Monday, 30 May 2011


We found some interesting things at the market today. First some fruit like pomelo slices and white grapes in a sweet and salty chili sauce. Later some deep fried and crunchy crickets. Sometimes sold alongside snails or black olives.

A Cambodian meal will usually include a soup served alongside the main courses. This one is beef with vegetables and rice noodles.

Nom kachay are chive rice cakes served with a milder chili sauce and a hot and fiery one.

This dish is called Kralan in Khmer. It's sticky rice with coconut milk and beans, packed inside bamboo tubes and roasted over a fire.

More sweet sticky rice. Wrapped in a banana leaf with a banana in the center and then grilled. The banana gets super sweet and delicious. Or you can just grill the bananas. On a stick. Nice too.

This is my local bakery. Notice it's also the local gas station. Not an unusual mix here in Cambodia.

Gas station and ice cold drinks. Don't mix them up though. Cold drinks are in the red cool box.

Gas station and cigarettes. Interesting combination. Can you see the 'no smoking' sign anywhere? No? Well, maybe there just wasn't one.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

LAOS: Vientiane

Vientiane is the capital and the largest city of Laos and the French influence is omnipresent in the iconic Patuxai, a monument modelled on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, though built in the 1960's entirely from concrete incorporating traditional Lao motifs. There is not too much to blog about street food this time. Not that it doesn't exist but there is such a wealth of great international cuisine to sample in this city that we went slightly off brief. There's anything from Japanese okonomiyaki, Korean bbq, Swedish bakeries, Indochina fusion and of course great French food.

Iced tea with lemon and tamarind is slightly sour and very sweet but also very refreshing.

Laap or Larp is a Laotian minced meat salad (though this one is vegetarian made with seitan and thinly sliced wood ear mushroom)and is regarded as the national dish of Laos. It can be made with chicken, beef, pork, duck or even fish - raw or cooked - mixed with vegetables like green beans and flavoured with fish sauce, chilli and fresh herbs like mint. You eat this with sticky rice, the most important staple in Laotian cuisine.

This vendor sells a drink made of coconut water with slivers of young coconut flesh. Sooooo gooood! The other one in the background is the Laotian version of a drink/dessert that keeps following me throughout Southeast Asia: sweet coconutmilk with green pandan rice noodles. Same same, but different!

These sweets are made with sticky rice and there's pandan and soya flavour which is slightly salty-sweet. Glutinous rice or khao niao is cooked by soaking for several hours, steaming in a bamboo pot and then kneaded with a peadle to release the steam. The rice kernels with stick to themselves but not to your fingers.

I have been posting a lot of different waffles recently but this one is by far the most creative one. Penguins. We found them on Talat Sao morning market, which is actually more like a mall. You can choose between taro, cream, chocolate and pandan filling. Guess which one I went for?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

LAOS: Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a little town in the North of Laos where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms.

The local morning market is a modest affair running along a small street in the centre of town. You can buy anything from fruit and vegetables, rice and beans to live fish and frogs.

You can see busy vendors cutting, chopping, portioning and packaging throughout the day. This lady here is peeling bamboo shoots to be used in local dishes like soups or stews.

The spring rolls were delicious. There's the fried and the fresh ones filled with rice noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce and mint. The peanut dipping sauce is what brings all the flavours together: spicy, sweet and salty.

The noodles were wrapped in a banana leaf and come with herbs, fried onion and puffed rice.

Coffee is a big deal in Laos and almost as sacred as Beerlao, the state-owned brewery's local beer brand. Robusta and Arabica coffee beans, tea and even tabacco have the ideal climate on the Bolovens Plateau to grow. It is custom to drink the coffee with condensed milk, followed by a glass of green tea.

Me and my sweet tooth... This lady here sells coconut and pandan ice cream with pandan jelly. Yum!

Laos was under French Protectorate from 1893-1954 and you can still see the influence in the architecture and taste in the food. French baguettes can be found throughout the city and are great for breakfast, for lunch or actually anytime. This one is filled with lettuce, tomato, onions, cucumber and tofu and a generous amount of mayo and sweet chili sauce, Voilà!. But there's also fried chicken, tuna, omlette and various combinations of all of the latter. There are also sweet versions like jam or nutella and can be combined with the oreo cookie milk shakes that can be found everywhere in Luang Prabang. Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

THAILAND: Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and has a lot to offer culturally and culinary.

There are several markets in the city. There are bazaars, dry and wet markets and then there are the amazing weekend markets (Saturday and Sunday) where the roads in the historical centre are closed to motorised traffic and stalls pop up everywhere instead.

This one here is for meat lovers: pork, pineapple, tomato with a spicy pepper sauce.

And another unusual food on sticks: waffles. They are filled with either banana, pineapple, corn, crab or sausage.

Have you noticed the coloured rice? Blue, green, yellow, pink, orange and black. Little portions are beautifully packaged in a banana leaf. It's a dessert made of back and jasmin rice,condensed milk and caramelised coconut flakes on top.

More presentation in banana leaf: These omletts are flavoured with either mushrooms, crab, shrimp or pork.

And to finish the menu of banana leaf meals this is a mini dessert made of gelatinous rice and flavoured with either banana, melon or pumpkin. Sometimes fruit and vegetable cross the line of how we would usually classify them in sweet or savoury. Green papaya is being used here in a salad, pumpkin cooked in coconutmilk as a dessert or corn and red beans served alongside ice cream with condensed milk. The results are always surprisingly tasty. Who would have thought.

Saturday, 14 May 2011


The area in Bangkok around Kao San Road is a Mekka for great street food. The stalls change throughout the day from breakfast dishes, snacks, lunch fare, desserts and baked goods to dinner but you can also buy fresh fruit and veg here easily.

This vendor sells the infamous king of all fruits: Durian.

I had mentioned this before but now got a chance to photograph it properly: Pa-tong-goh, the Thai donuts in the recognisable shape of an 'X' made from wheat flour and yeast.

The Thai version of a continental breakfast: This lady toasts bread over a charcoal grill and then butters them. You can choose different spreads like pineapple, orange or strawberry marmelade/jam or just sugar and condensed milk. Bread just tastes so much better warmed over an open fire than at home in the electric toaster.

The little vanilla sponges look cute and come with different additions like raisins, cashews or seeds (pumpkin, sesame). The paper doily add a sweet touch to her homemade handmade treats.

I have mentioned my obsession with pandan before but I didn't get a chance to show this dessert in Malaysia (been too busy eating it, sorry) where they have a similar dessert. It's layered sticky coconut rice and pandan jelly and is refered to as lortchorng singapore so makes me believe it originates from outside of Thailand.

And another dish I grew fond of in Malaysia: Cendol. In Thailand you will find it under the name Lot chong nam kathi: pandan flavoured rice noodles in sweet coconut milk on lots of crushed ice and some santol slices.

At night the stalls change once again. You can get the usual pad thai, barbequed meat on sticks, noodle soups, curries with rice, poached quails eggs and even crispy crunchy insects. Fried scorpion, anyone?