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Lifestyles Thailand: (With Khun Keown) June 22, 2011

Posted by Trevor Bide in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Life Design, Living In Thailand, Thai Culture, Thai Food, Thai Language, Thai Travel, Thailand.
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In part four and final part of an interview conducted with Khun Keown, we touched on a few Thailand related subjects. Khun Keown was kind enough to give us her favourite Thai food and Thai travel places, plus lots of tips on Living in Thailand, Thai life style in general and even more on cross cultural relationships. Part four is our lifestyles Thailand section.

Khun Keown

On Food

Trevor: Thailand has a reputation for delicious food, please tell us your 3 favourite Thai foods or dishes that you just love and can you cook these yourself?

Keown: My preference is towards Isaan food (food from the north – east)  more than what you would call Thai food. My first dish would be (laab bpet) ลาบเป็ด Spicy duck salad, second dish would be (Gang Liang prawn)  แกงเลียงกุ้ง a Thai soup with prawns, mixed vegetables and lemon basil leaves. My third and final favourite dish is (pla yaang gap som tam)  ปลาย่างกับส้มตำ grilled fish and papaya salad. Now are you asking a former Thai chef if I can cook these?  My answer is of course I can. Laab bpet and grilled fish with papaya salad are two things I miss so much from back home, yes they get my mouth-watering.

Not quite grilled fish but Pla rad prik (ปลาราดพริก) fried fish in a rich chilli sauce

Trevor: Thailand these days has food from all over the world to choose from and considering the fact that you have lived in the UK for almost 30 years, please give me your 3 favourite foreign foods or dishes that you just love?

Keown: My first dish would be an English roast with my choice meat being lamb. My second dish is the fantastic English cooked breakfast and finally I have a real soft spot for Cheese and Apple.

Som Tam (Papaya Salad) Thai style

Trevor: It’s dinner party time Keown and you are cooking Thai food for your friends and family, please let us know the mouth-watering dishes you will be making. It will be completely Thai style all sat round with a selection of dishes to choose from and don’t forget dessert?

Keown: I would get the party started  with crispy duck and  pancakes then to follow that a small bowl of Tom-yum goong soup (ต้มยำกุ้ง). The main event of the evening will be Gang Masaman Nua beef curry and sweet potatoes,Steamed sea bass with lemon sauce, mixed vegetables ,spicy mixed seafood, crispy chicken salad and Phat Thay Goong (phat thay noodles with prawns.)  The dessert will be fresh mangos and ice cream.

Delicious Gang Massaman Beef Curry and sweet potatoes

Trevor: Lay me up a place when you have this dinner party, the menu sounds fantastic.

On Thai Travel

Trevor:  Where are your favourite places to visit in Thailand, but  outside of  your beloved Isaan to start with  and what are 3 great things to see and do?

Keown: My favourite place outside of the north-east would have to be the Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai area. Firstly I like visiting the hill tribe people to work as a volunteer , helping with any tasks that need doing , that I have the skills to perform.Secondly I just love elephants and the elephant conservation in Chiang Mai and again I enjoy to help as a volunteer with the daily routine. Finally, I like visiting the surrounding villages of Chiang Mai that make fantastic hand-made products.

I enjoy learning how to make things like baskets, hats and other products used around the house hold. I could spend days just learning that. I also love oil paintings from Chiang Mai and would love to spend some time learning to paint. I am not bad at drawing with charcoal, but would love to turn my hand at oil painting. Those are my ideal places.

Hill Tribe In The North Of Thailand

Trevor:  Where are your favourite places to visit inside Isaan (north-east) and what are 3 great things to see or do?

Keown: For an interesting city I would choose Nakhon Ratchasima , but would then after a visit divert straight to the surrounding area, but still in Nakhon Ratchasima province to ” Khao Yai ” national park. This is a great place to spend a few days with fantastic water falls, rafting and you can watch the animals by night. The healthy life of lots of walks around the park, more viewing of local village hand-made products and great fun camping at night.

Secondly would be my home of Kohn Kaen the home of the famous Khon Kaen sausage, the best in the north-east…. I’m telling you. In Kohn Kaen you can go house boat rafting . Do your own cooking with loads of fresh water fish to cook, have a sing-song together and even jump in and swim if you want… great fun.

