Urai went out of her way to make sure I was properly nourished. She took great care in learning my taste preferences and dietary restrictions. Below is a partial list of some of the delicious food I’ve tasted in Bangsai:
My first lunch: Fresh spring rolls (tarot root, glass noodle and soy tofu wrapped in fresh rice paper), cucumber slices and fresh parsley from the garden, mango and rose apple slices. Rose apple is a new fruit to me. It was juicy and crunchy with a texture almost like celery, not too sweet. Perfect to clean the palet after a meal.
Lordy lord, I fell in love with this sweet Thai dessert, kaw dom mat, so much that we spend the next evening making it from scratch together. It consisted of sticky rice, banana and black beans wrapped in banana leaf. The pink banana frightened me at first as it looked like some sort of meat. After being steamed 2 hours, banana turns pink. Did you know this?
Some fried concoction we picked up at the market after the green attracted my vegan eyes. It was scallion and other greens in a flour dough fried to perfection and slices in wedges. Very satisfying as a vegan needs some fat in her diet sometime. Urai served it with a spicy dumpling dipping sauce.
My dinner of sauteed soy tofu (I say soy tofu as there are 2 types of tofu here in Thailand, soy and egg.) and sprouts, lemongrass, ginger and mushroom soup, sauteed morning glory with chili peppers. Amidst conversation, I ate a chili pepper and suffered a terrible bout of runny nose and eyes. Took me many scoops of white rice for me to recover.
Part of an absolutely huge breakfast. Bright red watermelon chucks, what I understood to be called “melonpom” – another new fruit: kind of like a little oval orange plum with less rubbery skin and a large mango-like pit, more traditional Thai dessert wrapped in banana leaves and these very interesting little critters: fried coconut milk dollops with scallion. The congealed coconut milk (the basis of all the Thai desserts to follow) gave the feel of poached egg. I chewed slowly, baffled.
Here’s a close-up of those coconut milk fried thing-a-ma-gigs. As far as I know, coconut milk is the only source of non-animal saturated fat. Being a vegan, I never eat saturated fat, spare of some curry now and again. I think my body is a bit confused by the texture and chemical composition of these coconut milk-based treats.
Along with the goodies above, this dish of fried veggies and rice was also part of breakfast! Since I’ve gotten to Thailand I have been eating Jai, the strict vegetarian style of food that also contains no onion or garlic… because it is more easily understood by Thai people. Tasting this fried rice with its scattering of diced onion, I realized how much I missed them.
Oh my gosh, this thing was kind of scary. That congealed coconut milk atop of these green little jelly things. I know, “things”? But I asked Urai several times what they were and I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I eventually just nodded and steered clear of them, thinking “jelly = gelatin”.
More coconut milk-based Thai dessert! Urai won’t be satisfied until she raises my record low LDL cholesterol (i.e. bad cholesterol). These dense babies wrapped in banana leaf were just delicious… banana and coconut infused gelatinous wonders. I am starting to fear this huge and drastic up in sugar intake.
Fried spring rolls. I was glad to see that Urai was not wasting what I wasn’t eating. My first meal’s fresh rolls were fried up and served with fresh basil. I had to ask for chop sticks as a fork and spring rolls do not mix. Between all this sweet Thai dessert and fresh veggies, my body really craves this fried stuff. I gobbled up all of these to my surprise. Appetite comes with eating.
Well, what do you know. I made this bad boy. Slaved over a coconut shredder, squeezed out its milk like it were a cow, assembled sliced banana with a blanket of the coconut milk-infused sticky rice, dropped a few cooked black beans before Urai wrapped it tight in banana leaf, tied it with bamboo and steamed it for 2 hours…
Another new fruit: Jackfruit. Amazing texture, similar to that of an edible flower. Thick skinned with a messy bite, almost meat-like. It tastes a bit pineapple-y. I was surprised to see it was purchased in a bag. Oh, speaking of bags: street vendor sell cola and other drinks in plastic bags here. So you see people walking around with plastic bags with straws in em.
A delicious vegetable-based soup. Huge cylinders of soft soy tofu, parsley, onion and celery. The celery here is tiny, like little twigs. Not one for drinking food, I ate all of the solids and left the broth. I don’t know where this stems from. Food psychology!
Urai is killing me with sugar and coconut. These coconut balls are filled with a delicious brown sugar and coconut compote, covered in coconut milk-thickened skin and dragged in more fresh coconut. Notice the theme.
This dessert I didn’t care for but I thought I’d share anyway. Sticky rice topped with what Urai called “custard” but tasted a bit like cat food smells, looked a bit like it too. Apparently most of her visitors don’t like this one.
Wonderful corn fritters. Simple and oh so yum. I wrapped them in the fresh basil and dipped them in the delicious apricot sauce, nibbling on a cucumber slice now and again to make the next fritter taste like the first. Notice that pink stuff in the upper left corner of the photo: more Thai dessert. Not sorbet or some new take on Neapolitan ice cream…
So onward to those pink balls. At this point, I was kind of filled to the brim with sugar and coconut milk-based wonderments. These tri-colored balls deserved a nibble, however. I was shocked to learn the green were colored with banana leaf, as the color seemed artificial. When I asked about the pink, Urai didn’t know how it got that color. Ok, just a nibble out of respect.