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I just don’t want to look back and think “I could have eaten that.”

A Day in the Life 5: Temple Food

As a Thai-American I don’t normally go to Thai restaurants, because I can get great Thai food at home. On the occasions that I do go to Thai restaurants it’s typically not very authentic and it’s also really pricey. Why is that?! Anyway, the best Thai food that I’ve ever found in North Texas is at the Buddhist temple. You can always find interesting and very authentic dishes that you normally wouldn’t be able to find at restaurants.

This past weekend my family and I went to Wat Keller, a Theravada Buddhist temple, that we’ve been going to since I was a little girl. We typically go for what I call (probably incorrectly) the lunch service. The monks are allowed one meal a day which is normally at 11am and no later than noon. People who visit the temple bring food offerings for the monks since they do not cook for themselves. Once the monks have finished their meal whatever’s left over becomes a huge pot luck for worshippers.

I want to share with you some of the Thai and Laotian dishes that were offered during our visit. The temple that we go to has a lot of Thai and Laotian worshippers which is why you’ll find both cuisines there. My mother made Kai Pa Lo, which is a five spice stew made with pork, tofu and hard boiled eggs.

img_0540.jpgYou can kind of see the dish my mom brought in the bowl on the right. In this picture you have a large platter of marinated pork ribs that are cut into inch and a half pieces. I couldn’t tell if they were fried or grilled. They were pretty dry which is the way they’re supposed to be. I ate a bunch with sticky rice. Delicious!

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This is a platter of larb, which is a Thai and/or Laos minced meat salad. I can’t tell if this dish was Thai or Laotian, because our foods are pretty similar. This larb had offals in it. Can you see the pieces of liver and tripe? I really enjoyed this dish. It was spicy and bursting with flavor. Lots of lime juice, fish sauce, dried seasonings, green onions and cilantro.

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This is a nice big platter of veggies for nam phrik or chili relish. There are fresh long beans, Thai eggplants and cucumbers. When I was a kid I did not like Thai eggplants. In it’s raw form it’s crunchy, full of seeds and sometimes a little mealy. Now that I’m grown I can fully appreciate this vegetable. I love eating it with nam phrik.

img_0546.jpgThai and Laotian foods are not the only cuisines you can find at the template. Someone brought pizza, barbecue ribs and donuts! 🙂

img_0547.jpgThere’s not a lot left, but the platter to the right is the fish version of larb. I believe it was made with some type of grilled fish. My mom’s version is made with boiled fish, which adds liquid to the dish. I like both versions, but mom’s has to be my favorite.

img_0548.jpgLastly but not least is a large pot of Gang Nor Mai, which is a spicy bamboo and yanang soup. Gang means soup and Nor Mai means bamboo. This soup is sometimes referred to as Gang Laos as well, because of it’s popularity in the Isan region of Thailand which has a lot of Laotian influence.

As you can see from the dishes I’ve shared I ate extremely well during our trip to the Buddhist temple. I can always find items there that my mom normally doesn’t make or doesn’t know how to make. It gives me an opportunity to eat like I would in Thailand, which is nice. It was an amazing day spiritually and gastronomically.

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