10 August 2008

Thirteen Days in Bangkok

As I start this entry, the sun is making its final descent over Bangkok's skyline and the air is still heavy and humid from today's rainstorm that threatened but never materialized. The kids are just winding down as we prep for bed and my husband is in the kitchen, happily finishing up tonight's dinner dishes. We've now been in Bangkok for 13 days and the big news is that we're still anxiously awaiting our shipment. Let me be the first one to say it... yes, life is adventurous and exhilarating as you learn how to adapt in a new environment (lots of tales to tell in future, more rested days). But, after converting the cardboard corner covers that came with our mattress delivery into pirate hats, car ramps, musical instruments, pirate hat version 2.2 (and dodging the request for mommy to please make them into a new stuffed animal), lack of belongings with two young children in tow gets old verrrry quickly. So, with each passing day we hope that our shipment arrives on our doorstep soon.

The flights went well and we are already loving our new home, feeling in a lot of ways that we belong. We're exploring the city each morning, attempting to pick up a newly needed item on our outings and then returning to relax and swim. With just a few suitcases full of odds and ends to our name, we're learning to live with our beloved rice cooker, a set of sheets, a few of the Fisher Price Little People and some paper plates! This, though, has given us plenty of opportunity to figure out public transportation, investigate our local market (they deliver!!!), and try out the few words of Thai that we know. 

We're all just exiting the jet lag that accompanied us and the week ahead will be one in which I attempt to restore the kid's pre-move routine while T begins work. The enormity of the adventure (the prep of the last several months, the good-byes and the arrival in a foreign city) is sinking in and our bodies and minds are fatigued.

Since I love to entertain and I have found myself far and away from loved ones, this blog will be my way to not only document my journey as an expat in Thailand, but also as a way to play virtual hostess. My first gift to you...

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. one: 
Snapper in Coconut Mango Cream
After living on a diet primarily consisting of steamed rice, this was one of the first new dishes I've tried using fresh, local Thai ingredients. The recipe is adapted from a leaflet at our local grocery. And to make it fun, you can attempt to cook it in the method that I like to call 'sans-shipment' and use two plastic forks to flip the fish in the lava-like poaching liquid (paper plates make for a beautiful serving platter)!

2 mangos
2 green scallions
1 cup of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of red chili paste*
2 small fillets of red snapper

Place two mangos, roughly diced, and two green scallions, chopped, into a dry saute pan. Cook over medium heat until mango starts to turn golden (the consistency will grow soft as well). Turn the heat down and add one cup of coconut milk and one teaspoon of red chili paste. Simmer over low for about two minutes, stirring to combine flavors. Add two small fillets of red snapper, cover in liquid completely and slow poach until fish is opaque (you may wish to flip the fish to encourage quicker cooking, but it is not entirely necessary). Serve hot with rice.**

* The chili paste I found at my local store included ground chilies, fermented shrimp paste, ground ginger and crushed garlic. If you can't find something similar, I recommend using a bit of red pepper flakes, a touch of ground ginger, a dash of garlic powder and a tiny splash of fish sauce to recreate the flavor.

** We enjoyed Thai Black Forbidden Palace Rice with this dish, which is traditionally used to make black sticky rice pudding. Serve with your favorite steamed rice (a wild rice blend would be tasty).

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