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Palm Oil Shortage in Thailand, a good time for me to get off fried food?

21 Feb

Earlier this evening after a day of work, I decided to go for a quick dinner before going home.  As I went pass the oyster omelette place not far from Taksin Bridge BTS station I didn’t hesitate to walk in.

The truth is I was craving for this oyster omelette for ages, and heard that this place was quite good.  For those of you who do not know what it is, basically it is a Chinese dish originated from Teochew/Fujian area with the main ingredients of oysters (of course!), corn starch, eggs and bean sprouts accompany with Sriracha or chilli sauce mixed with chilli vinegar.

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As I was halfway through the dish thinking that my omelette was not as crispy as it should be, I remember about the “Palm Oil shortage” that’s currently occurring in Thailand. In some supermarkets, the palm oil are out of stocks and the price of the bottled oil raised by about 9 THB (approx 30 cents) The shortage has become a problem that it has become under the DSI (Division of Special Investigation)’s investigation!

In many of the forums, the topic of palm oil shortage has become a concern. I mean,  many of the street food in Thailand are fried, and those fried food stalls are widely known that they re-use their oil which is very unhealthy. With the crisis now, consumers are concerned about the health factor and thinking about putting off the fried food (at least until the crisis is over), not to mentioned that many of the stalls are out of business including my neighborhood fried pork/chicken.

Reading many topics posted in the food forums, many people are asking about the recipes/menus that are not involved oil, I think people are already forgotten that original Thai food do not really involved oil. There are still other way to cook like grilled, boiled and steam. Maybe this is going to change the trend of the food we eat. Maybe we are going to go back to the original way of eating?

As I was finishing my dinner with 1/4 leftovers (it was too oily for me.. very ironic I know) I asked the shop owner how the palm oil shortage effected the shop.

“We had to cut down on using the flour as the cost price is higher”

Hmm.. not sure if that’s relevent, but he definitely said that he has to pay for the higher price of the oil.

Do you pay for the eggs by Kilo? I asked  as I was handing him 100 baht note(*Thailand had recently introduced the eggs to be sold by weight)

“No, we still doing it the old way.”

I thanked him, picked up my change and wished him luck.

 

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Pomegranate Juice is everywhere

26 Jan

For the past week, I’ve been in and out of Bangkok’s Chinatown (Yaowaraj) and met several fantastic people, especiallyan old uncle who sells Chinese medicine and a man who knows Chinatown from inside-out.

One thing that I notice about Yaowaraj is that apart from fantastic food and culture, but there are a lot of vendors selling pomegranate juice.

Stall 1

The price of pomegranate juice in Yaowaraj is varied, usually it’s from 40-50 baht (approx USD$1.50). A bit on the expensive side but very refreshing and differ from the usual coconut and orange juice.

 

Stall 2

I can’t remember what my mother had told me about the benefit of pomegranate, but apparently it is very good for the skin. Lots of vitamin C and good for your heart and of course, lots of  anti-oxidant too.

 

Stall 3 - Peeling the pomegranate

I can’t think of anywhere outside Yaowaraj that has many stalls selling the juice..seriously I’m now curious to know how many stalls exactly are on the main street. Maybe I’ll count when I go there next time, which I feel that it might be very soon as my current obsession is Chinese Opera and with the Chinese New Year coming up next week, there will be many troupes playing around Chinatown. All I have to do is to hunt them down.

Check out my Chinese Opera photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/55315730@N07/sets/72157625887769608/

 

 

 

Roti Seller in the Chinese Shirne

23 Jan

The good thing about walking around everywhere is that I’ve got to see things that people who drive all the time don’t. These past few days, I’ve been walking around the Chinatown doing research and I’ve been walking the back alleys through to the different streets which was very fun.

Today, on the way home, I decided to walk to the Chinese Shrine by the river called Chow Sue Kong, which you can actually see from the boat on Chao Phraya. My mother said to me that she usually go during the Chinese New Year to pray, so when I walked past it, I thought that I’d check it out.

I didn’t get to go into the shrine because I found something more interesting, “A Roti Seller in the Shrine” It would not be interesting since we have roti sellers everywhere. But…this man was interesting and I couldn’t help but took many photos of him and bought the roti too.

Roti Seller in the shrine

For those who do not know what roti is, it originate from India where  roti is eaten with the curry as a main meal, here in Thailand we eat it as snacks. The roti in Thailand is basically a  pan-fried flat bread drizzled with condense milk and sugar. Sometimes, there are variations like eggs, banana or chocolate sauce etc. My favorite is the basic one with only condense milk.

Roti Cart

The man selling roti is definitely Thai, I didn’t ask many questions as I didn’t want to intimidate him or scared him off.  I only took photos of him, bought his roti, showed him the photos and left.

He's making my roti

In Thailand we always associated the “Kaek” (indian/middle-eastern/muslim) with Roti or peanuts or garments…so I guess Seeing him, very “Kaek”  looking and making the roti really stress the idea of the roti sellers.

 

Sprinkle the Sugar

I was so impressed with him that I walked out of the shrine totally forgot what I came to do in the first place. Now I know how easy to get there, I will have to pay another visit, perhaps during the Chinese new year where it is more lively. That would be fun.

Recipe: Super Easy Turkey Congee

28 Dec

I have an a-yi (the housekeeper in Chinese) at home who’s been with us for more than 10 years.  No matter how much she says she hates cooking, but she’s been doing it everyday, and she’s doing well in that department (with severe lack of inspiration though).  Anyway… every time I’m in the kitchen, she always nearby looking curiously at what I’m doing and always doubt my cooking skill as I don’t always follow the recipe.

