บครบรส is translated as “full flavor.”)

(Click images to see larger version.)

Yum Saap Restaurant

Yum Saap Restaurant

I enjoy eating at Thai restaurants of all varieties. It’s fun every once in awhile to try out the food at one of the Thai chain restaurants. Imperial World is a shopping center that is about a 10 minute klong (canal) ride and walk from our townhouse in the neighborhood of Nakhon Thong in the Samrong district of Samut Prakan (found on the edge of Bangkok). The basement of Imperial World houses a food center, which is a popular lunch destination for us, and also many restaurants, including Yum Saap. We decided to give it a try at the end of December last year (2013).

Restaurant Logo

Yum Saap Logo

Coconut Drink

Blended coconut drink

Yum Saap has a whimsical and very noticeable logo, as you can see to the left. It’s a clean restaurant, furnished not unlike chain restaurants in the U.S. (such as Denny’s or IHOP).

One item we ordered was a “Coconut Frostie” – นำ้มะพร้าวปั่น (Nam Maprao Pan), which arrived before the food. It’s a refreshing drink, not overly sweet (as some are).

Eggplant Salad

Country-style Eggplant Salad

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

As might be expected, their menu had a fair number of ยำ (yum) type salads. The menu had pictures of every item and my eye was immediately caught by Eggplant Salad (Country Style) – พล่าหมูมะเขืออ่อน – (Phla Moo Makeau Awn). I had never seen an eggplant salad made with the Thai eggplants. I wanted to try it. It did not disappoint. It included pork and was spicy and sour, with a bit of sweet. I’m hoping Kasma will duplicate this recipe for a future class! When Kasma likes a dish at a restaurant she’ll write down the ingredients and flavor profile so that when we return home, she can de-construct it and come up with her own version. Quite often, I find her versions better than the originals. Many of these show up in her Advanced Thai Cooking Classes.

Another delicious dish was the Grilled Chicken – ไก่ย่าง (Gai Yang), served with two types of dipping sauces – น้ำจิ้ม (Nam Jim); one sauce was sweet and the other was spicy and a bit sour (made with roasted chillies).

Stir-fried Morning Glory

Stir-fried Morning Glory

Vegetable Stir-fry

Vegetable Stir-fry

We ordered two other dishes. The Stir-fried Morning Glory – ผัดผักบุ้งไฟแดง (Pad Pak Boong Fai Daeng) above left. The 4th dish was Vegetables Stir-fried with Oyster Sauce and Squid. (I’m unable to find this dish listed on their online menu so can’t give you the exact name.)

All in all, the food was quite acceptable. Two of the dishes were very good and others were also good. What impressed me was that the food was authentic Thai food – it did not seem as if any shortcuts were taken. It was spicy and flavorful. I only wish I could get food that tasted as good at the chain restaurants here in the U.S.!


Location

Imperial World Samrong
999 Sukhumvit Road. Samrong Nua,
Muang, Samutprakarn 10270
General Phone : 0-2756-8217-9
Email : olarn_kit@imperialplaza.co.th
Imperial World Website
Imperial World Facebook page
Map of location of Imperial World, Samut Prakan
Bus routes to Imperial World
Google Map: for Imperial World, locate Big C Supercenter in the upper left corner.

Yum Saap Restaurant - ยำแซ่บ แซ่บครบรส
Imperial Samrong Branch – สาขา อิมพีเรียล สำโรง
For address & map – see Imperial World above. Restaurant is found on the basement floor.
Phone: 02-756-9991
Yum Saap Website (be warned, it’s one of those irritating Flash-based sites); the English option does not appear to work so it’s mostly in Thai, though the menu includes English names.
Yum Saap Facebook page
Information Page with list of branches – (Original Thai version)
Review of another branch (Original Thai Version)
Bangkok Eats Review of Yum Saap, MBK (A different branch)


Written by Michael Babcock, June 2014

Bo Klua – Visiting the Salt Ponds

Michael Babcock, Sunday, June 1st, 2014

We recently traveled to Bo Klua (also spelled Bo Kleua or Boklua) – บ่อเกลือ – a district in Eastern Nan province in Northern Thailand right on the border of Laos. A translation of the name would be “Salt Ponds”  (เกลือ (klua) means salt). This blog explores some of the sights we visited. Bo Klua is well worth a visit.

The town of บ่อเกลือใต้ - Bo Klua Tai  (ใต้,  tai, meaning south) is some 90 km from Nan, about a two-hour drive up twisty, windy mountain roads, to an elevation of around 1,100 meters. (Here’s the Google map of the route from Nan to Bo Klua Tai.) Along the way we stopped to enjoy numerous mountain views.

View #1

View on the way to Bo Klua

View #2

View on the way to Bo Klua

(Click images to see larger version.)

Doi Phu Kha National Park

Doi Phu Kha National Park – อุทยานแห่งชาติดอยภูคา – in the Luan Prabang Range in Nan province, is the largest National park in Northern Thailand. It is directly adjacent to the district of Bo Klua and a good place to visit on the way. Its most noticeable feature is Doi Phu Kha – Phu Kha Mountain – which is 1,980 meters high. There are numerous trails for hiking; accommodations (cabins) and camping are available.

Park Sign

Michael & Sun at the park

Park View #1

One of the views at the park

Above left are Michael (that’s me) and our driver, Sun, standing in front of a park sign on the way into Doi Phu Kha National Park, with Phu Kha mountain the background. The park is full of beautiful views, such as the one above right.