There is so much to see and do in Kohn Kaen also famous for its hand-made Thai silk with a Thai silk festival annually.Finally would be  Nakorn Panom and this is the home of a very famous Temple called Wat Prathat Phanom (วัดพระธาตุพระนม). The temple has millions of visitors every year all coming to honour the great building.

Khun Keown Would like To work With Elephants

On Living In Thailand

Trevor: If you lived back in Thailand, where would you live and could you live cheaply without spending lots of money. Give us 3 money-saving tips for living in Thailand?

Keown: I actually quite fancy Chiang Rai, but not before Kohn Kaen. I would just give Kohn Kaen the edge because of having family close by and being that it would be easier to see them. .I would move out-of-town and in to the villages as the cost of living is far cheaper. When I fancy doing some socialising I  will pop into Khon Kaen. Perhaps I would have a small  town house in Khon kaen City for a laugh with friends and then build a proper house in the village with enough land for my fish pond, Chicken & duck houses,dogs,cats,a few lambs,garden vegetables, and fruit.

If you grow all of your own produce and make all home-made food that lasts, you will certainly be saving a lot of money. Secondly don’t go to the big super Markets, source other people who  produce local products, you will certainly purchase far cheaper than in the super markets, especially dried and fresh meats. Thirdly would be have your own water system from a well. I grew up  having our own water supply from the well and by using the water pump.

So what do you spend money on?I can live quite comfortably on  £100 a month by living the way I did and the way I have outlined here. Another method is hunting, I use to hunt for wild boar with my dad, this is very popular hunting. Along with wild boar we would find wild vegetables and wild mushrooms also.

If you live in a small village you will find folk are very generous with their home-grown produce. They will not ask for any money from you, but are delighted to let you have whatever they grow on their plot of land. However another useful tip is don’t ever refuse their kind offer, even if you have some in your own garden, just accept it and say thank you.

Simple Life, Living Off The Land

Trevor:  If you could get up in Thailand and have the perfect day, what would that be. What things would you be, see or do  in your everyday ideal day. Give us an insight in to a great day for Khun Keown?

Keown: To wake up every morning is a gift. Then to wake up with the smell of fresh air and go down to my chicken houses for some fresh eggs. Breakfast would be โจ้กใส่ไข่ (chook sai kai)(rice soup with egg), before then  attending to my vegetable garden and feeding the animals.Late morning I would prepare food for my trip to the temple. It is lunch time for the monks and me, but not mine until after the monks have eaten.

After the temple trip I would return to my house and in the garden again until late afternoon.In the evening I like entertaining guests, a few friends from the village or from the city to join me. I would make  my home-made food and I am very good at  making the delicious Isaan sausages (เนื้อแดดเดียวหมูแดดเดียว).

Its time for food, severe socialising with the locals and a few whisky and coke’s. A fantastic and contented ending to a basic and  simple life. You can give me that everyday for the rest of my life and I will be perfectly happy.

Perhaps Later vegetables From Khun Keown’s Garden

On Thai Lifestyle

Trevor: What Are Two Of Your Favourite Thai Songs

Keown: A favourite song of mine would be my cousins song she is called Patchara Wangwan (พัชรา แวงวรรณ).I was living with her for a while , she is my uncle’s daughter.It was her first album and this  song was so famous. I went to see her first television show and the song is called รักและคิดถึง (rak laa khit thung).


Secondly is the work of country singer and a very famous lady called ศิริพร อำไพพงษ์( Siriporn Umpaipong). I just love her music, she is my favourite. There is plenty of her music at You Tube.

Trevor: What Is Your Favourite Book In Thai, In English Or Both.

Keown: My Favourite book is a book called Wild Swans: Three Daughters Of China by Jung Chang. It is the sensitive yet startling story of three generations of women in one Chinese family from 1909 – 1991. The book won awards and was translated in to 30 different languages, fantastic book.


At the time of writing this post ” Wild Swans” has 409 customer reviews on Amazon.

Trevor: What Are The Three Things You Miss Most About Thailand?

Keown: That is easy, my family, my Isaan food (food specifically from the northeast of Thailand) and my home in general.

Trevor: If you could split time between two places whilst living in Thailand, which places would they be and why?

Keown: Can I have three places please. It would be Khon Kaen of course, Chiang Rai in the north as it is where my mother’s side of the family are from and Hua Hin as a holiday home.