Ok, I must admit that I am a V-E-R-Y messy cook and love to improvise, but most of the time my food turn out to be V-E-R-Y good too. Yesterday I made a congee and it was different from what my mother taught her to do.

The basic of making good Congee according to my family friend who’s from Hong Kong  is that you should soak the rice and soak the dry scallop overnight and boil them in the water or broth for two hours or so.  (You can add tofu skin and Chinese mushrooms too just soak them in water overnight as well) Season only with salt and sesame oil. Then just add any kind of meat you like . My favorite would be marinated minced pork and thousand years eggs.

But if you can’t bother… then here’s what I did for my Turkey Congee

Simple Main Ingredients

Ingredients

White rice – 2 cups is plenty//Turkey Broth –  Just plain broth made from turkey bone and water //4 cloves of peeled garlic//Salt//Sesame Oil// Garnish with Fried Red Onion, Chopped coriander, chopped spring onions and sliced and chopped ginger //

How To Make It : Boil the rice  and garlic together in the pot full of broth in medium heat, add in salt and sesame oil.  Bring to boil then lowered the heat and keep on adding the broth (Yes it’s almost like making the Resotto!)  You want your congee to be thick and don’t forget to stir constantly. Once the congee is thick enough, just add the shredded roasted turkey and mix together then it’s ready to serve.

Turkey Congee

Tip:   To make fried red onion tastier,  add a pinch of salt when frying.

This is the basic of the basic of making congee, there are some varieties to it as well.  I like having mine with half boiled eggs and lots of pepper. Making congee is so easy, one can do it wrong, but my A-yi wasn’t really sure what I was doing.  Half way through the making, I realized I forgot to put the garlic in (Garlic brings out more flavor) so I quickly peeled and popped the garlic into the pot.  My a-yi was asking with her puzzled face “You sure you are doing it right?  Which recipe is that?”

I turned to her, smiling and said… “Mine”

Random food photo :Super Easy Turkey Congee

27 Dec

I just finished making the Turkey congee or the rice porridge. It is super yum.
Recipe will be on the next blog.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

What my mother did with the leftover Christmas turkey

26 Dec

While I spent all night thinking what to do with the leftovers turkey we had the other night and couldn’t decide what to make out of it, my girlfriend Mel who’s spending her Christmas in London was online and suggested of making shepherds pie.

The Turkey meat that's about to turn into chicken noodles

Hmm….definitely sounds good, so I thought I would dash to supermarket in the morning to get extra ingredients to make shepherd pies for today’s dinner. Little did I know that shepherd pie wouldn’t be happening.

The turkey had turned into…….Turkey Noodles….THAI STYLE

Yummy noodles

I have to admit  thought that it wasn’t exactly bad. I asked my sister who seemed to enjoy the noodles A LOT how it tasted, she said it taste better than the usual chicken noodles that she asked for seconds.I have to admit that she’s right.

For the recipe of the chicken noodles, I will put it up if there’s a demand for it.

 

 

 

Thai style Candy : My childhood’s lolly.

26 Dec

 

Although I spent my time equally for my education in both Thailand and in Australia, but nothing can beat my childhood’s memory of street snacks. Well..what can I say when, for the first time when I was five or six and I discovered for the first time the packed chips, or the icy-pops or even the dried crumbled instant noodles. Basically those things that were forbidden in my house, I tried them all. .

Everyday after school, I would ran out to get those snacks  from many of the carts parked in front of my school. While other stalls came in basket or pushed carts selling variety of food,  there was a man who came with his old wooden box contained two colored semi-melted sugar, the scoop to scoop the sugar with, wooden sticks and scissors.

The candy stall

The magic of this is, he only used his hands and scissors to shaped the semi-melted sugar dyed in red and green into different animals.  To these days, I still don’t know what it is called in Thai, but I remember I was in awe every time the lolly seller man in front of my school use the small scissor to cut the sugar into shape.  My favorite shapes..well.. there are monkey with the fishing rod, rose, and dragon which is the hardest..

Candy Man with his carefully wrapped candy

Fast forwards almost twenty years, the old man that sold those red and green lollies has disappeared. The other day I went into the Centennial celebration of  the prestige Vajiravudh College, an all-boys Thai boarding school, I encountered the sugar lolly box again and I ran straight into it.  I asked him to make a dragon…and watched the sugar man made it.  The magic wasn’t there anymore…I was secretly disappointed….the dragon was not like what I remembered and it cost me 20 baht.

My 20 baht dragon in making

This man claimed that he had been doing this for over 20 years, but he could not make the dragon the way it was… I looked at it as he poked the stick into pink foam attached to the top of the stall for photos.  I wasn’t really sure what to think.. maybe the color? maybe it was too hard for him to make that’s why it was 20 baht? Anyway, from a small chit chat I made with him, he said yellow and white color sugar are added into the original dark green and rosy red color sugar, the color also changed into less scary looking (ie eatable looking color as to not to scarred mothers off ).

The Dragon, Seriously?

Well.. I thought to myself I should stop questioning. I was happy enough to find this.  The candy man wrapped my dragon in a plastic bag.  If it was me 20 years ago, I would’ve said to him not to bother, as I would love to have a tast of that sweet candy right away, but me 20 years later…I only wanted to help this man out so I also bought 2 more candy sticks for the price of 10 baht each.

Multi color semi-melted sugar paste

I walked out from the lolly cart with 3 lollies in my hand..semi-satisfied but on the other hand, at least I now know that a part of my childhood still existed. That’s enough to make me happy

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Because today is Christmas….Merry Christmas everyone!…We had roasted Turkey on Christmas Eve, and sure enough, my next entry will probably be leftovers Turkey Congee or something more creative…Stay tune for the recipe..!