Thai food for the Adventure seeking white guy
Trip Start Nov 15, 2010
49Trip End Ongoing
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Jok- Jok is a popular Thai breakfast food. It is rice porridge but the rice is pulverized and thick. Most jok is pork, but I have found one place in town where they serve chicken. But I eat the pork jok when that's all there is, just tell them to hold the meat and add an egg--same price. Everyone has their favorite jok place and opinions are strong. The jok stand at the Thanin Market in North Chiang Mai opens at 6 AM and closes at 8:30 or when he runs out--whichever is sooner. Thais usually buy pa tong ko (sp?), a doughy fried bread to tear and put in their jok. It is a little greasy for me, but I am adjusting.
khao pow gai-- this is a steamed rice dish with a mix of stir fried veggies and chicken spiced by a large amount of locally grown Thai basil, which is slightly hot. This is a lunch favorite of Thai office workers.
pad ke mao gai sen yai-- this is a spicy version of pad zie ew, which you have probably eaten if you have been to Thailand. A thick wide noodle which takes on the gravy flavor of the veggie meat mix, pad ke mao sen yai is spicier. If you order pad ke mao you get this with rice instead of noodle. Noodle is better. It was my lunch today at the Chiang Khian market--25 baht (about 85 cents) for a heaping plateful.. This market caters to college students, so portions are large and prices are small. I enjoy being the only falang there. They have made their peace with making my food as spicy as the locals, but they still stare at me when I eat it.
Suki nam gai-- this is a great dish of sauteed vegetables, mainly chinese cabbage and wilted lettuce and 2-3 kinds of local mushrooms, served over sauteed chicken and soup. You can order it without soup (dry) but it is not as good. Besides, I don't know the Thai word for dry.
If you prefer pork substitute the word "Moo" for gai. If you want vegetarian some of these dishes can be done veg and some can't-- just ask for "jay". They don't eat much beef here. "Pet" is the word for duck--they eat a lot of duck, but it is pricier than chicken.
For a real treat, go to the Sabaii Jai restaurant (sign is in Thai only, I think it means "my joy") on Huay Keow Road between the University and the Kad Suan Kaew Mall. There you get the Isaan (Northeastern) signature plate of grilled chicken [gai yang] (cooked over coals and incredibly moist, green (unripe) papaya salad [somtam], and sticky rice (khao neow). It is a bit pricey at 100 baht ($3.25)- but hey- you get half a chicken.
With the papaya salad you can order it without crab, which is recommended ( order "somtam thai. my sie poo" My sie means don't want and poo means crab. (WM thinks inland crab with questionable refrigeration in a raw salad is asking for gastric trouble, but hey, it's your gut) They will ask you how many chiles you want--I can barely handle three and as the chile marinates the salad gets hotter, so if you get too many chiles , eat fast. because it gets spicier.
This is my favorite Thai food.
Apparently I am eating a macrobiotic diet, very small amounts of meat, minimally processed food (the only processed food I eat are rice noodles), lots of vegetables. There is a lot of sodium in this diet, but I sweat so much I figure I need it. The Thai Health Ministry food pyramid recommends eating 5 colors of food every day. I eat a lot less white than back in the world, no bread or dairy at all, and a lot of rice. It is now mangosteen/yellow mango/pineapple/rambutan season all at once. Yellow mango is almost too sweet.