Beach Just Outside Hua Hin in Pranbury, Prachuap Khirikhan

On Culture And Relationships

Trevor:  Can you give us foreigners three tips for having better working relationships with the Thais, something that would benefit the foreigner and the Thai.

Keown:  Building up trust, which comes from caring and showing consideration for each others culture.

Trevor: As a foreign man you awake to find your  Thai wife or girlfriend is in a very bad mood, but when you ask what is the matter you receive the deaf and dumb silent treatment or that word ”nothing”. If not intercepted early on this could go on for a few days. What is the best way for a foreigner (who has no idea what the problem is, but obviously something he has done) find out and put her back in a good mood again, before possible thunderous eruptions arrive and the situation is far more irretrievable.

Keown: I like this one and yes guys you’ve obviously done something or not, whichever the case may be. The answer lies in gift buying.

If the problem or disagreement appears not that big, then buy her a small gift. If the disagreement was more on the larger side then buy her something that she really likes and see the smile return to her face. If you try talking to her whilst she is upset and angry it will only make matters worse. It is best to leave her alone for a while , but not too long or otherwise she will continue not talking to you for days, whether its your fault or not.

The answer is a gift. Remember to a Thai, actions speak louder than words. Thai men will spoil the Thai woman with gifts.

Don’t Upset Her

Trevor: On the other hand, what are the main differences between a Thai husband/boyfriend being in a bad mood or a foreign husband/boyfriend being in a bad mood. Would you approach both situations differently for getting them out of an unpleasant mood.I know of course it depends on anyone’s personality, but as a light-hearted question are there any tips that you can give here and what are a few of the differences.

Keown:  Yes, there are a few differences. A Thai man can be very moody, aggressive and even violent, especially if he has been drinking. Most Thai women are scared to approach them at that point, the best thing is to stay well away and don’t say anything at all. In fact if he is aggressive I suggest the woman go straight to her parents or family members.

It was bad enough when my father became loud and angry, we would go to my aunt’s house, if he had been drinking as well it was worse, just escape as fast as you can.

For the Thai man who is not aggressive you can approach him with his favourite sweet and you may even get a smile followed by a bit of laughter. It all depends on the man’s behaviour and if he is generally good-natured.

It is different with a westerner/farang and I have never met one that was aggressive to me. I find it easier to approach him and talk through the problem

However if he is grumpy from work or something else outside of our relationship and taking it out on me, I would certainly let him know I was less than pleased about the situation. I would very much let him know he was being unreasonable.

I find it easier to talk through disagreements with westerners and I am never scared to approach them. I am not scared of Thai men either, but it can be a matter of life and death with them. I had a Thai boyfriend at school who chased me with a knife out of jealousy and yes I ran for my life.

Trevor: What is your dream or goal

Keown: Difficult choice this as I have two dreams. Number one would be later on when my son has gone through all his schooling would be to return home to Thailand and open a small cafe. In the cafe I would do my English cakes and teas I just love that. I actually don’t have a sweet tooth myself, but I love to bake cakes and would fatten up the Thai people when I retire.  Then the garden with all my animals and making hand made products.

Hand Painted Umbrellas In Chiag Mai

Trevor: Finally Khun Keown, do you have a couple of favourite Thai proverbs or sayings?

Keown: Yes I do,   จงพอใจในสิ่งที่ตนมี  (cong phocay nay sing thii dton mii) (be satisfied with what you have) and ชั่วเจ็ดทีดีเจ็ดหน(chua jet thii dii jet hon) (seven times good, seven times bad) meaning fortunes change . In times of difficulty don’t get downhearted, because times ahead often prove better.

Thank you Keown you have been fantastic and it has been a pleasure. I know you are off to Thailand in this summer and would only ask that you keep us up to date on your travels, with what you are doing and where you go. We would be delighted to hear the stories. I will certainly be getting you back in the future to do some more stuff.

Recommended Books

Sex Talk (In search of love and romance) by Kaewmala

Gain massive insights into the courtship rituals and modern dating culture of Thailand. Insights in here that you won’t find anywhere else. Erotic, romantic and over 900 Thai words and phrases as well to learn, a must read.


