PHP Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in ..../includes/class_bootstrap.php(433) : eval()'d code on line 110
Culinary caper to Isan
Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    30,363
    Thanks
    6,408
    Thanked 5,318 Times in 3,446 Posts

    Culinary caper to Isan

    Culinary caper to Isan
    By: YVONNE BOHWONGPRASERT
    Bangkok Post

    Thailand's northeast is the source of some of the most original and popular dishes served up at table around the country


    Northeast Thailand is characterised by a landscape largely barren, extreme weather and hardy people. It is also reputed for some of the most popular food served up at tables around the country, and a hospitality that's warm and endearing to tourists visiting this region also known as Isan.

    However, not many people travel here because of the general perception that it is arid and its tourists attractions scattered too far apart. For an understanding of this less travelled part of Thailand and to explore its culnary delights, we recently visited Khon Kaen, the region's educational and technology hub.
    Starting at the Hong Moon Muang City Museum, we dug up a wealth of information about its history and the lifestyle of its people.

    Although Khon Kaen's fame as a trading point dates back to the reign of King Rama I more than two centuries ago, it wasn't until Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat declared it the administrative centre of the Northeast in the 1960s that it achieved prominence.

    Student guides escort visitors around the museum, built like a tunnel and divided into five sections, each uniquely designed and adorned with wax models depicting the style of life in the old days, replicas of artifacts and so forth, sure to stir up your curiosity.
    The tour commences with an introduction to the topography of Khon Kaen. Exhibits showcased include human and dinosaur remains, clay pottery, historical objects, a replica of community life in Khon Kaen in the last century, and another showing merchants from China, India, Vietnam and France trading goods in the province.

    Later that afternoon we made our way to Noan Sawan, a backwater village in Ubolratana district, for a demonstration of the fabled pla ra (fermented fish) of Isan, and how it is made. On hand was Khun Mae Liam, 60, who has been making pla ra for 20 years, and so successful has she been that the money she made selling it enabled her to put her children through school, single-handedly.
    Abhorred for its overpowering smell - Mae Liam's pla ra , however, is less pungent, due largely to use of iodised salt and improved hygiene and fermentation process.

    Her success prompted the rest of the village to follow suit. Today Noan Sawan is believed to be the largest pla ra making community in the province. The bulk of the fish are caught from the nearby Ubolratana Dam, which is also their source of electricity and water to irrigate farms.

    The making process seems pretty straight-forward. Freshly caught fish - about a month old - are scrubbed clean and kneaded with iodised salt and after seasoning preserved in earthen jars for a period of six months to a year.

    These days pla ra is sold in dry and watery form, and for outsiders it is best to eat in cooked form, although most northeasterners prefer it raw: "Having it raw is not as hazardous as people make it out to be. In fact, we find it more delicious raw than cooked. It appeals to our palate," she said.

    Later we sampled a string of restaurants serving up both authentic northeastern and fusion fare, the latter influenced to a large extent by neighboring Laos. As in Laos, glutinous rice or khao niew is a staple of northeast people, eaten with dishes such as som tam (papaya salad), kai yang (grilled chicken) and nam tok/larb moo (spicy pork) to name a few.

    Jim joom, a northeastern style hotpot, is a popular for its strong herb-based taste. Since meat is scarce, villagers use freshwater fish and shrimp as their principal source of protein, cooking them using herbs and spices, sometimes after fermenting them. Dishes prepared from lizards, frogs and fried insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, silkworms and beetles are appetisers native to northeastern provinces.

    Noted Thai food columnist Kanokpan Hetrakul had this to say about northeastern cuisine: "It's a beautiful partnership between the different flavours that most of the other cuisines don't offer. It has a unique blend of herbs that makes it healthy and equally delicious if eaten in the right amount. However, do go easy on the khao niew. Even the creepy crawlies that are part of the northeastern diet are full of protein."

    If you wish for more information on the TAT's Check-in I-san tours call the TAT call centre at 1672 or 02-652-777.




    One among a string of exhibits at the Hong Moon Muang City Museum in Khon Kaen town.



    Chinese traders have played a vital role in economic development of the Northeast.



    An assortment of ‘saikrog Isan’ sausages made from beef and pork.



    Khun Mae Liam shares her years of experience making ‘pla ra’ fermented fish with visitors.



    Mouthwatering ‘som tam kai yang’ is a must-try for anybody visiting Khon Kaen.
    Last edited by Khun Don; 09-07-09 at 02:59 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Philippines
    Posts
    216
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Culinary caper to Isan

    Do you have a link on how to cook ‘pla ra’ or fermented fish? Thanks in advance.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    เวลส์
    Posts
    8,410
    Thanks
    1,417
    Thanked 1,930 Times in 1,180 Posts

    Re: Culinary caper to Isan

    I'm not too sure 'cook' is the correct word here, it takes two to three years to make.

    Pickled Mud Fish, pla lah or pla ra ปลาร้า in Thai, is generally used in Northeastern Thai (Issan) and Laos dishes. To make pla ra, the fish is cleaned and cut into pieces. Then it is mixed with salt and rice bran. The mixture is then stuffed into a big water jar, topped with a piece of wood to prevent the fish from becoming bloated, and left for 2 to 3 years before being eaten. It is often added to som tum and can be heated with chiles and other spices before serving with rice, fresh or steamed vegetables, or with curry.

    David
    Last edited by David_Loves_Ubonwan; 09-07-09 at 08:21 PM. Reason: Speeling errors
    My new travel blog: https://www.weekender.blog/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Riverside,Calif
    Posts
    256
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Re: Culinary caper to Isan

    No David, its taken only 3-4 weeks to mature but you can keep them for year. When I was young my parent made and sold them I hated this stinky job.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    เวลส์
    Posts
    8,410
    Thanks
    1,417
    Thanked 1,930 Times in 1,180 Posts

    Re: Culinary caper to Isan

    Oops, I found it in a number of places on the internet that it takes two to three years to make...

    David
    My new travel blog: https://www.weekender.blog/

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •