Results of the second cheesemaking attempt is coming soon… thank you for your patience. In the meantime:
After returning from our trip to the US in late March, Tawn and I had a conversation about the food in Bangkok that we really miss when we are away. In my mind, this list is much shorter than the list of food from San Francisco I miss now that I live here. One of the Bangkok foods that did come to mind was the gai tod (fried chicken) and som tam (green papaya salad) served at Foon Talob (ฝุ่นตลบ) at the Chatuchak (sometimes “Jatujak”) Weekend Market.
As a special treat, Tawn agreed to serve as host for our video visit. You can watch him introducing the cuisine of Foon Talob here:
Otherwise you can read about it and see the pictures below:
Foon talob translates as “dust all over” and the idea is of a Northeastern Thai (Issan) style roadside restaurant, a place where there would be dust all over the place. The restaurant is open air but covered, adjacent to a paved walkway and rows of stalls. In the hot season it is quite warm. But even then it is quite popular, filling up by early afternoon with everyone sitting shoulder to shoulder and back to back in the tightly spaced rows of tables and stools.
Next to the open air kitchen is a little offering for the gods, a bit of food, sticky rice, and water with the ashes of incense scattered on the plate, a request for good fortune and business success that day.
I’m inclined to think that fried chicken is one of the most universal foods. So many cultures have fried chicken … even before KFC arrived! Here, freshly butchered chicken is breaded in a heavily seasoned coating and then dropped into a wok of boiling oil. The end result is crispy on the outside but tender and juicy on the inside. It is served with two sauces: The one in the back is really spicy and the one in the front is mostly sweet with only a little spice. Always, always, always, the fried chicken is eaten with a bowl of sticky (glutinous) rice.
Fried chicken just isn’t Issan fried chicken without a side dish of som tam or green papaya salad. Hundreds of green papayas are shredded each day to serve the customers.
To the green papaya is added lime, tomatoes, dried shrimp, peanuts, sugar, fish sauce, and chilies. The mixture is pounded with a mortar and pestle, making a sound that in Thai is described as “pok pok…” providing a handy synonym for som tam.
The end result is a tangy, sour, slightly salty, and often very spicy salad that is really refreshing in the hot weather.
Another popular side dish is laab (sometimes Anglicized as “larb”). Usually made with ground pork (although you can make it with other meats) the salad has ground toasted rice grains, shallots, green onions, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili flakes fried together then served on a bed of basil and mint. Varying degrees of spice but always a very flavorful dish.
For a special treat, we ordered a grilled Northern Style pork sausage. The meat is heavily spiced and flavorful.
After lunch we headed across the walkway to a vendor serving homemade coconut ice cream. Their twist is that they serve the ice cream in half a young coconut shell with the meat from the coconut shaved out to accompany your ice cream.
You can choose from a variety of toppings: boiled water chestnuts, hearts of palm, peanuts, condensed milk, etc.
Coconut ice cream with young coconut meat, hearts of palm, and peanuts. Refreshing!