The Cultural Detective by Christopher G. Moore

If it’s Thai culture that you are seeking to learn about, then look no further than the foreign master on Thai culture. This book is packed with essays on perspectives on crime fiction writing to of course a mass of clues and insights to solving those cultural Thai mysteries. Another great read.


Heart Talk by Christopher G. Moore

If you buy sex talk by Kaewmala be sure to buy heart talk by Christopher G. Moore and visa versa. Heart Talk is the clever navigation to say I love you in so many ways using  the word ”jai” or heart (ใจ). These words are essential and every day Thai words and all nicely organised and ready to read in Heart Talk.


Thailand Fever by Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant

With everything in this book both in English and Thai there are no excuses for anyone. You really want to know how the Thai mind works in your relationship and you can be darn sure the Thai is trying to work out your western ways. Read in your language then pass to your partner to read in their’s and begin to close the gap as they say.


Brilliant Thai Forum

Entertaining, friendly and very informative on subjects Thai. Come along and meet a welcoming crowd of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans, Brits, Thais and others and be in the know.



For more articles like this one, information and tips about Thailand. Keep an eye on the website as am constantly updating tips from guest interviews on food, travel places on Thailand etc.


Thai Gourmet Food Caterers In Dorset December 29, 2010

Posted by Trevor Bide in Thai Food, Thai Gourmet Catering, Thailand.
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Sherborne, Dorset in the South West of England was the location for two pre – Christmas events at different times. The first was for Caroline Beaumont and friends and the second for John Allan and family for a proper family get-together. On both occasions Thai Gourmet were asked to prepare, cook and serve Thai food.

The Historical Town Of Sherborne

The town of Sherborne in Dorset is a delightful town with plenty of things to see and do if on a visit. The town centre itself has a varied range of shops containing art, antiques, boutiques, craft shops and quaint little cafe’s to stop for some refreshments and a fine restaurant at the top of town called ”The Green”.

  • Worth visiting is the fantastic Abbey church that dates back to the Saxon times.
  • The Sherborne boy’s school founded in 1550 and originally known as King Edward’s school.
  • Sherborne Castle which has been the home of the Digby family since 1617

Sherborne is also a fine location and base to visit surrounding towns and villages plus other nearby counties of Somerset and Wiltshire.

The actual name of Sherborne comes from the Saxon word Scir burrne and actually means ”The place of the clear stream”

Khun Lek leading chef at Thai Gourmet

Caroline Beaumont Event

Caroline and work colleagues chose dishes from two menus one being a meat menu and the other being a vegetarian menu.

The Meat Menu consisted of:

  • Chicken Satay           (Grilled marinated chicken with a peanut sauce dip)
  • Kanompang Na Gai ( Spicy chicken on toasted sliced bread with a cucumber dip)
  • Gang  khiaw wan    (Green chicken curry)
  • Gang Massaman      (beef curry and sweet potatoes)
  • Phat priaw wan        (Sweet and sour prawns)
  • Baa mii phat phak   (Stir fried noodles with vegetables)

The Vegetarian menu consisted of:

  • Tom Fak Tong (Pumpkin soup with garlic, pepper and coconut milk)
  • Yam Met Mamuang  (Cashew nuts with fresh chilli, onions, coriander and fresh ginger)
  • Khao Tom (Rice soup with fresh ginger and spring onions)
  • Spicy Fried Rice Khao Phat  (Rice fried in soy sauce, with chilli, onions and choice herbs)
  • Gang Som Gap Phak Choy  (Sour curry with fresh phak choy with healthy herbs)

Both menus came served with Thai fragrant white rice.

Caroline and friends were delighted with the many varied dishes that were supplied by Thai Gourmet and all spent a very enjoyable and relaxing evening.

Caroline Beaumont and friends

John Allan Event

Having catered for John and his family before it was just a case of being re acquainted with some familiar faces. The meal was organised by Barney Allan and together we put together a mixture of popular and varied dishes for the group. Thai Gourmet have a number of menus, but are happy to put together specialist bespoke Thai menus to suit the group.

