Thai street food : Yam Naem Khao tod (fried rice ball salad)

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Nam khao tod is something we discovered in Vientiane, Laos entirely by accident, I ordered out of curiousity, with an “I want what he’s having” kind of mentality. I had no idea what I was about to eat, but drawn in by the arancini like rice balls on the shelf of the street cart.

It’s something I’ve since seen in Laos, and also in the north eastern Thai province of Isaan and made myself a tonne of times because it’s awesome.

The arancini-like rice balls are flavoured with curry paste and deep fried and left to cool before being used to order.

When you order a serve, the lady will take one of the precooked balls, and smash it up, mixing it with raw red onion, fresh chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, green beans, coriander, scallions or spring onions, peanuts and naem – fermented sour pork – in her mixing bowl. In Laos we found it included shredded coconut and mint.

The end product is essentially a cold rice salad, with flecks of crunchy, crispy rice that became golden from the fryer and spicy, sour flavours.

In the Isaan region it’s customary to serve spicy dishes with some raw cabbage and a few herby leaves to help offset the chilli. I like to eat this with a couple of sticks of carmelised barbecued pork sticks known as muu ping. The sweetness works really well with the spicy sour flavours of the rice.

In Laos, nam khao is often eaten as an appetiser, with the rice wrapped up in a lettuce leaf cup.

Useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy’  – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai Sai Prik Khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much. 

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Thai street food : Tom saap (Isaan spicy sour pork rib soup)

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The eastern region of Thailand, known as Isaan (sometimes spelled Isan) is the home of so many great dishes, most of my favourite Thai foods – and a lot of the things you’ll see posted on these pages – come from this area.

In isaan, chilli is a key flavour and this soup is full of flavour and spice.

The ribs are cooked down to create as stock with lemongrass, garlic, chilli, shallots and galangal which is a large part of this dish. After some time of stock development, more ingredients are added including mushrooms, tomatoes, lime leaves and finally dried chillies and lime juice.

Tom saap pork (muu) soup

Tom saap pork (muu) soup

The soup is a thin and translucent.  Watery, but salty, spicy and sour at the same time, with soft flaky meat which falls of the bone and chunky slices of mushrooms. It packs a far bigger punch than it looks like it’s capable of.

Tom sap goes great with other Isaan staples such as sticky rice (khao niao) mince pork salad (laab) papaya salad (som tam or tam mak hung) and grilled chicken (gai yang)

Phrases worth knowing

mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Mai sai prik  Khap – no chilli please (khap is only for males, females use ‘khaa’ )
Sai tung – take away  (literally means put in bag)
Pai sed –  when ordering it means the large size, or special – the difference is often around 10 baht on a street cart .
Tow rai? – how much.
Arroy! – delicious

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Thai street food : Nam prik num (roasted green chilli dip)

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Chiang mai is a great city, full of life and good food at every turn.  There is real food heritage, and dishes you wouldn’t find in western style Thai restaurants. Northern food contains influence from many of the surrounding countries – Loatian, Burmese and Chinese food.

Nam phrik (or phrik) num isn’t a meal as such, but a component of one. Traditionally, in a Thai household a family meal is a selection of lots of different flavours and textures for everybody to eat.
Nam prik num is a flavour of the northern provinces of Thailand and easy to find in Chiang Mai.

A mixture of roasted green chillies, garlic, onion and green aubergines – different from the small round purple ones found in curries – are pounded in a khrok and saak (traditional Thai mortar and pestle) to create a smoky, spicy paste, a salsa-like mix.

Nam Prik Noom eggplant dip - Songkran Festival Gala Dinner at Raming Lodge Hotel
Photo sourced from Flickr via a Creative Commons License. Thanks to Alpha, no modifications made. 

It’s eaten as part of a main meal or can be ordered with sticky rice (khao niao) and raw vegetable sticks for dipping.

In Chiang Mai Khao Soi Jamer Jai is a popular restaurant/food court which sells a number of popular northern dishes and general Thai food. It’s a good place to try the name sake khao soi as well as gaeng hang lay.

Some useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy’  – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai sai prik khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much.

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Thai street food : Ka na muu krob ( crispy pork with kale)

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Street food opportunities are abundant in Thailand, with carts and pop up street restaurants everywhere. When the cover of night falls, plastic chairs are whipped out in front of closed shops, people drink, eat and socialise on the street.

ka na muu krob is a dish of crispy pork and chinese greens in gravy. It’s pretty easy to find this all over the country in pop up street restaurants and mobile kitchens.

Chunks of deep fried belly pork are added to stir fried Chinese kale in a gravy of garlic, oyster sauce, soy and sugar. Based on the flavours and ingredients presumably this dish has Chinese heritage – the use of Chinese kale, known as gailan in Cantonese and oyster sauce another common Cantonese ingredient.

