Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snack a Day 2008. Snack #31: Bananas in Coconut Milk

All of a sudden I was in front of this dessert stand while on my way to find some dinner.

Immediately I was trying to take pictures while two women on a motorbike made fun of me. Oh well, who but a crazy person would take photos of large metal bowls of mostly consumed desserts? Laugh away. That reminds me: while taking a pictures of my shawarma recently, a man of unknown European descent stopped dead in his tracks and asked, “WHY!!!" He looked genuinely concerned. I wanted to tell him I'd seen the Virgin Mary. I told him the truth. He was unimpressed. He quickly ducked into a massage parlor.

I'm getting off track. Today's snack was bananas in coconut milk. When done just right this dessert tastes just like, don't laugh, apple pie alamode. Really. When the super sweet and ripe bananas cook, they mostly fall apart and take on a texture not unlike cooked apples. The coconut milk isn't exactly like melted ice cream, but you can use your imagination. Of course, there's no crust of any kind, so the comparison is flawed. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Today's version was not made with ripe enough bananas, so they kept their shape, and still tasted mostly like bananas. Regardless, the dessert was sweet and rich.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #30: Barbecue

Ran into my friend Ek just after having bought today's snack and asked him just what it was. He said barbecue. Barbecue? Not satay? Yes, barbecue he assured me. There you have it.

Pork grilled with tomatoes, peppers, and pineapple. Finished off with a sweet sauce, these sticks are some of the better street meats I've had. Even though I see this on almost a daily basis this is the first time I've sampled this snack. Worth trying.

Here's looking at you meat.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #29: Takoyaki

Foreign snacks are everywhere. Of course, to talk about what is foreign, begs to bring up what is "native". It's complicated. For now let's just leave it at that. Today's snack is definitely an import. These fried balls are what we in the snack business call takoyaki.

In Japanese, I imagine Takoyaki just means fried octopus. The fact that in Thai the word for octopus and squid is the same complicates the matter of what you're actually getting. Anyhow, takoyaki is made of batter, octopus, ginger, green onions, and fish shavings. It's topped with mayo and sweet sauce. There are choices of filling at this stand. The woman kept trying to suggest "ham" after I had already ordered my takoyaki with pla-meuk (squid/octopus).

I ate one ball without incident. The next ball tasted funny, as did the next one. I bit half way into another to learn that the funny taste was in fact hot dog.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack#28: Poh Piah Thod

To continue the theme of the "snack a day" project I had to break one of the most important snacking rules: don't eat food that isn't being made in front of you. If something is not being made right then and there, at least make sure it is very fresh. Oops, that sounds like two rules. When I purchased these spring rolls they were long since cold. They also turned out to be greasy and unsatisfying.

Spring rolls filled with noodles, carrots, and mushrooms can be very nice when topped off with sweet chili sauce. Or so I imagine.

Luckily not all was lost as E had purchased a delicious mango and sticky rice on the way home.

If you think this looks good, you are right. It doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #27: Kanom Plakrim Kai Tao

Today's snack was found from a vendor who was also selling what I bought yesterday. Not the same vendor though.

The guy doesn't look very happy about me taking a photo. I asked and he was okay with it, but only okay. The point of interest is not front and center, but on the right hand side.

That there is kanom plakrim kai tao. Sweet and salty tapioca noodles. The sweet noodles come in a sweet syrup, the salty ones come in salty coconut milk. This is not the most picturesque way it is sold. That would be a vendor carrying two ceramic pots, one containing sweet, the other containing the salty noddles. The noodles are mixed when a purchase is made. You get the idea, no? Anyhow, this vendor has a very nice snackmobile nonetheless.

A good version of this snack is a nice treat. Mixing the sweet, and the rich salty noodles together creates a very nice balance. This version unfortunately was watery, mushy, and bland.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, snack #26: Lod Chong

Green tapioca noodles, coconut milk, sweet syrup, water, and ice makes a sweet refreshing snack on a hot afternoon. Unfortunately for me, this one also contained jackfruit, which I am allergic, and it gave me a most uncomfortable sensation.

It was certain;y refreshing, if only briefly.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #25: Phad Thai

A late night last night meant lots of snacks to make it until normal meal times. Today, what might be considered meals were snacks. Or maybe meals were simply doubled up. Anyway, this afternoon a mobile phad thai vendor caught my eye and made my day.

Clockwise from upper left: onions, tofu, peanuts, coconut for kanom beuang, pork, and dried ahrimp. At 20 baht, phad thai sans the animal products seems like a good deal for the vendor. Wonder about how it might taste as well. Won't knock it till I try it.

A great way to learn how to cook Thai food is just by watching your food being made in front of you.

This second lunch, first dinner (there was a second), or snack certainly hit the spot.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #24: Luk chin moo

I made a mistake. I thought this snack was luk chin pla, or fish balls, but was sorely mistaken. They were pork. My bad. Anyhow, I was drawn to this vendor due to the fact that they were being steamed right then and there, as opposed to grilled, as I've covered before when I declared snacks like these a desperation snack.

When prepared in this way, they are tender as opposed to rubbery like the grilled version. Topped off with a spicy sauce, they're quite alright.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #23: Kanom bang

Yeah, it's a big piece of toast okay? I call it "The Big Toast." Today was the first time I have ever personally purchased one. If I'm not mistaken I've had "the big toast" with satay on occasion, and once underneath a mound of artificially colored and flavored ice. Lovely. Today was just toast.

You see, toast, or anything for that matter, tastes much better when cooked over a fire.

There are a number of fresh condiments at this toast mobile: margarine, sugar, jam, spicy paste, and sweetened condensed milk.

Here's the takeaway in my kitchen: toast with sweetened condensed milk and sugar for two.