Specially Arranged Menu:


  • Chicken Satay (Grilled marinated chicken with a peanut dip)
  • Kanompang Na Moo (spicy pork on toasted sliced bread with a cucumber dip)
  • Spring Rolls ( Mixed vegetables wrapped in thin fried pastry)
  • Som Tam (Papaya salad)

Main Courses

  • Gang Khiaw Wan Gai (Chicken in sweet spicy green curry with coconut milk and seasonal vegetables)
  • Gang Masaman (beef cooked in rich curry sauce with peanuts, coconut milk and sweet potatoes)
  • Gung Phat King (stir fried prawns with fresh ginger & spring onions)
  • Phat Thay ( noodles with pork and prawns, peanuts and bean sprouts)
  • Gang Panang Gai (Chicken in a rich curry sauce with coconut milk)

All served with plain boiled Thai fragrant white rice.

With everyone having had a fantastic meal and full to the brim it was a very successful pre-Christmas family occasion.

John Allan and Family

Thai Gourmet are available for a very comprehensive range of on the spot Thai food catering services. Whatever the occasion, birthday, anniversary, christening, friendly get-together, office party, reunion, graduation, directors meeting, you name it and Thai Gourmet can do it. Please see our popular main sit down menus, buffet menus and the legendary ”walk and talk” finger food menus.

http://www.engagingthailand.com/ (Full site with articles , please click on ”Thai Catering” for the food)

http://www.thaigourmetfoodcaterers.co.uk/ (Site for the food only)

Recommended Thai Food Books

There are not many Westerners who can create Thai food like a Thai person, but the Australian chef, restaurant owner David Thompson is one of that very small and rare group.

If you are someone whose really passionate about authentic Thai cooking and want to perhaps re-create your favourite Thai dishes that you had on holiday in Thailand or your favourite tasty Thai street food then these are the books for you.

Packed with authentic Thai ingredients like Thai ginger, galangal, Kaffir lime and lemon grass. packed with authentic recipes and beautiful, stunning photographs.

If you love to cook the full Thai main dishes then Thai Food is the book,. but if you love those delicious street food vendor delights or dinner on a stick then Thai Street food should be your choice. To be quite honest it is a shame to separate one from the other as the recipes and photographs in both are superb.

Thai Street Food by David Thompson


Thai Food by David Thompson


Thai Gourmet Food Caterers In Hampshire December 22, 2010

Posted by Trevor Bide in Thai Food, Thai Gourmet Catering, Thailand.
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Brockenhurst, the New Forest, Hampshire  was the location for a joint Christmas party/Birthday party during mid  December 2010. The party was arranged by Nikki and Phil Holt for a Christmas gathering of close friends and also with it being Phil’s birthday.

Weather Conditions

Brockenhurst was a couple of hours travel for the Thai Gourmet team as it was, but with the snow fall the day before the event and hazardous driving conditions on the day of the event difficulties were beginning to mount. After checking that all the roads were passable, Thai Gourmet set off prepared with blankets, shovels, Wellington boots and a good vehicle heater. We were determined to get the show on the road.

Scenic views on the way up to Brockenhurst

More snow

In The Heart Of The New Forest

Aside from the difficulties that snow and ice brings for travelling it did actually provide a plus point. The New Forest is a beautiful part of the country and covered in snow enhanced its beauty even more so. Sightings of deer, wild ponies a pig and a fox were all made within a few minutes of driving.

Brockenhurst itself is a village, but the largest populated village in the New Forest and lies close to the towns of Lyndhurst and Lymington. After making good time up to the New Forest ( from leaving really early, because of the weather conditions) we did stop off in the delightful village of Lyndhurst, which is the largest village within the New Forest, Hampshire.   Being a very popular tourist area Lyndhurst has a number of pubs, hotels, restaurants and galleries plus there is the quaint little shops to browse around at your leisure.

The preparation begins with Khun Lek and assistant Boobay

Tables laid and ready

The Menu

Pre Starter With Drinks: Thai savoury prawn crackers
  • Starters
  • Chicken Satay: (Grilled chicken with a delicious peanut sauce dip)
  • Papaya Salad: (Thai salad with peanuts, lime, fresh chilli, garlic and tomato)
  • Spring Rolls: (Home made spring rolls: Fresh vegetables wrapped and cooked in thin pastry with a sweet chilli dip)
  • Kanom Pang Na Moo: (Fresh spicy pork with garlic and coriander on toasted bread with a delicious cucumber dip
  • Soup

