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My New Contributor

16 May

Just a quick introduction on my new contributor.  Mr. Baseball from Hong Kong!

Mr. Baseball (obviously not his real name) is a native of Hong Kong who has been friend of mine since I was 12

and he’s a foodie…!

Since Hong Kong is a major food hub in Asia,  I am so excited that he’s going to write about the food scene in Hong Kong and hopefully beyond.  I hope that you, my dear readers are enjoying his posts like I do.

Welcome Aboard ! 

Food price on the rise again

7 Apr

The other night I turned on the TV to see the news anchor reading out a list of food with the rise in price  including the soybean oil and milk.  When she was reading up to the price of 800 ml milk, I had enough,  it was 2 in the morning and I shouldn’t be worry about going to the supermarket and won’t be able to afford to buy milk.

The soybean oil I can live without, though the producer wanted to raise19 baht more but the ministry of commerce only allowed 9 baht rise, but still, many of the supermarkets do not have the oil in stock, but funnily enough, from footage I saw, there are plenty of “palm oil” on the shelf (Remember when it was a shortage last time?)

Now I think I will really need to be strategically plan my grocery shopping now that the price of everything seems to be on the rise, while my freelance income just doesn’t go anywhere near it.

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.

exvzx.jpg

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.

 

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/

 

 

 

Martha Stewart’s Farmer’s Market In Bangkok

13 Jan

My sister send me an e-mail about a month ago about “Martha Stewart’s Farmer’s market” in Bangkok she was so excited about it. I was not, but I would go with her so I marked the date down.  13-16th January at Urban Space Ratchaprasong

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Martha Stewart, but a big fan of farmer’s market. So today because my original job was cancelled I made a plan to check it out. (Yup,  that is a positive side of doing a freelance job)

 

Big Signboard : no one can miss it

I’ve seen the signboard set up earlier, it’s big enough that no one would miss it.  This is probably the first time the “Martha Stewart Living Magazine” Thailand has done something like this so I was kind of excited to check it out. I was daydreaming about farmer’s market I’ve been to in many places and was hoping that it would be like that here, after all it’s Martha Stewart’s magazine’s event!

 

The whole farmer's market

Because the space the event is held in is in the semi-open air.it’s not hard to see the whole area and I was a little disappointed to see that there aren’t many shops …….or shoppers at all. But it’s only a first day and it is Thursday. Perhaps it will be more crowded on the weekend.

 

information booth

There weren’t much to see really,  I was hoping to see more organic stuff like organic meats and honey and stuff like that…but I didn’t but it was forgivable, since this is quite new to Thailand.

 

Organic strawberries Jam and drink

In Thailand, the concept of having organic food is quite new comparing to the west. We just started having Green Market movement not too long ago. Organic Farms still very new.

Organic Vinegar

If the farmers market become a trend in Bangkok, then I would be very glad. It would encourage the buyers and suppliers to meet face to face without having to go through middle man like big supermarkets.

 

MY organic Coffee

From having a look around.  I realized that most of the products are produced in Thailand, but what I’m most impressed about is …The RASAYANA RAW FOOD CAFE

RAW Food booth

The information I’ve got from chatting to the owner was that this is probably the only full on Raw Food cafe in Thailand. I will have to find more information on that and will definitely make a visit to the restaurant in Sukhumvit 39 soon. It will be interesting to try the Thai RAW Food and get more information about RAYASANA.

 

At Siam Square

8 Jan

I went to an area called Siam yesterday.  For those familiar in Bangkok, you probably know where I’m talking about.  For those who aren’t,  Siam is shorten for Siam Square, an area full of young and trendy shopping places, contains 3 big shopping malls on one side,  Siam Discovery, Siam Centre and Siam Paragon. On the other side, there’s an open-air shopping boutiques called “Siam Square”

Siam Square has been popular from generations to generations with rapid changes in term of infrastructures and shops. With the rental price getting higher, it is difficult for shop keepers to keep their business running, One of my friends, Tim whose clothing brand ” Heidi’s Secret”  used to have a shop at Siam Soi 3 now moved to Thong Lor, another trendy area because of the rental hikes.  However, there are still things that hadn’t really change hidden right in the middle of Siam Square.  Even I was surprised.

