Thai Festival

I haven’t seen much evidence of a Thai community in Chichester  and was expecting to be reminded that I am ten thousand kilometres away.

Thai food in Chichester

But I ate myself to a standstill at the Chichester Thai Festival.

Still no dry curry.

But there was papaya salad, logan juice and the coconut desserts you get wrapped in banana leaf. Mu ping, fried banana and crispy pork.

Thai food West Sussex

Khanom krok, nam isan, sai krok isan, and the Chiangmai sausage.

Thai street food Sussex

Thai community festivals UK

Thai dancing and a young male vocalists who switched easily between between Thai and English who sang exceptionally well.

Thai dancers in the UK

Stalls selling Thai food products including bamboo shoots, durian and sataw. Others displaying clothes and other typically Thai goods.

Carved Thai soap bathroom accessories UK

Thai straw bags in the UK

Traditional Thai clothing in the UK

Traditional Thai massage

Traditional Thai massage Sussex

And plenty to keep the kids occupied whilst Mum and Dad relax with an ice cold Singha beer.

Thai community festivals in the UK

Singha beer in the UK

Termite mushrooms

Every year stalls pop up on the 3086 from Kanchanaburi selling termite mushrooms which the local villagers collect from the mountain forests.

Termite mushroom sellers Nong Prue Kanchanaburi

The het khone termite mushroom is regarded by Thais as the king of them all. And at the height of the mushroom madness cars from Bangkok and even further afield can be seen queuing up to buy this expensive and much sought after delicacy.

Termite mushroom madness Nong Prue Kanchanaburi

They appear when the weather starts to change at the end of the rains. After the termites have swarmed from their nests to establish new colonies. Giving the mushroom spores in the organic matter the ants have gathered, the chance to germinate and sprout.

In the central region het khone are found in the Phetchaburi, Kanchanaburi provinces as well as the mountainous part of Suphan Buri. But the sweetest, tastiest mushroom are to be found in Nong Prue in Kanchanaburi.

This small farming town has a well established reputation as the mushroom capital of Thailand. And the stalls pop up every year at the intersection with the road into the town, transforming it into a bustling market as the customers arrive in search of the freshest and the best mushrooms on offer.

These are special days for the local people who wait patently for the first mushrooms to appear. And just before the rains cease completely there will be extreme hot and oppressive weather which they refer to rawn het or “mushroom heat”.

There is another variety of het khone grows in Isan. They are called het pluak by the locals and can be found at the beginning of the rainy season, from late May through early June. And the villagers gather them for eating rather than to sell. But when the price goes up they find their way to the markets in Bangkok.

KU Beef

I had almost given up on local beef until a chance encounter with an unreasonably tender sirloin steak at the Camp Cafe in Kanchanaburi gave us every reason to drive down to Kamphaeng Saen.

Kamphaeng Saen is home to the Kasetsart Agricultural University where they breed a sell KU Beef.  You can buy frozen meat retail from their shop on the campus as well as in bulk. Although for some cuts you need to pre-order.

There is also an onsite Steak House for potential clients who might still be a little sceptical about the quality of what is the best beef I have found in Thailand.

 

Organic

We are not farmers by any stretch of the imagination. Nor are we strictly organic. But I am constantly reminded of the practical necessity of growing organic produce as we browse the local market where all the vegetables look crisp and perfect.

Street Food

There is only one rule when browsing the food stalls at a village market, if it looks good, it probably is good and you want to try it. If you don’t the chances are it will be the one thing you will never find again.

Kluay Tod or crispy deep fried plantain bananas are an all time favourite. But you need to catch them straight out of the pan otherwise go limp and rubbery.

Hoi Tod is a Thai oyster or shellfish omelette which is a cross between an omelette and a crispy pancake. The stallholder will more often than not also serve Pad Thai.

Kanom krok is a deliciously sweet thai dessert that is a popular street food. It often consists of two layers – the base is made from a rice flour and coconut milk mix, and the topping is a sweet mix of coconut milk and sugar, plus a variety of toppings. It is cooked over a charcoal fire in a kanom krok pan. They are small half sphere shaped puddings that are golden brown and crispy on the outside, and soft and sweet on the inside.

Nam Isan or fermented pork from the North East of Thailand is one of the most delicious foods that have come out of Isan. I don’t know if I have got this right but my understanding is that it is the rectangular shaped patty on the left, usually on a stick which is fire grilled and served with birds eye chilli’s shredded cabbage and sliced ginger. The sausage on the right of the picture comes in various shapes and sizes and it is a mix including rice and it is known as Sai Krok Isan or Sai Krok Priao. There is another variation of the sausage which uses glass noodle in place of the rice which I don’t really like.