Tom Kha Gai: ( A soup with succulent pieces of chicken, lovely scented lemon grass, coriander, lemon juice with coconut milk)
  • Main Courses:
  • Gang Khiaw Wan Gai: (Green curry chicken with Thai seasonal vegetables)
  • Gang Masaman Nua: (Beef cooked in a rich curry sauce with sweet potatoes and coconut milk)
  • Thoot Man Khao Phot: (Corn cakes with garlic and pepper)
  • Phat Priaw Wan Pla: ( Tasty pieces of fish with vegetables in a sweet and sour sauce)
  • Phat Thay: (Noodles with prawns, peanuts and bean sprouts)
  • Khao: (Plain boiled Jasmine rice
  • Dessert
Sangkhaya Gap Khao Niaw: (Sticky rice and Thai custard)

  • The meal consisted of four courses starting off with the favourite Thai finger food treats of chicken satay, spring rolls and kanompang na moo the delicious toasted pork, garlic and coriander bites. To compliment these delights a papaya salad was also served known in Thai as som tam.
  • The second course was tom kha gai (chicken soup), with lemon grass, coriander, lemon juice, tender chicken pieces and coconut milk. ” Phil said the soup was absolutely fantastic” which was really nice to hear as you feel the soup can sometimes become unnoticed against the rest of the dishes.
  • Before the main course it was time to change seats and go and sit in a new place . This is a great idea to keep different conversations flowing, but on our side of the equation re identifying the two vegetarians in the party was a small challenge, but completed successfully.
  • The main course was packed with a variation of popular main Thai dishes including (gang khiaw wan) chicken green curry, gang massaman (beef curry), (phat thai) noodles with prawns, (phat priaw wan) sweet and sour vegetables with fish, (thot man khao phot) corn cakes with garlic and pepper and finally Thai jasmine rice.
  • The final course consisted of a delicious Thai custard with sticky rice and coconut milk called (sangkhaya)
Thai Gourmet had some lovely comments from the guests throughout the evening and were recognised in one of the hosts speeches for the efforts in travelling through the bad weather to get to the New Forest from Somerset. I must admit I actually hate to let people down so one way or another we were going to get there, but it was I admit a concern.
The guests dining
Two tables of guests

With the dining completed and the guests full to the brim it was time to let the dancing commence. Tables were shifted, the music volume was cranked up, party hats were still in place for a few and some wicked moves were taking place on the dance floor.
Time to dance

Just time to request a group photo of everyone and say goodbye. Thai Gourmet would like to thank Nikki & Phil for laying on such a well organised event with a cracking group of good-natured guests. A great success and a  good time was had by all.
The journey home on the roads was done at pottering along speed, but it did not matter as the work was completed and the rush over.

Everyone having a great time

Thai Gourmet are available for a very comprehensive range of on the spot Thai food catering services. Whatever the occasion, birthday, anniversary, christening, friendly get-together, office party, reunion, graduation, directors meeting, you name it and Thai Gourmet can do it. Please see our popular main sit down menus, buffet menus and the legendary ”walk and talk” finger food menus.

http://www.engagingthailand.com/ (Full site with articles , please click on ”Thai Catering” for the food)

http://www.thaigourmetfoodcaterers.co.uk/ (Site for the food only)

Food From The North Of Thailand September 24, 2010

Posted by Trevor Bide in Chiang Mai, Thai Culture, Thai Food, Thai Gourmet Catering, Thai Travel.
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Cuisine From The North Of Thailand

In the North of Thailand the cuisine has its own various flavours and influences that are different to other regions of Thailand. The Northern region is called Phak Nua and the cuisine is known as ”ahaan nua” literally Northern food.

When we talk about the North, we are talking about such places as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Saen, Lampang, Lamphun and the lower North being Sukhothai.

Vegetables are a major contributor to the Northern Thai diet as being of a slightly cooler temperature, it makes for very good vegetable cultivation.

A popular curry of the North is a dish called ”Gang Hanglay” and its a curry that actually contains no coconut milk at all and more often than not is cooked with pork meat.Containing no coconut milk is certainly unlike the curries from the Southern region. Gang Hangley is actually a product of the Burmese and was introduced to Thailand in the late 19th century with the influx of Burmese immigrants coming to Chiang Mai to work in the teak industry.

