It is impossible to define what is and what is not authentic Thai street food. It’s not about recipes, what is right what is wong.
It is about people, what they enjoy, about everything that goes into the preparation and presentation of the food we call Thai street food.
At the age of five, Tippy’s mother Niang was helping her mother cook food for sale at the market in Surin. Lifeskills and experience she bought with her when she opened her first market in Glouster. Skills passed down to Tippy and in turn to her sisters.
Preparing food they sell at the street markets throughout Bristol.
Personally I do not believe that one can replicate the true taste and flavours of Thai food in a commercial kitchen. What is it about Thai food that sets it apart? What makes it different, a niche that is separate and distinctly different?
What is Thai cuisine?
The question that took me across to Arundel and Thai Time. Following the successful opening of their first restaurant in Forest Row, owners Mark and Bam decided to set up a sister restaurant in Arundel. What caught my eye was their uncompromising committment to promote the authentic taste and flavours of Thailand.
Food normally eaten exclusively by Thai’s.
Thai cooking ingredients in Chichester Harbour
Generally speaking one shouldn’t expect to find an authentic Thai street food cafe in the UK, let alone in Portsmouth.
You don’t find spring roll pastry in Sainsbury’s let alone green papaya for Som Tam. The same goes for M & S and this says a lot about the retail market in the UK.
No problem if you are looking for ready made and frozen meals.
But if it is going to be home cooked you need to know where to look. In Portsmouth, if it’s Thai you are after, you want to find the Thai & Asian Food Mart. Around the corner from the Fratton station. Besides green papaya they stock almost everything you might need. Although I am not sure whether they have the spring roll pastry.
Scratching through the fridge crammed full of fresh ingredients I found small trays of Sadtaw. A bitter young bean like seed which blends perfectly with into a hot Thai curry. Which when bought in a village market, come in a long, flat and wavy, over-sized, bright green seedpod which are usually bound together with a rubber band.
Pak bung, wild morning glory water spinach and cha-om which is a ferny young leaf shoot. A well-loved herby vegetable that is cunningly secreted into Thai omelettes to hide those spikey bits which you get even in the tender tips. Not to forget to mention the short stocky Thai bananas which I think are called gluay nam wa.
But with fifty odd different varieties of banana in Thailand you can never be sure which is which. But if it is Thai there is a good chance you can find it. Jasmine rice, sticky rice, black rice, rice noodle sticks in the three prescribed sizes. Oyster sauce, mushroom soya sauce and fish sauce. Bottles of all sorts, tins of coconut milk, jars of palm sugar and packets of dried chilli.
They even stock Birdy iced coffee in cans, bottles Oishi teas and the notorious Mama instant noodles.
Sampran Riverside, Nakhon Pathom
About an hour away from Bangkok, covering 70 acres the Sampran Riverside is a family-run eco-cultural destination in Nakornpathom on the Ta Chin River. Visitors can experience authentic Thai hospitality and traditional food using organic ingredients. Visitors are accommodated in an antique Thai house and are invited to participate in cultural workshops or to visit local farmers who supply the kitchen with organic produce.
You have to look hard for a high cholestrol greasy English breakfast in Bangkok. Most of the quaintly chic Thai coffee shops don’t understand a pre-cooked perfectly formed fried egg on a croissant does not pass as breakfast. And when you do find what you are looking for it’s pricey, very pricey.
Next post overdue 27/04/2020
Situated in Khun Han of Sisaket Province, Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew or the Million Bottle Temple was built to draw attention to the need to recycle and adopt a sustainable lifestyle.
Work started in 1984 after the monks invited locals to help collect empty green Chang and Heinekan beer bottles. First came the temple and one and a half million bottles later a crematorium, water towers, sleeping quarters and and ablutions. Bottle caps were also used to create mosaics and Buddhist designs inside this unique temple.
Ban Rai is a small unassuming town in Uthai Thani which most busy tourists simply bypass. And by tourists I am referring mostly to cyclists. They are the only ones I know of who venture this far off the beaten track in Thailand. But they are always peddling to get to the next town and seldom stop.
But there are reasons why Ban Rai is both a destination for local tourists as well as a second home for city types looking for an escape.
It is also home to the Na Ta Po weaving and cultural centre which is tucked away off the main road behind the Ban Na Fai Bueng Ta Pho school. They produce and market exquiste handwoven fabrics which are marketed through OTOP and sold at upmarket shops in Bangkok. They also have a small fabric museum which is one of those special places I never tire of.
Every year at the end of the rainy season, the villagers in Nong Prue go in search of the termite mushrooms. These are then sold from stalls lining the road, to buyers who will drive from Bangkok for these rare and sought after delicacies.
They germinate in the organic matter left behind in termite nests after the ants swarm to establish new colonies. They can be found in Phetchaburi, Kanchanaburi and the more mountainous areas in Suphanburi. But the best, the sweetest mushrooms are found in Nong Prue where they can fetch prices in excess of B600 for a kg.