"Cherry" Blossoms

Flower blossoms at the park

Park View #2

Another beautiful view

The National Park is home to Chumpoo Phu Kha (Thai: ชมพูภูคา – Bretschneidera sinensis), a tree with attractive pink flower bunches. Although they were not in bloom when we visited in January (they bloom later, in the spring), there were other trees with beautiful pink blossoms. The trees we saw (see above left) are often mis-called “sakura,” after the Japanese cherry tree; they are actually a completely different tree (not a cherry) indigenous to Thailand.

I’ve put in another of the stunning views at the park above right.

For further exploration:

The Rock Salt Pits

The name of the district – บ่อเกลือ (Bo Klua) – “salt ponds” – tells you about the main attraction here. For centuries salt has been extracted from these ponds and the salt has provided prosperity and power for the region. People still come here to see how the salt is extracted and to purchase it for their own use.

Salt Pit #2

Getting salt water from a well

Salt Pit #2

Another way to draw salt water

Salt is still manufactured much as it has been for centuries here. The first step is to extract the salt water from the wells. On the left it is being extracted in the traditional fashion: by lowering a bucket down into the well, hauling it up and putting it in a clay pot. The second operation we saw (picture on the right) used more modern methods: pumps were used to draw up the water rather than relying on manual labor.

Salt Oven #2

The two ovens

Salt Oven #1

Boiling away the water

The next step in the extraction process is to boil the salt water until much of the water has evaporated. The resulting salt is then put in baskets and suspended over the ovens to further dry it out.

Then the salt is packaged and sold. These days, iodine is often added to the salt to prevent goiter due to iodine deficiency. We saw it for sale in both forms: iodized and non-iodized.

The following blog has some good information on how the salt is produced:

Town Walk

Strawberry Patch

Pick your own strawberries!

Temple Sign

Sign for Wat Bo Luang

The best way to see everything is to walk through the town, from the one salt operation to the other. On our walk, we passed a temple with a sign also in Northern script (above right) and continued to the edge of the buildings to a field where you could pick your own strawberries; you could also buy strawberry plants. On our way back, we stopped in at the temple.

Wat Bo Luang – วัดป่อหลวง

Temple

A temple building

Temple View

Temple view

The temple is a good example of a local northern Temple. There were two simple buildings open with different Buddha statues. As with many northern temples, there were murals on the walls, both behind the main altar and along the sides leading to the altar. When we were there towards the end of our day this January, the sky and clouds provided a lovely backdrop for one of the buildings and the naga protecting it.

Buddha #1

Buddha & Murals

Mural Close-up

Mural close-up

Here is the main Buddha statue and a close up of the wonderful mural behind it. (Click on the pictures for a larger image.)

Mural #1

Buddha’s moment of enlightenment

Mural #2

Buddha’s “Parinirvana”

These two images are murals that were found on the side walls of the same building. The mural to the left depicts the Buddha at his moment of Enlightenment. Mara (represented by the green demon and the black elephant to the left) is mocking Buddha and asking how can he say he is enlightened. Mara asks: “Who will vouch that you are enlightened?” Then the Earth Mother Goddess (in the center) arises and says: “I will vouch for his enlightenment.” She then wrings out her hair and the resulting flood washes Mara away.

On the right is a representation of the Parinirvana of Buddha, where he gives his final sermon, lying on his right side, prior to leaving his body for nirvana.

Buddha #2

Another Buddha statue at the temple

Mural Close-up #2

Another mural close-up

One of the other buildings was also quite interesting: it had two Buddha statues under a mural with yet another Buddha image. The mural behind these statues had two fantastical creatures, one of which is shown as a close-up on the right.

(Click pictures to see a larger image.)

A Bo Klua Breakfast

When we stayed in Bo Klua this last January, we went looking for a quick and easy breakfast place. We found a place typical of so many restaurants in Thailand, with very basic decor and basic food that was delicious.

This roadside place had a menu that was in Thai and English, indicating that Bo Klua gets a fair number of foreign tourists. The menu was called เมนูอาหาร – menu ahaan (ahaan means “food”) – and the English on the menu says “Fast Foods Menu.”

Restaurant

Roadside restaurant

Thai Omelette

Thai Omelette over Rice

You can see that there’s nothing fancy about it: a roadside restaurant that opens onto the street. Our driver ordered an omelet – ไข่เจียว (Khai Jiow) – over rice. The menu had a “Minced pork omelet” - ไข่เจียวหมูสับ (Khai Jiow Moo Sap)  – but our driver doesn’t eat pork so he ordered it without pork instead.

Noodle Dish

Rice Noodle Dish

Pork Dish

Stir-fried Pork dish

Kasma ordered a noodle dish (above left), which the menu called “Wide rice noodles with vegetables and meat” – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแห้ง (Kway Tiow Haeng). The dish on the right, which I ordered, is called “Rice topped with stir-fried pork and Sacred basil + Fried egg” – ผัดกะเพรา + ไข่ดาว  (Pad Kaprao + Khai Dao). A dish made pad kaprao (stir-fried with holy basil) – prepared with any kind of meat or seafood you can imagine - is one of Thailand’s favorite dishes. (See my blog on Basil Pork – Moo Pad Kaprao.) Here the dish came with a typical Thai-style fried egg - ไข่ดาว (Khai Dao) – literally a “star egg” – with its crisp-fried edges.

Where to Stay or Eat Lunch or Dinner

My previous blog was on Pongza Restaurant and the Boklua View (Resort).

Further Exploration


Written by Michael Babcock, June 2014