Category Archives: rice

What your khao mun gai place says about you

Have you ever read those stories promising to tell you all you need to know about yourself, based on something completely random, like, what’s in your left pocket at that particular moment, or what ice cream you had last week? I certainly do! Aren’t the findings always totally arbitrary, and frequently infuriating? Yay, random generalizations!

So let’s pass judgment, even though we know absolutely nothing about each other! Where do you like to eat your Hainanese chicken rice?

Montien Hotel Ruenton Coffee Shop (54 Surawongse Rd.)

You like tradition, and stability, and saying you know more than anyone else. You like big portions, and creature comforts, and stuffing your face. You are kind of boring and your friends are only pretending to listen to what you say. You also really like good chicken rice. For the record, this is my favoritest chicken rice, EVAH, still, after all these years. I like this chicken rice almost as much as I, like, commas.

What makes it isn’t really the big tranche of plump, tender chicken meat (dark meat or breast), topped (or not) with a sliver of skin, nestled next to two slices of congealed chicken blood and resting atop sliced tomato and cucumbers. It’s not even really the rice, glistening with chicken fat. It’s the sauce. People who really like sauce will LOVE this dish, which comes with not one, not two, but FOUR sauces: sweet thick, slivered ginger, brown bean/garlic, and soy sauce/chili. Yum!

Khao Mun Gai Gwon Oo (at Thalad Gow, Yaowaraj)

You are straightforward and like simplicity and honesty. You dislike and mistrust frou-frou, complications and anything overly ornate. This means you are a little bit like a hobbit, or other magical little creature that people idealize without actually envying.

I like the chicken rice here because it is about pure chicken flavor. The boiled chicken is presented simply, shredded and without skin, on top of rice carefully cooked in chicken stock and set off by slivered cucumbers for texture. The sauce and soup are almost like afterthoughts. This dish is about substance, not bells and whistles. It’s almost … wholesome (for a dish where chicken fat plays a starring role).

Gai Tawn Pratunam  (Petchburi Soi 30)

You like nostalgia, reminiscing over your plate of food with dusk threatening, headlights sliding past you as you contemplate next week’s work project. You are social and trusting and tend to believe the best in people. Also, you are sort of old.

Random enough for you? Honestly, this place is pretty good, even if I don’t get to it as often as I could. I would totally have included it in my book … if not for the, uh, 50 other food stalls that I put in it. So there’s that. They are proud of their dish and take care in selecting and presenting the best chicken (non-egg-laying female chickens, to be precise) that they can. The soup has good flavor and service is efficient. It has all these things going for it. They don’t need little old me anyway. We can still live together in harmony.

Shanghai Chicken Rice (Rama IV)

You yearn for adventure, newness and surprising others. You hate convention and conformity, and like to be onto the Next Big Thing before anyone else. However, your tendency to tell people about the Next Big Thing helps to undermine you, and can sometimes threaten to make you look like an asshat. You are probably a food blogger.

Because this place is open 24 hours, you are also probably a bit of a night owl. Nighttime is good for you, because this place is a lot less crowded when it’s not serving lunch. You have your choice of steamed or fried chicken, rice with Chinese seaweed, or “Shanghai chicken rice” with a dipping sauce liberally flavored with chili oil. For you, variety is good, and the possibilities are endless.


Filed under Asia, Bangkok, chicken, food, food stalls, restaurant, rice, Thai-Chinese, Thailand

What’s Cooking: Nam prik ki ga

Now, nam prik ki ga is not the most popular chili dip out there. It is certainly not the yummiest sounding: roughly translated, it means “crow shit chili paste”. That said, it doesn’t look, or probably taste, anything like crow poo — bright, tart and fiery, it is a perfect foil to crisp veggies, barely hard-boiled eggs and a couple of well-seasoned pork meatballs, if you like that kind of stuff.

This is Grandma Yuwadee Bunnag’s recipe.

