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.

Boiling Wok – All About Hot Pot

My friend Yue told me about a new hot pot restaurant that had opened up in Carrollton. The restaurant is in an area that I’m super familiar with, but since it’s literally hidden behind Daiso so I had no idea it was there!

The restaurant is called Boiling Wok. It’s located on the South East corner of Old Denton and George Bush, behind Daiso and Ranch 99. Unlike the typical communal pot of broth that you get at Little Sheep, for example, you can get your own personal pot at Boiling Wok.

Let me make it clear that you do not have to get your own hot pot. You can absolutely share, because one pot can feed four people. My parent’s and I made the delightful mistake of ordering individual pots. Way too much food, but oh so good for this blog!

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Unlike other hot pot restaurants you don’t choose ingredients to go with your pot of broth. At Boiling Wok you pick the type of broth that you want and all the ingredients are already included. I love how you get a choice of Asian flavors. Korean, Thai, Japanese and Szechuan. They do have a small option of ingredients that you can add to the pot, but it’s not really needed with all the ingredients that already come with it. Do you see all the choices? It was so hard for us to choose the ones we wanted.

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Before we get to the hot pots let me tell you about the three different dipping sauces they offer. Let’s start counter clock wise. The first sauce is like smoked chili peppers in oil. I would guess that it’s a Szechuan sauce, because it reminds me of the peppercorns and hot oil. The light color sauce was my favorite. Now I don’t know what any of them are so these are just guesses, but this one tasted like miso and sesame. It wasn’t spicy at all despite the color. It was my favorite for sure. I used this one the most. The last sauce is a light and sweet soy sauce. It was very delicate. I liked it, but since it was less robust than the other two I didn’t use it as much.

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Here are the hot pots that we ordered! Don’t they look amazing? My dad ordered the Japanese Miso, mom ordered Szechuan Spicy and I got the Thai hot pot. Each pot comes with a choice of egg noodles, vermicelli, udon or rice. My dad got udon while mom and I got vermicelli.

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The Japanese Miso Hot Pot comes with pork slices, cabbage, choy sum, udon, enoki mushrooms, clams, fish balls, fish fillet, Maitake mushrooms, crab, fried tofu skin, soft tofu, oysters, mussels, egg and green onions. The broth in this one was delicious! It was not exactly a shabu shabu broth. It has hints of nabe and ramen broth. My dad is not a spicy kind of guy so this one was perfect for him. It was rich with a slight sweetness to it.

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This is the Szechuan Spicy Hot Pot. This comes with cabbage, choy sum, sliced beef, vermicelli, tempura, enoki mushrooms, clams, oysters, fish balls, cuttlefish, pork intestines (oh my), fried tofu skin, Maitake mushrooms, tofu, green onions and cilantro. This broth was spicy, but it’s the kind that builds up. It starts off with a kick, but not too bad. The more you eat it the more your mouth feels like it’s on fire. It was really good. The broth was super robust and this would be a great option during the winter. This pot is probably the most traditional Chinese one.

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This is the Thai Hot Pot. I ordered this one and I thought it would be like Thai Suki, which is what Thai hot pot is. I was surprised when they brought me the pot and I discovered that it was basically tom yum. It was a pleasant surprised for sure. This pot has sliced pork, vermicelli, cabbage, choy sum, lemongrass, enoki mushrooms, cuttlefish, fish balls, clams, oysters, crab, shrimps, octopus, Maitake mushrooms, fried tofu skin, egg and cilantro. This hot pot was so good. It reminded me so much of my favorite Thai ramen that has creamy tom yum broth.

In all three hot pots they give you so much protein it’s not even funny. The pork and beef slices made up half of the ingredients. There was so much pork in mine that I didn’t even finish it all which is a real shame.

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Each person is given a small bowl to put a small helping of the hot pot in. By doing this you are cooling down the food so that you don’t burn your mouth. It’s also more manageable to eat in small portions rather than trying to tackle the whole pot yourself.

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The best part of the hot pot is this tempura hard boiled egg! It was such a surprise. I thought it was a very large fried fish ball until I cut it in half. The creaminess of the egg yoke with the spicy broth was so good. I’m still thinking about it.

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I love this restaurant so much. I love the different options that they offer and I cannot wait to go back. The next time we go we won’t be getting individual hot pots that’s for sure. None of us finished our pots and it was such a waste of food. We will definitely be sharing next time.

