Category Archives: Food

Cravings for Food in Sydney

When you have lived somewhere in a long time, you developed your own local comfort food. That absolutely happened to me in Sydney.

In fact, the first thing I did was getting to Happy Chef for their Crispy Skin Chicken. And through out the Sydney trip, it was my quest to soothe my cravings for food I used to have.

It was a big list from Aussie big brekky to Indian diner and late night kebabs. And I barely got a room for something new. But some dish could be done somewhere new, like lamp shank in Manly Beach or fish & chips in Bondi. Nevertheless, I got to have a real good Turkish ice cream for the first time.

I tried to avoid Thai since it became redundant for me in Bangkok. However, Stilgherrian introduced me to the best of my all-time favourite dish, tub waan. Yes, tub waan at C Bar was better than average shop in the original Thailand. And when I had a night out with Thai friends at the very same pub, they also ordered it. That just confirmed it.

It is fair to say that Australian food has its own characteristics. I used to question it about Australian food. But I look at the variety of cuisines it offered just in Newtown/Enmore area. (And King Street never fell short of Thai restaurants and that’s a fact!)

Furthermore, my cooking also evolved around it with Aussie twist. When I got frustrated that there was no Thai dish my family used to cook for us so I had to make it myself. Then, it gradually had the spin of its own. For examples, kangaroo panang curry and roast chicken stuffed with rice in home-made curry paste. And it went further than Thai cuisine to, to name a few, Fijian-Indian curry, minestrone, cauliflower & blue cheese soup, beetroot & feta salad, my own spin of bolognese sauce. Like they do in Australia.

Coconut Milk Dipping Sauce with Salted Soy Bean

This is one of my favourite dish my parents used to make for dinner.  There are a lot of versions of หลน (Lon), in Thai. Some uses fermented bean curd and add crab. My version is just what I could find in Sydney.

Ingredients

  • Spanish onion, sliced — 100 g
  • Long green chillies, sliced — 100 g
  • Coriander roots — 2
  • Salted soy bean — 2 tablespoon
  • Coconut milk — 1 cup
  • Minced beef — 150 g (ideally, the mixture of pork and prawn but canned tuna works as well)
  • Tamarind puree — 1 teaspoon or to taste
  • Fish sauce — 1 tablespoon or to taste
  • Sugar — just a pinch

Direction

  1. Pound coriander roots, half of the onion and half of the chillies into paste then add salted soy bean and blend the mixture.
  2. Boil coconut milk in a small saucepan, add the mixture and bring it to boil again.
  3. Add meat and keep stirring until it is cooked then put the rest of the onion and the chillies.
  4. The taste should be balanced with salted soy bean, fish sauce, tamarind puree and a touch of sugar.
  5. Simmer it until the onion and the chillies are soft and the sauce is thick. Occasionally stir.
  6. It is essential to serve with fresh vegetable and rice because the sauce is very creamy and rich.

Larb Ped for Boxing Day

We had Red Curry Roast Duck for Christmas. We followed the instruction in Help with Cooking. And the result was quite good but I might tweak the recipe next time. Two of us could only took half of the duck. What happened to the rest was Larb Ped and Duck Fried Rice. Larb is a Isan (Northeast of Thailand) salad style.

Ingredients:

  • Left-over roast duck meat
  • A bunch of Coriander
  • Two Shallots
  • Two Eschalots
  • Three kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced
  • A spoonful of ground roast rice
  • Lemon juice (to your taste)
  • Fish sauce (to you taste)
  • Crushed dried chillies (to your teste)
  • Lettuce

Direction:

  1. Warm up the duck and break it down into small pieces. You can leave the stuffing with it.
  2. Mix all the gradients, taste it and put it on a bed of lettuce.
  3. Enjoy

Go Vegan

For a good cause, I decided to fast for the occasion of Phuket Vegetarian Festival and Stilgherrian was also loosely on board. During the Fast, we were not supposed to consume any meat or animal products. So, no favourite steaks, fish, eggs, dairies or alcohol for just over a week. To be very strict, you have to purify the mind as well as the body by wearing white, meditation and so on. I did not go that far. It is not too hard to find vegetarian food in Sydney but to get a strict vegan dish is a bit tricky.

If I was back in Thailand, where the cult become mainstream, the vibe would help me get through the period and I would feel cleansed at some level. Here, it brought me back the questions about living in the modern world as we try to make sense of everything these days.

  • On the surface, it is definite healthier not to have something to block your artery. But does that lift your spirit off the ground if the deed is focused just on yourself?
  • In developed societies, we are bombarded by trillions of different products trying to get our attentions. How could we find what we really want and need without them telling us so?
  • In every religions, limitation of choice is one of the path to enlightenment. Why do we consume everything what we have in front of us so quickly?

Any answers?

Chilli Attack

Last week news. A Thai restaurant in London were slammed by firefighters and the busy shopping streets were closed for several hours after a report of chemical attack. It turned out to be another post-911 joke when they found out that the cook was just preparing Nam Prik Pao, Chilli Jam (น้ำพริกเผา). Oops!

Thai Cottage

The restaurant has been there for 17 years and, I am certain, they make that recipe on regular basis. How could the neighbours mistake the aromatic fume of burning chillies for a terrorist toxic weapon and make such a report to the emergency? Mind you, when I was making Chilli Basil Stir-fry (ผัดกะเพรา), the kitchen was gassed with garlic and chilli smoke so that Stilgherrian had to poke me with chemical attack quip. But that is the way it is, the way I and most Thais grew up with.

Imagine they wrongly smashed middle-eastern restaurant for the same reason. Are we living in safer world than before or paranoia will lead us there?