13 February 2009

What I love right now in Bangkok

In celebration of Valentine's Day, here is a short list of the things I LOVE right now in Bangkok:

1. Jasmine rice. After all, how could I be Loving Rice if this didn't top the list?!
2. Chatuchak Weekend Market. THE destination for fantastic local shopping. Every trip inside the market is a new adventure and volumes could be written on the experiences one has here.
3. Prickly heat powder. Sold throughout the city at local pharmacies, this is the perfect cooling antidote to Bangkok's once again rising temperatures.
4. Our neighborhood chicken vendor. My family's solution to fast food. Ring, ring: Do you have lunch planned? No, I'll stop and get the chicken (and the fantastic peppery sauce served alongside it!).
5. Wat Pho. Even after several visits, the giant golden reclining Buddha never fails to impress me. And, the buckets that you toss baht into to create music and seek a blessing are the icing on the cake.
6. Tom Yum Soup, with the freshest of ingredients, preferably masterfully made by my husband.
7. I love that kids are adored and easily welcomed into society. Life becomes easier when your kids are included in discussion, experiences and explorations of the city.
8. The twirling, dancing pulled Thai ice tea vendor at Chatuchak Weekend Market. Truly a sight to behold.
9. I love that swimming in an outdoor pool is an option in February.
10. I love that despite media reports of the past months, Bangkok is a calm, serene and peaceful place to live.
11. The motorcycle taxis. They still make my heart flutter, even though my feet are firmly on the ground.
12. Despite the way they SLAM! into the piers, I smile each time I think of riding on one of the Chao Phraya's passenger ferries.
13. Baan Kanitha's Chicken wrapped in Pandan Leaves appetizer. One of the best restaurants in the city, Baan Kanitha serves up authentic Thai dishes in a gorgeous little setting (and their version of chicken in pandan leaves is worth buying an airline ticket for!).
14. The vendors selling the mosquito zapping tennis rackets. Being sold on almost every corner, these nifty little gadgets pack a wallop if you accidentally get bumped into one (I know from personal experience). None the less, how clever that the advent of mosquito season brings a special contraption to take care of the pests.
15. The candy colored taxi cabs. My kids and I love to stand on one of the sky bridges over a busy street and watch the cars of every color go zooming underfoot.
16. Char Siew. See below.

Cooking in Thailand: entry no. 31
Char Siew (Sweet Roasted Pork)
For whatever reason, I don't tend to naturally gravitate towards cooking pork. However, this recipe may affect further cooking expeditions! This is one of my favorite new dishes and my mouth waters at the thought of it. The bright red exterior seems almost magical as the meat cooks and creates a dramatic crackly glaze. And if any lasts beyond a first serving, the leftovers will make a plethora of new dishes. Serve alone as an appetizer or serve alongside rice and pineapple for a complete meal.

1 pork loin
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons dry white wine or cooking sherry
4 drops of red food coloring
hot mustard and sesame seeds for dipping, optional

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl/pan. Cover and marinate overnight, turning once to ensure even coloring. This is intended to be served cold, so allow plenty of time to cook in advance of your meal. Raise the top rack in your oven as high as possible, still allowing clearance for the baking dish, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Fill a shallow baking pan with water and place a wire rack on top (the rack should not touch the water). Place the pork on the wire rack and cook for approximately 10 minutes (internal temperature should reach about 130 degrees at this point, using a meat thermometer). Turn the broiler on and watch the pork closely. When the surface begins to bubble, flip the meat and allow the reverse side to brown as well. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to a cutting board to rest. Once the meat is completely cool, slice across the loin to produce very thin circles of pork. Place on a serving tray alongside hot mustard and sesame seeds for dipping.

*Warning: this is so delicious, you'll want to make an extra batch!


  1. I heart your favorite things list. This should be a regular feature! Thanks.

  2. You should give oprah a lesson. Your favorite things list is far superior to hers lately. Way to go and I'd love to see more of your favorite things in the weeks to come. (And i'm sure oprah can't cook up a mean char siew like you can!)


Looking forward to hearing your comment!