20 October 2008

The trundlers

Time for a confession. Recently, I've received a lot of mail with comments alluding to the fact that all sounds really great in Thailand and "wow, not a lot of bad to report." Lest you think that it is all sunny skies and blooming orchids in Bangkok, I thought it was time to note a four legged creature that is regularly making my hair stand on end.

Prior to moving here, I kept my phobias well hidden from most people (don't let a close sibling or a well connected mother tell you otherwise). But, several times a week, I have to take a deep breath as goose bumps rise on my arms, a chill comes over me in the 100 plus degree heat and I come toe to claw with my nemesis.

While I am fortunate that our home seems to be an enemy-free zone, it only takes a couple of blocks on our daily walk before I find my shoulders tensing in anticipation of a possible encounter.

In the very early days of our time in Bangkok, I was cautiously optimistic that I would never run into a rat (while my husband was realistic in knowing he'd eventually cross paths with his nemesis: the deeply hated cockroach). Rather quickly, my eyes were opened and I realized, with great fear, that the Thai rat was even worse than my previously stated phobias allowed.

These little suckers are tame and act as though you should provide them with a mini lounge chair and a drink with an umbrella in it. Thai rats are what the animators at Pixar had in mind when they created Ratatouille. Let's just say, while not as photogenic as Pixar's version, you can just imagine them having full conversations in their little communities with one another. And, my daughter seems to think they're cute (shiver!). So, to avoid my daughter's request of one coming home as a pet (ahhhgg... shiver!), the name "the trundlers" was born. 

Let me explain, all parents will recognize the spelling phase-- you know, your children's vocabulary increases and you look at your significant other and say "Should we go to the T-O-Y-S-T-O-R-E?!" Well, my daughter is particularly adept at now understanding that spelling equals a secret. So, in this scenario, we can no longer spell "R-A-T" and we don't want to point them out due to my earlier point of having to have the pet discussion (ahhhgg... shiver again!). Thus, my husband and I have created a series of code words, as needed. In this case... "the trundlers." There goes another trundler. There sure are a lot of trundlers today. Watch out: trundler at 1 o'clock.

Now, I can say that I am no less phobic and no more comfortable with rats than I was when I first landed here. However, the presence of trundlers in the street after a storm, walking lazily along the sewer lines every once in awhile or crawling past an orchid is something I try to ignore. My daughter's interest seems to be waning, but I'll continue to speak in code for as long as it will last.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 19
Fish wrapped in leaves
How do you follow a posting on rats with a recipe? You ignore it, move on and provide a fantastic recipe that everyone should try!

For the fish:
8 leaves cabbage
1 fillet of white fish (cod or snapper work well), cut into four individual portions
8 green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
about 1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
red pepper flakes, optional to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1 mango, sliced thinly

For the sauce:
1 mango, mashed
1/4 cup coconut milk
fish sauce, to taste (about 1 tablespoon)
red pepper flakes, to taste

Bring a full pot of water to a boil and add the cabbage leaves. Cook until tender and pliable. Remove from water, cool, pat dry and set aside. Add salt and pepper to the fish so that it is well seasoned. Place one leaf of cabbage on a work surface, add one piece of fish, top with two green onions, a pinch of garlic, a pinch of ginger, optional red pepper flakes and two slices of mango. Wrap the leaf around the fish, add another leaf and wrap so that the fish is wrapped like a package. Place in a well oiled small sized baking pan. Continue with the other three fillets, placing them closely together in the baking pan. Place in a 350 degree oven and cook until the fish is opaque. Cooking time will vary depending on the size and type of fish you selected, but generally takes about 20 minutes. While the fish is cooking, combine the sauce ingredients in a pot over very low heat. Stir until well combined. Serve by placing the wrapped fish on top of a thin layer of rice and top with the heated sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

1 comment:

  1. Never seen anyone combine rats and recipes. But it worked here. I look forward to cooking the fish.


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