Nam prik ki ga (serves 4)

-6 prik chee fah

-7 small red chilies

-11 garlic cloves

-1 Tablespoon kapi (shrimp paste), wrapped in foil

-8 white shrimp, cleaned and cooked (reserve cooking water)*

-3 limes

– 1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce

-1 teaspoon nam than peep (palm sugar)

-pork meatballs**

1. Set chilies, garlic and shrimp paste to roast in oven at full whack until blackened (about 20 minutes). They will look like this when done:

2. Chop cooked shrimp into pieces.

3. Squeeze juice from limes.

4. Pound garlic and shrimp paste in mortar and pestle until a paste forms. Add chilies a few at a time, taking care to peel them of their blackened skins before pounding. Add shrimp until all is incorporated.

5. Add 1 teaspoon shrimp cooking liquid, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Taste for seasoning and add more cooking liquid if paste seems too “dry”. Finished paste will look like this:

6. Serve with fresh vegetables, rice and, if desired, fried pork meatballs.

*Use dried shrimp if you can’t use fresh shrimp.

**Make pork meatballs by mixing ground pork, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Then roll mix into palm-sized patties and fry in a Tablespoon of cooking oil until browned:

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Filed under Asia, Bangkok, cooking, food, pork, recipe, rice, Thailand

What’s Cooking: Nam prik kapi

People have different opinions on things, even though they are all wrong. One of those opinions is that pad krapao (stir-fried meat with basil on rice), crowned with a fried egg, is the ultimate Thai “square meal”.

I don’t see it that way. Nutrition-wise (your protein, carb AND fiber), my money’s on nam prik kapi (shrimp paste chili dip), accompanied by fresh veggies, rice and a couple of nice plump Thai mackerel for good measure. THIS is what a lot of Thais think of when they think of nam prik. This — dare I say it? — makes it one of Thailand’s most iconic dishes.

Nam prik platu (for 2 people with semi-hearty appetites)

-2 Tbs small green eggplants (makuea puong)*

-3 Tbs dried shrimp, blanched to minimize fishy smell

-3 Tbs small chilies

-3 limes

-4 large garlic cloves

 -1 heaping Tablespoon shrimp paste

-1 heaping teaspoon palm sugar

-juice of one small orange (preferably of the kiew som variety)

-1/2 Tablespoon fish sauce

-2 Thai mackerel (see below)

For fresh veggie accompaniment:

-handful of white turmeric (cumin khao)

-handful of long beans, cut into 4-inch segments

-cucumber, peeled and cut on the diagonal

-2 Thai eggplants (makuea proh)

1. Pound shrimp paste, small eggplants and garlic with mortar and pestle until mixed.

2. Add chilies and pound. The peppery smell that begins to waft from the mortar means you are finally getting somewhere.

3. Add palm sugar and mix thoroughly. Now this is when Chef McDang, who believes in all-natural ingredients, would give me the side-eye, but: also add a teaspoon of granulated sugar, if you can. It will add to the flavor, I promise.  Mix well until the paste becomes glossy. It will look like this:

4. Add shrimp, fish sauce, 1 Tbsp lime juice and orange juice to mortar. Then add 1 Tbsp hot water so paste takes on a more liquid consistency.

5. Garnish with whole chilies, add more lime juice if needed, and accompany dip with fresh veg, rice and fried Thai mackerel.

(For Thai mackerel)

-Heat oil in wok or deep frying pan and fry until skin is brittle and slightly browned (10 minutes).

-Drain on paper towels and dab to get rid of excess oil.

Note: Instead of simply putting everything on separate plates, you can also take a dollop of the chili dip, flake some fish flesh off the bone, and fry it all with a bowl of rice. Add a little bowl of dip and fresh veggies on the side, and it becomes one of my favorite Thai meals!

* These little guys are frequently maligned by people who dislike their bitter taste, but their tannic quality offsets the spiciness of the chili dip perfectly, so try not to leave these out! Sometimes, hairy eggplants (ma uk) are used instead.


Filed under Asia, Bangkok, fish, food, rice, seafood, Thailand