Eating like a local

The cuisine in Thailand is one of the most alluring things about the country. The explosion of extreme and contrasting flavours packed into each dish make it unlike any other type of food in the world. From Sweet and sour to spicy and salty, each dish is heaped full of flavour. 

When I first moved to Thailand, I was beyond excited about sampling as much of the cuisine as possible. I thought my diet would be filled with fresh fish, Noodle soups, and stir fried vegetables, all washed down with coconut water. I don't doubt that this is the diet of most visitors to the southern parts of Thailand, however being in rural Surin (located in the North east) brings a very different reality, largely consisting of rice.
As we are not near a beach, the fish is not from fresh water; most dishes are deep fried, and it's often difficult to order more than 'kaow pat gai Kai jeow' (chicken fried rice with an omelette) as all the menus in cheap eateries tend to be in thai: one disadvantage to the authentic experience of rural thailand away from the tourists I suppose.

 Nonetheless, the markets are filled with exotic and interesting big pot dishes, tasty sticky rice snacks, coconut based desserts and seasonal produce. I often enjoy just browsing the stalls and  experimenting with different snacks and meals. I like to practice the little thai I have picked up to order something new each time I go, (although I often end up resorting to over expressive hand gestures "that one there please!" *stabs air above pumpkin curry dish* to convey my meaning!)  

As a health enthusiast, my diet has taken a turn for the worse since moving here, and despite the extreme flavours in a lot of dishes, the variety of food I eat it is nowhere near as vast or wholesome as it is at home. I eat white rice at least once a day (a cardinal sin for all clean eaters, I know!) and consume copious amounts of MSG in school meals, as it is a popular way of flavouring dishes cheaply is SEA. 

With this in mind, over the weekend I made an active effort to make my own seasonal dish free from refined rice or artificial flavourings. I picked up some fresh Morning Glory from the market and fried it in a little oil with chilli, garlic, lime and soy sauce. It made a great side dish packing heaps of flavour; spicy heat counteracted by zesty lime; powerful garlic balanced with salty soy sauce. 

Just a few simple ingredients 

As you can see, my cooking facilities are rather rudimentary: this is my stove!

I paired it with these healthy thai version of spring rolls- minus the deep fried element- that I also spotted at the market. They are called 'kuay tiaw Lui Suan': a thin noodle paper, wrapped and stuffed with lettuce, carrot, spring onions and minced pork. I sprinkled a sweet chilli dressing over it as well to give it a sweet and spicy flavour boost.

As the end of my teaching encroaches and I prepare for travelling, I look forward to being able to sample the amazing food that other areas of SEA has to offer. My first stop will be Cambodia, and I hope to use my blog to document all the exciting dishes I try!

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