Daily Archives: December 13, 2010

Memoirs from Northeast Thailand – Part 1

Since arriving in Kham Pia, a small village of 400 farmers and rice growers in Northeast Thailand, time has slowed to a trickle. Things are different than in the rest of Thailand; and I think the villagers like it this way. For the ones that don’t — the occasional number of restless young — they shed themselves of it like a skin that is too tight.

People and animals share the same living space here. This is not just limited to dogs and cats (our homestay dog shared my living space one day and ate my towel), but to livestock such as chickens, cows and numerous birds too. There are other animals also, such as lizards, which collect in corners like dust collects back home. As I type, there are at least nine geckoes on one wall, of various sizes and dispositions. One larger lizard, at least a foot long, scampers back and forth underneath a sofa. And the bugs! They are everywhere! In the morning, they cover our floors like dew. The termites are especially messy: they seem to emerge all at once, in cycles depending on the weather, and shed their wings in order to begin a new life of crawling and scampering. Their discarded wings blanket the floors like leaves in the fall.

None of these things are that surprising, though, as Thai houses are built differently than Western homes. Our homes back home are meant to seal off Nature and the rest of the world, creating a seam between the wilderness and civilization. Here, homes are built with walls missing. Where our front door would be, their entire wall opens to the street, like a child’s dollhouse that is sliced crosswise, opening on hinges. Continue reading

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Thai Chicken Salad – Laap Gai

Our favourite Isan (North East Thailand) meal, which we have occasionally made since returning home from our travels there, is minced chicken salad, or Laap Gai. Like other typical Isan cuisine, it is spicy and rich in flavour. Traditionally it is made with ground, roasted sticky rice in it, though I usually skip this step for simplicity without noticing the difference. I enjoy eating this dish, as the Thai people do, with handfuls of sticky rice, or wrapped in lettuce leaves like a wrap.

Follow this link to read about my experiences in Thailand

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chicken breast or turkey breast, minced or ground. Ground chicken is usually available at grocery stores.

4 shallots, thinly sliced

3 tbsp fish sauce – yes, it smells vile, but it’s an integral ingredient in Thai dishes

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp chilli powder

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion (optional)

1 tbsp cilantro, chopped (optional)

1 green onion, chopped

1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped

 

Method:

1. Place the ground chicken, shallots, red onion, fish sauce, lime juice and chilli powder into a medium bowl and mix together.

2. Heat a wok and on medium heat and cook the chicken mixture for about 6 minutes until the chicken is cooked. During the last minute, add the mint, cilantro and green onion.

3. Serve with sticky or glutinous rice or in lettuce leaves, similar to lettuce wraps.


Wild Berry Sorbet

Blackberry sorbet...or what's left of it

Ingredients:
**ice cream maker required
8 cups fresh washed or frozen berries  – this recipe used blackberries
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)

Directions:

Blend the berries, water and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth. Add the berry mixture to a large saucepan and stir in the sugar – mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately remove it from the heat. Give the mixture a chance to cool at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, and then press it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any small seeds, especially if you’re using blackberries. Discard the berry solids (i.e. seeds) and mix the puree with the vodka (optional). Allow the mixture to cool and then freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the directions for the particular machine you’re using.