Northern Cuisine at a Khan Toke event

Besides the goodness of home-grown vegetables the northern region is renowned for the use of its natural roots and herbs. Just to read some of the ingredients in the recipe for Gang Hangley, puts you in better health straight away. Gang hanglay comprises of chilli, garlic, shallots, galangal, turmeric and lemon grass the complete package of goodness. Nowadays there are a number of Gang Hanglay recipes doing the rounds as each expert chef seems to have their own specific formula. There was a recipe for ”Gang Hanglay” doing the rounds from the west, which suggested a sitting of 4 people. This was heartily laughed at by the Thais who said why on earth would you cook ”Gang Hanglay” for less than 20 people. They like a good event to celebrate in the north.

It is now time to give you a rough guide to a few of the very popular dishes from the North of Thailand.

First of all the northern folk prefer sticky rice over the normal white rice and it is eaten with the hands.

On the curry front we have already had a look at ”Gang Hanglay”, which incidentally is a popular choice at weddings and funerals in the north and as suggested before, with pork being the choice meat. Apparently the killing of a pig suggests wealth and status.

 Two other curries often used in the north are to us in the west more from a dessert nature in sounding. This is where the similarity ends as they are both curries and fairly watery type curries at that. The first one is ” Gang Yuak”  banana palm heart curry and the second one is ” Gang Kha Nun” jackfruit curry. The northern curries are thinner than the curries in the south due to there being no coconut milk in them.

The setting for a Khan Toke evening

Khao Sawy noodles; Delicious flat egg noodles with chicken or beef, a dish the north is renowned for and if you are going to Chiang Mai, then make sure you have some. There are a number of fine ”Khao Sawy noodle stops and outlets in Chiang Mai, which I shall give the run down on in later posts.

The northern Thais are also famous for their sausages and the most popular is a sausage called ” Sai ua” 

Sai ua is regularly requested by Thais that are visiting from other regions and foreigners that know about the tasty treat. The formula to make the sausage involves a paste of kaffir lime peel, shallots, garlic, lemon grass and dried chillies blended with pork and fried to produce a delicious tasting sausage. Probably if there is such a thing, the most healthiest sausage I have heard of.

There are essentially three chilli pastes which are typically northern, but I cannot go into them all now, but have picked out mine and many people’s favourite ”Nam Phrik Awng”.  This is totally delicious and consists of pork, dried red chillies, tomatoes, lemon grass, shallots, that is pounded together and cooked . Northern Thais will usually have raw vegetables to accompany the paste, hence the paste becomes a dip. 

One of the cultural performances on a Khan Toke evening

Aside from the famous Khao Sawy noodles, ” wun sen”  the Chinese mung bean starch noodles seem to be popular in the north of Thailand as is  ”Phat wun sen ” a stir fried noodle dish with fermented sausage and egg.

It is amazing in Thailand that where ever you go various district restaurants seem to specialise in their own dishes. Just like Cornwall in England is the home of the Cornish pasty and up north you get the meat and potato pie, various Thai districts seem to have their own specialities as well. In Laplae, Utaradit the special of the day and most days is ” Mii pan” a mix of thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, coriander leaves in rice paper.

Yes, the North is a real mixture of food influences from Vietnam, Lao, Burma, Yunnanese and Shan. The north of Thailand is home to some very tasty dishes and with the emphasis heavily on herbs and vegetables a very healthy diet also.

Now its your turn to ” Thai dance”


Khantoke or Khan Toke as it perhaps should be written, bearing in mind it is two different words with different meanings. A Khan is a small serving bowl, whilst a toke is a footed table or tray and this merely represents the way in which the meal is served.

Very briefly Khan Toke is based around a meal, where diners sit on the floor around a low table eating delicious northern dishes. The dishes are served to the table on small plates and small bowls, whilst the diners eat and then watch cultural performances. Whilst it is true that northern folk used to entertain this way for family meals and in fact some still do, it was not until 1953 that the first performance was organised.

The first heard of khan toke performance was organised by a gentleman named professor Kraisi Nimanhaemin. It is said that the professor hosted the event in the honour of two friends who were leaving Chiang Mai, namely US consol George Whitney and a Chiang Mai magistrate. An agenda of fine northern dishes, music and dance was planned and he sent out invites encouraging people to dress as ”Khon Muang” basically meaning Chiang Mai natives.

Not many left now.

The Chiang Mai natives as such were not over pleased with the promoting of these events of which he did on a few other occasions, before it finally became a cultural show piece in 1972 at the Chiang Mai Cultural center. It has since been a part of many tourists itinerary when visiting Chiang Mai, but it is far too touristy now for me.