There are probably many fixtures that had become symbols of Siam Square, from the restaurants such as Sri-Fah, Doo-Dee Noodles or even New Delight.  Some of these restaurants at Siam are probably about 40 years old. Personally though,  when I think of Siam, one thing that comes to my mind is the stall selling  various snacks

 

Snacks Shop at Siam Square

Although the shop moves around over the years, but the snacks they sell remains the same and one of the popular ones is called ”  Kha-nom-krok-Bai-Toey”  I am not sure if there’s a name in english, but I’d call it Pandan Sponge Cake.  It has a great aroma and color from pandan leaves and the texture is very light and spongy. I am not sure about the history of this in relation to Siam Square, but since I started going there, probably nearly 20 years ago, the Pandan cake was already existed. It would be very interesting to find out though. Apart from the sponge cake, the shop also sells other thai snacks such as ” Bah Bin” made from rice flour and shredded coconuts as well as fresh fruits.

 

Uncle Boonchuai and the shrine, in front of Starbucks closed to Novotel Siam Square

Not far from the shop, I noticed for the fist time, an old man sitting next to the Buddhist shrine. I must’ve walked past this shrine thousands of time, but never took much notice about it. So after praying to the shrine I decided  to sit down and talk to him.

His name is Boonchuai, a 75 year old man who had been in Siam square area for more than 50 years and had been guarding the shrine for the past 15 years. I think he’s super cool. We talked about Siam Square, his work, and also how holy the shrine is.  He seems to have a firm belief on that, so I asked him whether his wishes ever come true…but he didn’t answer.

The Moon God “Rahu” And I and the “black” food Part 1

7 Jan

I was told recently by Auntie Mimi, a family friend of mine who seems to have a superstitious power that I will need to worship the “Moon God ” or “Phra Rahu”  since he will be in my life for the next twelve years.

When I first heard about this, I was in shock, and the first thought that came into my mind was that   Will I have bad luck for the next 12 years? That can be no good.  However, Auntie Mimi said that if I worship him the right way, my luck can change as Rahu can also brings good luck.  So I spent the next half an hour listen to her, wrote down all the requirements and trying to comprehend what needed to be done.  I won’t go into details here as it might be a bit confusing.

 

Rahu under the Hindu God, Narai (L)

Basically, to worship Rahu you’ll require to offer him “Black”  food, black candles and incenses and some flower garlands. Mimi told me to make the merit by offering food to the monks, which started in semi-disaster but ended quite well last Wednesday. As well as releasing the eels and doing some other rituals which I didn’t quite complete.  Finding Black food is quite hard enough and what I did was offering monk Black Rice and fried thousand years eggs (yes there’re black eggs!) with some minced pork in soya sauce. The dessert was black jelly.

 

Food offering to Rahu comes in a golden tray along with 12 incense, a candle and flower garland

This week, because I was still in the new year celebration mood I forgot to prepare the food so what I did yesterday was to go to a temple called ” Wat Traimitr”  which I had visited once before.  They have a big statue of the Moon and Sun gods and also have some food already prepared on the tray.  Unfortunately I could not get the photos of all the food as the shopkeeper feared that someone might copied her!  But what was on the tray though were such as coffee candy, banana toffees,a thousand years egg (the pink one on the photo)  some black beans and something else I couldn’t remember all wrapped  in the plastic bag.  I thought that was kind of poorly done and I hadn’t seen any hot food on the tray.

 

Some food on the tray

I asked the lady for advice what kind of cooked food should I offer to the Rahu, it seems like she didn’t know much either so she just said  “Black Chicken,  Black whole chicken”

Hmm.. I don’t think I want to buy 12 chicken every week to give to the monk though, but maybe I will cook something with the black chicken and hope that it will turn out right next time.

I will try to post what I made for the monk every week with the “black” food. Lets see if I can be creative about this.