The sauce is a salty, sweet and heavy on the garlic. It’s thin, almost like a dressing but packed full of flavour with the pork which is fatty, juicy and super crisp.  

Ka Na Moo Krob (Crispy pork belly with Gailan) - Koon Thai

Photo sourced from Flickr using a creative commons license. Thanks, Kirk K – no modificatons made.  

I like this, a lot – It’s a go to dish and, like pad kra pao something that’s a guaranteed pleaser if I’m not sure what I want to eat. It’s also cheap and easily found in street kitchens.
A fried egg (khai dow) on the side is an excellent choice and usually sets you back around 10Baht extra. Fried eggs will be cooked in wok with an excess of very hot oil you should expect to get crispy edges. If you’re having trouble getting a soft yolk you could try asking for khai dow mai suk.

Some useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy’  – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai Sai Prik Khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much.
Khai dow – fried egg
Khai dow me suk – fried egg ‘soft’ (hopefully with a runny yolk) 

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Thai street food : Muu ping & khao niao (grilled pork skewers & sticky rice)

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Street food opportunities are abundant in Thailand, with carts and pop up street restaurants everywhere. When the cover of night falls, plastic chairs are whipped out in front of closed shops, people drink, eat and socialise on the street.

Like many of my favoured Thai meals, muu ping (grilled pork) & khao niao (sticky rice)  is from the northeastern area of Isaan.
Sticky rice is eaten as a staple in Isaan and across the border into Laos, a handheld carbohydrate, eaten with the right hand to accompany meats and mop up dips and sauces.

The fatty slices of pork meat are marinated and grilled over coal, often on a streetside barbecue. The resulting pork is sweet, juicy and full of flavour – the perfect hand held meal, a stick of delicious glazed pork in one hand and a bag of sticky rice in the other.

A market stall selling grilled meats and fish

A market stall selling grilled meats and fish

Food markets and street vendors sell muu ping & khao niao all over the country, expect to pay from around ten baht per stick – more in Bangkok – and around five baht for a bag of sticky rice.  Cheap AND delicious!

Some useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
Aroy – delicious
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much

 

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Thai streetfood : Khai Jeow muu (thai style omelette with pork)

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A Thai omelette is a curious thing.

A mix of eggs, pork mince and a splash of soy sauce are poured into boiling hot oil, a ‘thai style’ omelette is different in appearance, ingredients and flavour.

Whereas a European omelette is a slow cooked even texture, the signs of a good Thai omelette are the variations in texture – Crispy dark edges with a light and fluffy middle, it can look more like a poppadum with blistered, glossy skin.

Khai Jeow muu

Khai Jeow muu

Khai jeow is served on top a mound of jasmine rice, with chilli sauce on the side, the thai condiment, sriracha – a tomato sauce, heavy with chilli and garlic – is perfect. If the flavours aren’t quite right for you, use the caddy of flavours on the restaurant table, called kreung prung. It’s not salty, or spicy enough a few spoons of prik nam pla (fish sauce with chilli) will round off the flavours. Aroy!

It’s the Thai comfort food, and although I like it for breakfast it works just as well any time of the day.

Phrases worth knowing

mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Mai sai prik/sriracha/muu Khap – no chilli/chilli sauce/pork please (khap is only for males, females use ‘khaa’
Sai tung – take away  (literally means put in bag)
Pai sed –  when ordering it means the large size, or special – the difference is often around 10 baht on a street cart.
Tow rai? – how much.
Arroy! – delicious  

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Thai Streetfood : Yum Muu Yor (spicy sausage salad)

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Street food opportunities are abundant in Thailand, with carts and pop up street restaurants everywhere. When the cover of night falls, plastic chairs are whipped out in front of closed shops, people drink, eat and socialise on the street.

Thailand, the sausage champion of Asia and there are a few that the reasonably inquisitive traveller will more than likely stumble across. Sai oua, sia krok and muu yor.

Sai oua, a grilled coarse pork sausage made with big explosions of flavour and spice. Sia krok, a pinkish coloured fermented sour pork and rice sausage originating from the Eastern province of Isaan.

Muu yor is also a pork sausage but white in colour, and more rubbery in texture due to the cooking method being steaming as opposed to grilling. It’s got a clean flavour and smooth texture, it carries bigger, hard hitting flavours well.

Yum muu yor: Thai steamed sausage salad

Yum muu yor: Thai steamed sausage salad

Yum, in Thai refers to a spicy salad and moo yor is the main ingredient, to simplify, or anglicise it could be a ‘spicy steamed sausage salad’.

Sliced muu yor is mixed with sliced chilli, lime juice, slithers of onion, garlic, herbs and mixed leaves.

Best served with sticky rice (khao niao) and some smoky barbecued meat.

Some useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet’ – not spicy
phet nit nawy’ — a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai Sai Prik Khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much

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