Cooking in Hot Season

We returned to the Big Mango to discover not only the aftermath of political mayhem, but also (maybe related?) the height of hot season.  To the point of the “riots” and “chaos” that was widely reported, I want to assure you that things were not nearly as anarchic as they were represented in the media.  Give a cameraman a burning bus and they’ll tell you the whole world is coming to an end.

That said, there continues to be political instability, but nothing that should prevent you from coming for a visit!

Hot season is the real issue here.  The Royal Thai Meteorological Department announced that April 27th should be the hottest day of our year, since that is when the sun is directly overhead Thailand.  However, because of a high pressure system moving in and some expected rain, they thought that the 24th would actually be the hottest day.

Sure enough, it topped out at 37 C / 99 F with about 45% humidity.  Relatively dry, actually.  What kills us is that it doesn’t cool down at all during the night (28 C / 82 F) and that it lasts so long.  This past year, Bangkok had 115 days with temperatures over 35 C.

Let me be clear: I’m not complaining.  I’m just using this to set up an entry about summer foods!

When the weather is warm the best thing is to do as little cooking as possible, at least cooking that heats the kitchen.  Salads and fruit dishes are great choices.  A few days after our return we had a nice lunch on our porch, ceiling fan whirring away and the warm breeze pushing the palm fronds back and forth.


On the menu, a large chef’s salad with cumin chicken breasts, ham, cheese, eggs and all sorts of veggies, served with a wonderful buttermilk dressing.  A side dish of old-fashioned potato salad and a plate of fresh buttermilk biscuits rounded things out, washing it down with a few glasses of a dry rose from France. 

The Thais say that nature gives us the right fruits at the right times.  During hot season, we’re dying for very sweet, very watery fruits, so that is when we get the plumpest lychees, the juiciest watermelons, and the tastiest mangoes.  I know that Zakiah misses the mangoes of her childhood India and I’m trying to eat as many as I can on her behalf.

The favorite way to eat mangoes is the dish, Sticky Rice and Mango.  This very glutinous rice is soaked overnight then steamed in a bamboo basket that looks like a large ice cream cone.  It is then seasoned with some coconut milk and served with a drizzle of salty coconut cream, a sprinkling of toasted mung bean seeds, and a freshly cut mango.


Wanting to shake things up a little, a did a play on this traditional dish by making a cardamom and coconut milk rice pudding based on a recipe from the NY Times.  You make a creme by scalding regular milk and coconut milk and letting cardamom pods and lime jest rest in it for several hours.  Then it is reheated with sugar and cooked rice (I used sushi rice for the texture) until it forms a pudding.  Add a little freshly-grated nutmeg and some vanilla and then cool.

Served with fresh mango and a squeeze of lime, it is the perfect sweet treat to end a summer’s evening!

Oh, it is nice to be back in my kitchen.


0 thoughts on “Cooking in Hot Season

  1. The rice pudding looks amazing. I’m almost convinced that you can’t get good mangoes in the States. I eat a ton of mango every time I’ve been to Mexico. It’s amazing!

  2. Oh Chris, those mangoes look so good. For me the best way to eat a mango is all by itself.  I keep getting  letters and mail from all my relatives…” we are thinking of you so much, because the mangoes are now in full season, and we wish you were here!” I am glad you are thinking of my while eating them love. Love you.

  3. regarding to  todays media’s report we also have to use our own judgement while reading..
    I like the popular Thai dessert so much –  Mango with sticky rice –  yummy

  4. @dynamiqvision – That was the plan.  A secret ploy by the food industry (or the fitness industry?) to get you to eat!
    @TheCheshireGrins – The only really tasty mangoes I found in the US were at the Thai temple in Berkeley.  They seemed to have the source.  Elsewhere, they’re always stringy.
    @ZSA_MD – It occurred to me that we’re all either truly thinking of you, or just rubbing the fact that we have fresh, juicy mangoes in your face.  I’m assuming it is the former as I’m sure none of the people who love you would tease you so cruely as to tell you about some delight that you can’t have.  Right?  =)
    @yang1815 – @agmhkg – Amen.

  5. I love mango and this looks like just the dish that my family would love. Tonight after dinner the question was “what’s for dessert?” There was on serving of leftover rice pudding and one scoop of strawberry swirl ice cream. My husband offered to arm wrestle son#1 for the rice pudding! Ended up my husband ate ice cream. I was glad son#2 was out with a friend or things could have been ugly.

  6. Oh, that salad looks great. I can’t wait for the farmer’s market to start up and the hot weather to roll in. Although I’m sure I’ll probably be too lazy to whip up anything by then.

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