So, if you’re a fan of hot pot or would like to try it I highly recommend Boiling Wok! You have your choice of flavors and depending on your tastes I’m sure you’ll find the best pot for you.

Fried Egg Salad – Yam Kai Dao

In today’s post I wanted to share with you a quick recipe that I really enjoy. It’s a salad made with fried eggs and Thai dressing. At my house we love the runny yoke version which is the way that I’ve seen it in Thailand. However, if you are interested in trying this recipe, but don’t like the oozing then please feel free to cook the eggs all the way through.

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Fried Egg Salad - Yam Kai Dao
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
Quick and easy Thai fried egg salad that you can serve over hot rice
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon of lime juice - you can adjust to your taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon of fish sauce - you can adjust to your taste
  • 1 sliced jalapeno
  • ¼ cup of sliced onions
  • sprig or two of chopped cilantro
  • optional pinch of sugar to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat up some oil in a frying pan
  2. When hot crack in the eggs - you can do it one at a time or all at once
  3. When the egg whites get brown and crispy around the edges you can remove from heat. Cook longer if you prefer the yokes cooked through
  4. In a small bowl mix together the lime juice, fish sauce and sliced jalapeños (add sugar here as well)
  5. Place the eggs on a plate and garnish with onions and cilantro
  6. Pour the dressing over the eggs before serving

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This fried egg salad goes great with hot rice. We eat purple rice at my house hence the pop of color that you see in this picture.

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Doesn’t that look amazing?! If you enjoy eggs sunny side up, give this recipe a try!

A Great Substitute for Sai Krok Isaan – Sai Krok Laos

I was talking to my hairstylist a few weeks ago about food. Did you think I would talk about anything else? Anyway, I told her that I really wish I could get my hands on some Sai Krok Isaan (fermented/sour Northeastern Thai sausages). I can’t remember the last time I had any and I wanted some BAD!

Sai Krok literally means sausage. Isaan is the northeastern region of Thailand. So in case you were wondering what Sai Krok Isaan means, it’s sausage from the northeastern region of Thailand. 🙂 The sausage is made with ground pork and rice. Different recipes have different ingredients. You’ll see recipes that call for garlic, galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves to name a few. The rice is what helps the sausage ferment and become sour. Sausage makers will hang them at room temperature for a number of days for the fermentation to take place. I’ve heard that using sticky rice will make it more sour and jasmine rice will make it slightly sweeter.

You’re probably wondering why I would want to eat sour sausages, but until you’ve had these babies you won’t understand.

So, when I was complaining to Nita about my lack of Sai Krok Isaan intake in America she immediately said that I could get Sai Krok Laos or Laotian Sausage instead. Tina, another hairstylist in the shop, knows a Laotian lady who makes and sells sausages. I’ve had Sai Krok Laos before at the Buddhist temple and it’s pretty similar to the Thai version so I was immediately placing an order with Tina. Get me some sausages!!! If I can’t get what I want I can at least get something similar.

According to Wikipedia the Laotian version of Sai Krok is made from

coarsely chopped fatty pork seasoned with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, cilantro, chillies, garlic, salt and fish sauce.

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For twenty dollars you get four packages of five. I ordered twenty dollars worth from Tina and I think she misunderstood my excitement to mean that what I really wanted was forty dollars worth. I have sausages for days!!!!

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Look at all the kaffir lime leaves throughout the meat. Yummy.

The best way to eat Sai Krok is to grill it. I don’t actually own a grill so I could not cook it the way that you normally would. Buying a grill is on my list of to dos. I just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. I keep finding other things to spend my money on so a grill isn’t a priority with me.

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I thought about grilling them on the stove, but opted to broil them in the oven instead. I didn’t want to have to deal with all the smoke and splatter that comes with grilling meat on the stove. They don’t look too bad, right? I’m telling you right now though it would have been better with the nice char on the outside from a grill.

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Look at that glorious display of fatty porkiness!!! The Sai Krok Laos was really good. It was fermented, but not as sour as we would have liked it to be. I assume it’s because there was no hanging in room temperature involved for the fermentation to fully take effect. It did have a robust flavor to it. A little more sweet than the Thai version, but still really amazing after not having this type of dish for so long. You can definitely taste the aromatic ingredients.

