Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mae Kaa (The Grocery Lady in The Truck)

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.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cooking with charcoal

I've become a proponent to cooking outside. It is cooler, the kitchen does not get messy and people congregate. There are outdoor gas burners, but charcoal is the standard way to do it at home. Charcoal is used to grill, deep fry, saute and simmer.

It was a big deal to me when I figured how to light the hardened charcoal without smoking out the entire neighborhood. First get some dried out coconut husks, pulled apart into a nest. The husks act as a starter.
Ahn, the girl that lives next to us said that back in her town in the Northeast, they use plastic bags or even a used tire to start the charcoal. There is plenty of coconut husks, so that's what I've been using. Maybe I'll use plastic bags when I get back to coconut-less Seattle to recreate that authentic flavor.
Then top with a dozen chunks of charcoal.
Light some newspaper and shove it in the hole under the charcoal/coconut husk mound.
The husks will catch quickly and start the charcoal.
As soon as the husks are burning, get a fan and briskly fan the flames until the charcoal lights up.
Let the charcoal burn a bit and...

cook with some nice even and smoky heat.