Wednesday, June 13, 2007

World's Smelliest Vegetable

I buy a lot of vegetables out of the backs of trucks. It's cheap, it's easy, and it's really convenient.

Recently I decided it was time to branch out and buy some things that I had yet been able to identify.
I came home with this:

It is called cha om. The first thing one notices about this little lovely is the revolting smell. I have lived in Asia for some time, and this is perhaps the worst smelling thing I have ever eaten. As you probably know, durian has no effect on me. Whilst cooking on the stove with eggs and a healthy splash of fish sauce I actually started gagging. Fortunately, the bad smell cooks away.

Cha om belongs to the acacia family. The leaves are harvested when they are young and tender. There's only one use for this herb that I know of. Omelettes. They are either eaten as a stand alone dish or chopped into pieces and eaten with either gaeng som (sour curry)
or with naam prik (chilli sauce; I'll blog this one sometime.)

Many Thai people do not cook. If they do it is often outside due to the strong smells that are associated with Thai cuisine. Cha om is the kind of herb that can make your neighbors complain.

In the last year or so I've tried more snacks than I could have possibly imagined. All the local snack and fruit sellers know me. I have yet to really familiarize myself with all the strange and interesting vegetables. That sounds like a challenge.

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