A couple of weeks back Dre’s sister Kate asked us if we would post some photos of the food we have been eating on Koh Lanta along with ingredients so that she could make similar dishes at home. There are several dishes that we regularly eat here (some of them almost every day) that we haven’t actually found anywhere else in Thailand. Our favourite one is Kao Yum.
Kao Yum: (amounts are approximate – change as you like!)
1 cup of cooked rice
6 kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced with stems removed
2 stalks lemongrass, only the white parts, very finely sliced (remove the outer tough bits)
3 tablespoons shredded dried fish
2 tablespoons lighly cooked fresh coconut scrapings (kind of like desiccated coconut, but fresh)
1-3 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
juice of 1/2 lime
optional: 3 tablespoons rice bubbles
4-5 tablespoons of sweetened thick soy sauce (ours is freshly made with lots of soy bean chunks)
Mix all of these together and this is the main part of the dish, which is always accompanied by copious amounts of garnishes / veges which you can either mix into the dish or have on the side, such as:
green baby mango
green or red papaya
young green jackfruit
raw eggplant (seriously you can’t survive SEA without learning to love raw eggplant!)
herbs – the common one looks like flat parsley/coriander and tastes lemony and spicy or there is another one similar to chives
and one vegetable which we still can’t identify
Another really popular dish that you can get almost everywhere here is ‘Bun Noodles’ (Khanom jiin naam yaa). We think that the English translation to bun noodles might be because when served at a restaurant (usually only at a bun noodle restaurant! Usually this is the only dish that you can get at the place) the freshly made noodles are in a round ‘bun’ and the sauce is spooned on top. We have both accidentally become complete noodle snobs – after watching fresh noodles being made in front of us most of the time in Laos before we ate them, and now also getting fresh noodles made for us in Koh Lanta, now when we order noodles at another place we always know if they are a few days old / older than this is almost not worth eating – and the thought of instant noodles is just bad. Don’t go there. Anyway…
Khanom jiin naam yaa:
Freshly made ball of rice noodles about the size of a cup
1/2 cup of spicy yellow coconut curry sauce, made with fish, tumeric and tamarind. No actual fish pieces make it into the dish, smaller bits basically dissolve and larger bits of flesh are not put into the sauce in the first place. You can also sometimes get a vegetable jungle curry sauce.
If you get this at a restaurant, it comes with a huge (say 60cm across) round tray of vegetables, pretty much a mixture of the garnish veges mentioned above but also including loads of leaves – which are young shoots off trees. Many unidentified tree leaves have been consumed while eating this dish! If you get a takeaway version, then a mixture of the veges just comes in your bag.
Another dish we eat slightly less regularly than the above two is a version of Pad Thai ‘noodles and egg’ . What makes this dish nicer than average is the sauce.
Noodles and Egg:
2 cups of fresh rice noodles – pad thai width – fried in soy sauce
a beaten egg, cooked and sliced
a handful of sprouts
a handful of herbs (usually the lemon spicy one or the chives-like one)
sometimes some veges, or not, depending on your luck
Then add 3-4 tablespoons sauce:
chopped fresh chilli
lots of finely chopped ginger
tiny bit of vinegar
liquid or dissolved sugar
The main taste in the sauce is sweet limey ginger. Yum.
Finally, when the other 3 dishes are sold out, we get rice soup. Rice soup is actually really awesome from restaurants and usually contains heaps of veges (although nowhere in Thailand even comes close to how good it is in northern Laos!), but from our roadside stall ladies near our house, it is good, but usually lacking veges and not quite as amazing as the other dishes.
1 cup red or white rice
Cook rice in stock of your choice, usually fish stock
herbs of your choice
add as many veges and seafood as you like
Sprinkle pepper and chilli on top or mix in
2 tablespoons dried fried onion on top
freshly grated/finely sliced ginger on top
coriander on top
Optional: dried salted fish on top or mixed in (think: saltiest fish in the world)
So there you have it, 4 mostly-easy-to-make dishes that we eat on pretty much a daily basis. We hope you enjoy making and eating these!!