Whenever I go somewhere on holiday I always try to seek out new tastes and ingredients in an attempt to better understand the flavours that make up country's food. In a short trip I was never going to completely get to grips with all of Thai food. Instead I decided to set myself the challenge of seeking out the best pad thai I could find and to indulge in the kinds of street foods that I can't get back in London.
Pad thai quest part 1
Pad thai is the national street food dish of Thailand. On most street corners you can find a cart dishing it out. Like most national dishes, everyone has their own way of putting it together but this video recipe from SITCA is a great place to start. This recipe also seems to come close to the dishes we ate. We started our search at Thip Samai because it is recommended in numerous food and travel blogs as serving 'the best' so we had to give it a go. This was going to be the pad thai by which all others were going to be measured so it made sense to start at the top. Thip Samai serves numerous variations on the standard dish but we went for the 'superb pad thai'.
Once you've place your order you're brought a selection of accompaniments. We got banana flower, bean sprouts, spring onions and lime segments. On the table were already pots of crushed peanuts, chilli sauces and chilli flakes.
Here's the pad thai when it arrived. I loaded mine with extra peanuts and chili flakes because I'm a bit of a chili fiend given half the chance. I was particularly taken with the presentation of the dish with the noodles carefully wrapped in a fine omelette.
Now, perhaps unsurprisingly I'm a bit of a greedy person so a little later I was after something else to eat. Close to our hotel in Bangkok was a busy little market stretching the length of the street with numerous tasty treats on offer. If in doubt in a new country I'll go for something I've never had before and I couldn't resist finding out what 'coconut egg' was. During the rest of our time in Thailand I never found another stall serving these curious little things but it's definitely something I want again. They were crunchy, crispy gooey, sweet but a little savoury all at once. A very special little thing. I've done a some internet research since returning and I think it was Khanom Buang. Check out this page for more info. This is a neat video showing how another lady makes them.
Our next culinary stop was at one of the ubiquitous roti pancake carts in the same market. Normally when making crepes and pancakes you start with a batter and pour it out on to a hot griddle. Not with these glorious beauties. The stall holder started out with a little ball of dough and deftly pulled it out so that it was transparent and paper thin before putting on the griddle. Here's a lovely video of a stall holder in action. The skill of the food stall holders in Thailand is incredible. The speed and skill they repeatedly demonstrate is awe inspiring. I couldn't resist the classic banana and nutella combo topped off with a drizzle of condensed milk. Yum!