Thursday, September 26, 2013

Friday Five: Staple Foods

Since moving to Thailand, my diet has changed. Alot. As such, there are many foods that have become new staples in my diet that I would not have otherwise guessed.

1. Fish Sauce, น้ำปลา, nam plaa- It's brown, stinky, salty, and fermented. Why do I use it? It is more delicious than you can ever imagine, which frankly, is pretty easy to accomplish because generally first impressions of it are that it is going to be worse than a pile of used jockstraps soaked in beer for ten years. So, how do fish turn from this...
Image cred to Villas of Italy

Image cred via Clay's Kitchen
into this...? 
Let's watch!

2. Pumpkin, ฟักทอง, fak tawng- Wonderful flavor, endless uses. You can scramble these with eggs, cook them into a curry, candy them with honey, fry them with other vegetables, use them in desert, dry the seeds, and so forth.
Image cred to Harmony Life
3. Morning Glory ผักบุ้ง, pak boong- I miss the abundance of various leafy greens that are available to me in the States- Spinach, kale, lettuces, cabbages, and fancy things like "radicchio" or various colors of Swiss chard. That said, I really needed to find one form of a green leafy thing here in Thailand. While there certainly aren't as many as what's available back home, I latched on to morning glory pretty quickly (probably because my original host family in Suphan often cooked these, drenched in fish sauce and garlic, and it was magnificent). While it's definitely not as leafy as most/all the aforementioned leafies, I like the textures of the stem and the leaves when cooked down. It is definitely versatile as well, as it makes for a good stand alone dish or mixed in with an avalanche of other veggies.
Image cred to N3K
4. Pineapple, สับปะรด, sap-bpa-rot- Pineapple has long held its place in my American life as "most loved fruit ever." With that distinction, however, is also attached "most pined for" because it is too freakin' expensive to purchase on a weekly, much less daily, basis. In my Thai life, I can purchase a whole pineapple for thirty Baht (about one USD)! These pineapple are also virtually guaranteed to be sweet and sour and perfect. It is a rare day indeed that passes with zero pineapple consumption. 
Image cred to Saeng Suwan. And yes, pineapples are always cut this way. Always.
5. Eggs, ไข่, kai- Now, those who know me, know that I love eggs. I love them so much and in so many ways. I love them fried. I love them hard boiled. I love them cooked into things, I love them with things cooked into them. As much as I think pizza is my favorite food, eggs really do easily usurp that distinction (though, I do love eggs on pizza, or hell, a pizza omelet (thanks, Pa)). So, why do eggs deserve to make this list when I already consumed them in unhealthy amounts? Because I eat them in even greater quantities here in more unhealthy ways. The picture below depicts a Thai omelet. They are gross little grease piles that will blow your tastebuds' minds. Basically, all it is is eggs roughly beaten with fish sauce (notice a theme?), thrown into a monstrous amount of blazing hot oil in a wok, and fried. Sometimes there is garlic, onions, and/or chilies fried into them. Serve it with some cilantro on rice, or with a fish sauce/chili concoction (if you skipped that during the beating step) and you have a party in your mouth.

I believe I consume 12-15 eggs per week. But don't worry, I eat a bunch of sugary and salty snacks to mitigate the cholesterol. 
Image cred to Nikonian Thailand


  1. Thanks Jay I had been wondering what to do with my bottle of fish sauce and I do have an abundance of fresh eggs...

  2. Fish sauce? Who ever even thought of such a disgusting thing? OMG. If I had to go without salt or use fish sauce, I'd have excellent blood pressure. I cannot imagine the thought process that went into developing that stuff. Some evil tyrant, surely....