Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thai Noodles and Soups

If there's one dish we miss most from our Thai travels, it's the rich noodle dishes known as Kuay Teow. What makes them so great is the way in which each customer customizes the heat, bitterness, sourness, sweetness and overall flavor to their liking. No matter where you dined - even at a street-stall, balancing a bowl on your knees at the side of the road - six condiments were always in close proximity: fish sauce, chilis soaked in water or vinegar, dried chilies, sugar, white pepper and soy sauce. Often there were other tangy sauces or mixtures local to the restaurant or region. "Boat Noodle Alley" was one of our favourite spots! Check out the first video posted below. Tucked in the hidden side streets around Victory Monument in Bangkok, this lineup of restaurants is famous for their Boat Noodle Soup. It includes your choice of noodles, beef or pork balls, green vegetables and often a pink broth dyed with pork blood. Each bowl costs no more than 30 Baht (about $1 CAD) and is ladled out by the twenties next to the canal. Bustling waitstaff service each table of elbow-to-elbow customers. Puffed pork cracklings are a typical accompaniment dropped into the noodle soup. Other rice-noodle dishes enjoyed on our travels included soups or stir-fries with mushrooms, wilted greens, bean sprouts, tofu, egg-drops and flavored with everything from coconut to lime juice.

As for soups, our favourite was Tom Yum Goong. See the second video below. Soups either had a clear meat or vegetable broth or a creamy coconut base. We were blown away by the quality and flavors present in something as simple as a 15 Baht pork dumpling soup, or a winter-melon/chicken soup. Whole fish, cumin, ginger, lemongrass, chili, bamboo shoots, mung beans, curry paste... anything and everything could be thrown into a soup and we loved every bite.

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