POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand: A Cookbook by Andy Ricker & JJ Goode

POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand: A Cookbook by Andy Ricker & JJ Goode

Author:Andy Ricker & JJ Goode [Ricker, Andy]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Published: 2017-10-30T16:00:00+00:00


Pig’s brains grilled in banana leaf


I first had this Northern Thai dish at a restaurant tucked behind a hostel in Chiang Mai’s tourist ghetto. At the time, I was still staying in farang-friendly places, in this case at a nearby guesthouse. But whenever I got hungry, I went in search of the opposite.

Despite its location, this particular restaurant was not geared toward tourists. The place was in the “shop house” style of Thai eateries: half living space, half restaurant. Several generations of family members probably lived upstairs, cooked, prepped, and lounged around back. There were a few tables, but they were piled with a week’s worth of newspapers or taken up by a little kid playing with an action figure. Most customers pulled up on motorcycles and left soon after, carrying plastic bags filled with various shapes of banana leaf–wrapped parcels that had been slowly cooking over charcoal on the grill out front.

An English menu listed a few things the owner thought tourists might want. The rest of the menu was in Thai, which even today I still can’t read. But I spoke rudimentary Thai, so I walked up to the older guy manning the grill and started asking questions. He ticked off what he had going, and I caught the word samoeng or “brain.” I’ll have that, I told him, partly because I was curious and partly in an attempt to show him that I was, unlike many foreigners who stayed nearby, an open, adventurous eater. I doubt he was impressed.

Chatting with the man behind the grill, I learned that the majority of the Thai menu was composed of Isaan dishes, fare from the Northeastern region of the country. But the man himself was from Northern Thailand, of which Chiang Mai is the de facto capital. That explained the aep samoeng muu, which I’d later learn was a staple of Northern Thai countryside drinking establishments. Essentially, it is pig’s brains scrunched by hand (kluk, as the method is known) with curry paste, packed in banana leaf, and grilled. He was selling the dish and its banana-wrapped brethren in the way a Mexican guy running a deli in New York might offer a taco or two along with his roster of turkey and roast beef sandwiches.

I took a few parcels back to a table, unfolded the one with brain, and after a good swig of beer, dug in. The texture was custardy, a bit like scrambled eggs but richer, and the fragrance and flavor complex from a heady paste of chile, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric root, and the perfume of lime leaf. The dish has become a favorite of mine, something I order whenever it’s on offer. serves 4 to 8


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