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2007.09.20

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Marvin

So many different versions of one dish and they all look so wonderful. It must've been hard to finally decide on your favorite!

Robyn

Hi Marvin - This is one of my favorite Thai dishes. That said, I am open to finding a new favorite on our next trip up north....

Austin

Ideally naam ngiao should be made with thua nao, compressed disks of soybean, not shrimp paste--this is part of what makes it a Shan dish. The shan version also just uses a tiny bit of ground pork, whereas the Thai version uses pork spareribs and blood, and is thicker.

Did you try the banana-leaf wrapped packages shown at the bottom of the second pic? They're another Shan dish, khao kan jin, rice mixed with blood and steamed and served garlic oil. Delicious. In real Shan places (like Mae Hong Son), they're served with the root of a particular leek-like veggie.

Kathin is usually eaten with raw oysters and naam phrik phao around here! Re. the omelet in kaeng som you mention, I think that's actually cha om, not kathin. Kathin is not normally cooked.

Austin

Robyn

Austin - thanks. I'm not sure that tua nao is a uniquely Shan ingredient (was it introduced to northern Thailand from Burma?). It's used widely in northern Thai dishes by non-Shan cooks (though it might be argued, of course, that Shan influence has crept into many if not most northern Thai dishes). Also used in the north, by the way, is an unpressed, 'beany' version of tua nao. (For anyone without access to this interesting ingredient, David Thompson gives a recipe in his 'Thai Food'). It's served as a dish in its own right.

Interestingly, one of your favorite Thai food writers, Suthon Sukphisit, in an article on Karen food, describes tua nao as a 'fermented peanut product'. Perhaps Karen tua nao and Shan tua nao are two different things entirely.

Actually the item in these banana leaf packets is naem, similar in taste but slightly different in shape to that which we describe here: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2006/03/_homegrown_cuis.html

Kathin - by 'around here' do you mean Bangkok? This is really interesting; I imagine that its vegetal sweetness would probably complement an oyster's brininess quite well.

If you reread the sentence you'll see that I'm referring to cha om when I mention the omelet. Certainly ate enough of those (cha om omelets, in and out of gaeng som), when we lived in Bangkok...

Austin

In cooking with my Shan friends in Mae Hong Son, they have told me that thua nao is part of their food, and you also see thua nao khaep for sale in Shan State, in northern Burma. I'll bet they brought it to northern Thailand, where it eventually spread, although obviously I have no evidence of this...

The link you provide to appears to show exactly the dish I described, and not naem as you mention, although it's hard to tell by the pic. Khao kan jin is often served in that pyramid shape.

Yep, in BKK and any coastal area where one can get oysters. I'm not sure what vegetal means, but it's very young, tender kathin that is used, which has a more subtle flavour than the mature, more pungent kathin. OK, rereading it, I see what you mean now. Kathin and cha om are actually very similar in flavour, but used in different ways.

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