The accompaniments of this dish include raw cabbage, ginger slices and Thai bird’s eye chili. I’m not crazy enough to chase this down with a bird’s eye chili, but the cabbage and ginger added great flavor.

I still have so much sausage left. I froze all, but one package. I’m keeping that one in the refrigerator in hopes that it will ferment and enhance the flavor. We shall see if it does. I’m crossing my fingers. I don’t even want to try the room temperature fermentation. With my luck I’ll end up with food poisoning.

I’m closing this with a vlog post by Mark Wiens, a huge foodie that lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He has a blog and YouTube channel dedicated to food and travel. I subscribe to his channel and love watching him eat his way around Asia. In the video below Mark shows you what Sai Krok Isaan is all about. So jealous!

 

Soft Shell Crab Woonsen

I don’t normally eat at Thai restaurants. I mean, why would I? I get the real deal all the time at home.

However there is one Thai restaurant that I would pay to eat at. Noodle Wave. I met my friend, Nikki, at their Richardson location for lunch last weekendend. I wanted to order a dish that I’ve never had before or one that I normally don’t get to eat.

Noodle Wave has Southern Thai food so there was lots to choose from. My family is from Central Thailand so I don’t get southern fare very much or at all.

There was one dish on the menu that immediately caught my eye. The Soft Shell Crab Woonsen. It’s a little pricey at $13.95. The dish consists of glass noodles stir fried with crab meat, bean sprouts and scallions. It’s then topped with a tempura soft shell crab. You can choose your spiciness level. You choose from 1 to 4. I went with 2. Let’s not get crazy.

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Look at how pretty this dish is. The colors are so eye catching. That’s a nice size crab, don’t you think?

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The glass noodles are so much fun to eat. The texture is delicate yet chewy at the same time. There were large pieces of crab meat throughout the dish. Which was nice. Sometimes you order a crab dish and there’s barely any crab. You know what I mean?

I cut the tempura soft shell crab into bite size pieces and mixed it in with my noodles. The tempura batter on the crab was really well seasoned. It added another layer of flavor. It was so good!!!!

Noodle Wave has 3 locations. The original restaurant is located in Richardson. It’s always packed! There is also one in McKinney and now one in Frisco. Yay!

So, if you’re looking for something different and you like Thai food and crab, I highly recommend the Soft Shell Crab Woonsen at Noodle Wave.

Seafood from Phuket

My parents are in Thailand at the moment. They go back to the motherland once a year to visit friends and family. I’m not here to talk about their trip though. I’m here to show you the meal that they had in Phuket. A meal that I’m completely jealous of, because you can’t find these types of dishes in North Texas.

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These are cockles. They’re my absolute favorite type of clam. I haven’t had fresh ones in a very long time. There’s not a lot of fresh seafood in North Texas. You can get frozen ones at Asian markets, but there’s nothing like fresh seafood straight out of the ocean. The cockles in this picture look like they were steamed, but Thais also do a version that’s chargrilled. I like chargrilled shellfish a lot (oysters are badass), but I’ll take cockles anyway that I can get them.

I really like this one type of cockle called, blood cockles. I know right? It sounds awful. There’s reddish liquid inside the shell that makes it appear like blood. It doesn’t taste bloody though. It’s just visually intimidating. Anyway, blood cockles may not be for everyone, but I do recommend that you at least give the regular ones a try.

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This is a crab salad. Shell and all. There are lots of herbs and aromatics in this dish. If I’m not mistaken there appears to be lemongrass, mint, kafir lime leaves, shallots, Thai chilies, crab, fish sauce and limes. I can’t see the fish sauce and lime, but those are the main ingredients of Thai salads so I just know. I’ve never had this dish before, but I want some!!!

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This is what’s called pla ma now or “lime fish”. The fish is steamed sea bass. The sauce is made of lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, cilantro and Thai chilies. It’s pretty isn’t it? All the colors going on is like confetti. Well don’t be fooled! Thai chilies are damn spicy and this dish burns. BURNS! I don’t have to taste it to know that your mouth will be on fire after one bite. Unlike my mother who can handle all the chilies, I will usually scrap them off before eating.

So, I hope you enjoyed these Thai delicacies that I’ve shared today. I wish I had taken the pictures myself (and got to eat it), but this is just as good. I love food pictures and I’m delighted mom took the time to share.

Have a good week!!!

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