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North Eastern Thai Food


The Northeast was long regarded as remote from Bangkok and its direct influence. The Lao kingdoms on the other side of the Mekong River held greater sway over the region until the French drew up their Indochine boundaries in the late 19th century, forcing the vast plateau that the Thais call Isan more firmly into the embrace of Bangkok. For food, glutinous rice is preferred to the white variety. Roasting and grilling give a strong savoury flavoury to much of the food , as dose the inclusion of herb and pickled ingredients. Chillies also tend to be used with greater gusto here , to liven up a meal that might otherwise somewhat impoverished in terms of cop. Som tam is an art here. The green papaya is pounded in a mortar with lime juice, garlic , fish sauce and a number of other ingredients. A popular style has a shrimp , cherry tomato and roasted peanuts. Another has pickled field crab and very pungent fish sauce named pla ra. Kai yang or grilled chicken, is another Isan special , the art lying in the prepation of galic, coriander root, black pepper and fish sauce that is rubbed over the chicken before it is cooked slowly over hot charcoal. A variety of dips are served the chicken. Larb is a kind of salad made by tossing minced meat, poultry or fresh water fish with fresh mint leaves, spring onion , lime juice, grounded dried chili , uncooked rice that has been dry roasted to a brown colour . Neua nam tok is art of salad , using larb-like ingredients, with beef that has been charcoal-grilled so the fat run out: the Thai name translates as “waterfall beef”. An Isan meal will include a spicy soup made from lemongrass, galangal, onions ,kaffir lime leaves and chili. There are many variations, with beef tripe and liver, or chicken and tamarind leaves heading up the list of favourites. Peculiar to the region is the giant Mekong catfish name pla beuk can be caught only at a certain time of the year, usually in May , it is stored frozen for the restaurants that specialize in this dish.
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