In other bread product related news, it looks like Austin over at Realthai has been busy today as well. Essential reading.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #22: Shawarma

If foreign food is what you want in Bangkok, then foreign food is what you shall have. An appointment in just the right part of town meant i would get to indulge in a Chicken Shawarma on Sukhumvit Soi 3, also known as Soi Arab.

Soi Arab is a real experience not to be missed. I urge you to go if you've got some extra time in Bangkok. It's like stepping into another region of the world, but one that doesn't really exist anywhere else. Northern and Western Africans, Middle Eastern men in various robes and head dresses, women in Burkas, and even a few ladies of the night from the nearby redlight district, all mingle on this unique street. Not a good place for a drink though. If you're so inclined, you can indulge in hours upon hours of tea drinking and sheesha smoking. Not a bad way to spend the evening.

Today was just a quick stop at a favorite spot for a chicken shawarma.

I could probably eat two or three.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #21: Kanom Kui Chai

Oh boy dumplings! I always love things with fillings. Whereas my recent post about salabao was about disappointment, this snack was just right. Kanom kui chai can either be steamed or fried. After a number of days of heavy eating, the steamed version was a welcome sight.

Kanom Kui Chai can be filled with any number of things.

At the top and bottom you have ones fill with a kind of green. I'm not quite sure what it is, okay? On the left you've got what might have been bamboo shoots. I could be wrong. Any ideas? The one on the right was filled with taro. I can't pick a favorite. I can heartily recommend the mixed bag.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #20: Fried Shrimp

Did you know that for every pound of shrimp caught, five pounds of other sea creatures are killed? Should have looked that one up before I ate today's snack.

Near Siam Square, another junk snack appeared. Another junk consumer made a purchase.

Fried shrimp with sweet chili sauce fulfills a particular junk food craving. There's certainly a lot of shrimp to be had in Thailand. There's a lot of great shrimp and a lot of not so great shrimp. This falls into the latter category. After what I read today, I might not be eating shrimp anymore. I'm not ignorant of the realities of the unsustainability of worldwide fishing practices, but whenever I see the numbers, it is particularly alarming. Maybe it's time to give up shrimp. Or: get it while you can.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #19: Pineapple

I was having a thought about trying to find all these "exotic" and interesting snacks, and realized that I have at times failed to document the mundane, but no less wonderful snacks that bless the streets of Bangkok.

Today while walking down the black lung inducing Charoen Krung I came across a lovely pineapple vendor. The pineapples were cheap, ripe, and ready. Sounds like a seedy film.

A bag with a whole pineapple will cost you ten baht. Money well spent.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #18: Salabao

Salapao is one of those snacks that is always disappointing. The concept is so lovely: Steamed buns filled with all kinds of lovely ingredients. What could be more romantic? Unfortunately, they are usually overcooked, made with poor ingredients, or just taste off. I dare say they are not delicious. I have spied what look like very nice salabao in Chinatown, but have yet to buy them. Actually, I have had good versions of this snack, it just wasn't in Thailand. Anyhow, once in a while I give them a try to see if I've changed my mind.

I came across this stand after coming off of the Chong Nonsi Sky Train station stairs.

After a bit of fumbling and mumbling, I ended up with two moo daeng, or red pork buns.

Tearing into one of them felt somehow violent, or at least the aftermath evoked images of a violent end. They met the same fate as all the other snacks.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #17: Crepe

Today seemed like the perfect opportunity to dwell on ideas of authenticity. I tried to remember something of the writings of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, or Sartre I had spent all that time reading years ago. All I could immediately recall was Soren Kierkegaard's father raising his fist in the air and cursing god only to be cursed back. Damn. A quick and easy little rant would suffice, but when I pondered how to approach this topic my head spun. Oh well. Maybe next time. Maybe one of my lovely readers has something to say about this. On to the food.

Today was a break from bugs, meats, and coconut inspired desserts. Yes, it was time for a crepe.

This stand sets up in front of 7-11 every evening. If you don't want a crepe, you can sate yourself with a sausage or maybe some chicken, though there are certainly better places to get those things.

Here's my crepe in progress. I opted for banana and chocolate. My friend the fruit vendor came over to see what I was getting and I was only a little embarrassed. He did seem amused. Maybe it was all the picture taking.

Here it is in all its glory. Not so bad really, but certainly not great. This one was my second ever. Will likely be my last.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #16: Sweet Potatos (Man)

If you are craving a starchy snack, this vendor's for you. This man sells peanuts, soy beans, corn, and sweet potatoes.

The sweet potatoes were calling my name.

No sauce, no frills, no complaints.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #15: Kiaow

Today's snack came courtesy of my co-worker.

They reminded me of something you might get in some generic Chinese restaurant in America. In spite of this, these pork filled wontons tasted rather nice with a sweet chili sauce. Sorry for no photo of the vendor. It likely looked like this: a sweaty man or woman laboring over a large vat of oil for a good part of the afternoon, displaying row upon row of deep fried snacks. If popular the product moves quickly. If not, the artery clogging slabs accumulate flies and become stale in the Bangkok heat.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snack a Day 2008, Snack #14: Kai ping

Another day brought with it another new snack. Sort of. More on that in a minute. Today's snack is Kai ping, or roasted eggs. They're a cheap way to get some needed calories, and a new way to enjoy eggs.

This vendor wanders the streets carrying his coals and eggs with him. I was excited to buy some eggs,

and was also more than happy to buy some sticky rice in a banana leaf.

I passed on the dried squids.

A couple weeks ago a vendor tried to pass off boiled eggs as grilled eggs. The sure give away was the color. It was all wrong, and so was the flavor.

These looked a bit like Saturn. They're gorgeous, and with a bit of soy sauce, an egg has never tasted so good. Often, the simplest food really is the best.