Friday, July 2, 2010
Wiley and I decided to head to the source of fish sauce. My mom loves her fish sauce and swears by Tra Chang brand, so we went out looking for it. Tra Chang (and many other brands for that matter) are located around Rayong province (Thai: ระยอง). Rayong is really close to my mom's house in Sattahip and it was a short 45 minutes before we were surrounded by fishing boats in Rayong city. We saw the Tra Chang logo off in the distance on a building and a local (thinking it was funny that we wanted to go see how fish sauce was made) told us how to get there. We drove along a narrow isthmus packed full of drying fish, fishing boats and cement fish sauce vats.
Surprisingly, we found Tra Chang with ease and wandered in. The daughter of the owner met with us and showed us the packing and explained the process to us. Fish is brought in, salted with a little sugar, placed in cement vats for 1 1/2-2 years, drained and bottled up. Pretty simple, right?
She explained quality to us. They have two levels of quality. 1 1/2 year (18 Baht) is more diluted and is used more for general purpose cooking and 2 year (34 Baht) is more for sauces and finishing dishes. I asked if there was a 3 year and they said it would be too dark to eat. Also, glass bottles are better for storage and you should try to keep it out of the sunlight. When you buy fish sauce, look at the ingredients. There should only be three ingredients: fish, salt and a small amount of sugar. This is why the Tra Chang logo has a scale with a white brick that says "100%" representing salt on the right side and fish and shrimp on the left side.
Shrimp is on the logo because they also make grapi, fermented shrimp paste. We checked that operation out, too. The best grapi is made only with a tiny species of shrimp and salt. First the shrimp are dried in the sun, mixed with salt, fermented and ground up. The picture above with the wheelbarrow full of a the reddish purple paste is the grapi ready to be packed.
The owner (the man with Wiley and Ahmalie pictured above) was nice enough to get up from a nap and chat with us. His eyes looked they could see for miles and his demeanor was that of person who stood by his actions and by the quality of his life's work. I asked about depleting fish stocks in our oceans. He didn't seem too concerned about over fishing, because the products he uses utilize the smallest fish and shrimp in the food chain. The only costs that increase for his company are labor and energy.
After the tour we went to go get lunch out farther along the isthmus and watched a rain storm come off the Gulf of Thailand and swallow up the awaiting container boats offshore.
Posted by little uncle at 6:21 AM
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Ahmalie and my aunt's hair dye/hair growth sessions. From the looks of these photos I am convinced that Ahmalie really enjoys her Spa Treatment.
Posted by little uncle at 9:20 PM
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
We drove about 45 miles out to restaurant Keson for lunch. A good day trip with the family. Khlong Khone is famous for its grapi, or shrimp paste. Grapi is one of the things that separates Thai food in Thailand from Thai food abroad. It is difficult to find high quality grapi outside the Thai border. Also, the Thai palate has become accustomed to the pungency of grapi, whereas Western palates have not. This restaurant, Keson, in Khlong Khone features grapi in many of its dishes. Such as the fried fish coated in a grapi batter and nam prik grapi served with a variety of veggies and fresh river pla tu (mackeral).
During our meal, which overlooks the river and surroundings, a boat arrived at a neighbor's house loaded with tiny shrimp to make grapi. We were able to watch them salt and mix the shrimp while we were eating our lunch.
The owner-couple use to run a Kao Geng place which served one to two choices of curries on rice. Tour groups started to show up at their door steps so someone suggested that they should make it into a restaurant. They removed their daughter's bedroom from the house and converted their living space into a restaurant.
Its a family run place with two cooks at the kitchen. All their ingredients arrives fresh daily. Servers are cousins kids and any relatives who are willing to help out. They are at a crossroads of hiring more help but too scared to let other people cook for them. The taste will change and they do not want that.
While we were their other people from BKK also drove out to eat there.
Posted by little uncle at 5:06 PM
Saturday, April 10, 2010
18 dead including 14 civilians, 4 soldiers and 825 injured in bloody clashes. So far what the hell is going on? So sad.
this video show how fast things out of hand.
this video show how fast things out of hand.
Posted by little uncle at 7:08 PM
Monday, April 5, 2010
Our lunch was so good we decided to walk around the area a little bit more. I couldn't resist myself from trying this. Yes, we were in the middle of the sidewalk. My lady gave me a great treatment. Her training took longer then she wanted too. She was told it should take about 5 days to learn how to work the threads but it took her a little more then 10 days to finally get the hang of it. On a weekend she can work up to 15 people a day @ 100 baht a pop it's very good. I'm still amazed that I did this. Some people watched with curious eyes others watched with terror. A powder was put on my face to insure for an easy clean pull. Hard to believe one can get such a clean face with some powder and strings. Will I go back? not sure yet may have to ask me in about 3 weeks.
Posted by little uncle at 7:11 AM
Friday, April 2, 2010
PK's cousins Aye and Cherry suggested we check out this street for good foods. It is in the middle of a lot of government buildings, schools and businesses. When you see a cluster of workers like this, you are guaranteed finding a location full of higher quality food vendors, especially for lunch. We strategically arrived right before the lunch rush to scope it out.
Between Ari soi 1 and 2 there is a lot of the standard fare, but the food is fresh and there is more attention to detail.
Aside from buying a bunch of snacks to take home, we settled on this noodle restaurant that has been here for thirty years. I have discovered that longevity is another sign of quality. Noodle shops are everywhere, but these noodles and garnishes on top were made with care.
Posted by little uncle at 12:25 AM
Thursday, March 25, 2010
We have finally figured out the best way to purchase groceries. The big grocery stores have questionable quality, besides we like to support local poeple. The morning market has good quality, but who wants to get up at 7am to go to the market to shop for dinner? The evening markets are convenient, but quality can be bad (who wants to buy squid that's been sitting out in the sun all day?)
This couple drives by our house at around 11am every day. The quality is unsurpassed and they have a surprising amount of variety for such a small venue. The cooler is packed with meats and seafood, veggies, and dry goods like salt, sugar and coconut milk.
Their journey starts at about 12am buying groceries to stock the truck. This is why their quality is the best. They get the most fresh meats and seafood before the other markets do. Her husband drives their truck while she sits in the back all day long. If she doesn't have what you want you can request it to be delivered the following day.
They have been doing this for about 12 years. Their days are long but they seem very happy, although one day I found her sleeping as they drove up.
Posted by little uncle at 9:59 PM