Anyway the dishes are delicious, the performances are good and the music is traditional and that’s a big part of the northern and Lanna  culture. So best to set aside the touristy part of it and just enjoy northern hospitality.

Dishes you can expect to eat at a khan toke performance include Gang Hanglay (Pork curry), Nam Prik awn and Nam prik nom chill paste dips , Mee Grop (crunchy noodles), Steamed vegetables, pork crackling, sticky rice and steamed rice.

 The dishes will be accompanied by cultural dances. The cultural dances are from the surrounding hill tribes like Hmong, Lahu, Yao, Lisu, Akha and others. The dances include the Fingernail dance, Sword dance and the circle dance. The circle dance is where the performers will come and pull you out on to the stage, so you can  give your rendition of a Thai dancer. Now at this point you can go up and give your best impersonation of a foreigner with the skill and grace of an Ox, or quickly disappear to the bar and buy another drink. I’ll see you at the bar, basically my impersonation of a chicken.

By the way before animal lovers write to me pointing out that the Ox does have skill and grace, I was referring to the art of Thai dancing only. Which they are not that good at. Other than that, a fine animal.

You can still do khan toke at the Chiang Mai Cultural Center at www.oldchiangmai.com 

Recent Events

Recent Thai Gourmet events have seen parties at the home of all Somerset venues. First was the event of Tim Scull who went for the ”chef’s special menu”. The Chef’s Special Menu consisted of the usual popular starters accompanied by some very tasty main dishes. Amongst the main dishes were (Nua Phat Nam Man Hoy) which is tender beef in oyster sauce with seasonal vegetables, (Moo Thot Gratiam Prik Thai) pork with straw mushrooms in white pepper, Thai herbs and garlic. Further dishes of King prawns with a chilli sauce dip and (Gai Phat King) fried chicken with fresh ginger and spring onions. It was a real nice family gathering of grandparents, children and friends and a lovely evening.

Tim Scull, family and friends

The next location saw Thai Gourmet heading for Lower Hook Hill another fantastic venue offered by sleeps12, to do a hen night this time. The lady organising the event Sarah Bird chose the popular menu B a firm favourite of the sleeps12 clients. Once again a fine evening was had. Dishes here included the popular starters of Chicken Satay, Spring Rolls and the delicious ”som tam” green papaya salad. The main courses were varied and plenty, but the favoured (Gang Khiaw Wan Gai) Thai green chicken curry and the other firm favourite of (Phat Thai Gung) Phat Thai noodles this time with prawns were amongst them. Matters were finished off with a dessert of (Khao Niaw Gap Mamuang) sticky rice with mango slices. After the Thai banquet the ladies then went on to learn how to make cocktails from a local firm who had arrived and set up. Why not book yourself a lovely treat and stay in one of the beautiful properties of sleeps12.   www.sleeps12.com

Sarah Bird hen night event

A lovely get-together in Yeovil,  for the 30th wedding anniversary of Roger &  Mandy Wharton.  A real nice family occasion complimented with the addition of the Taylor Made Choice menu, a menu to grace any occasion. The dishes included a fine array of the popular starters, but the main course included ”Gang Sapparot Gap Gai”  Chicken & Pineapple curry, Gai ”Phat Khing” Chicken with fresh ginger, ”Pla rad Prik” Salmon cooked in a chilli sauce, ”Talay Thai” a superb seafood platter plus Phat Thai noodles, King Prawns and grilled chicken.

Everyone was delighted with the meal and we had a charming note from Roger who said;

”The dust has settled after our glorious evening. I just needed to write to say how much we enjoyed the evening thanks to your wonderful cuisine, excellently prepared and served. So much so that we are looking for an excuse to ask you to come and see us again.” Thank you again. Sincerely,Roger


Roger & Mandy Wharton  Wedding Anniversary

Thai Gourmet catered for a fabulous birthday party in Ilminster for Philippa Vickery arranged by her mum Avril Vickery at the end of August. Dishes included Chicken Satay, spicy mushrooms cooked in a garlic sauce, green chicken curry and Phat Thai. The family had spent time in Thailand before, so there was plenty to talk about. This was the second occasion that Thai Gourmet had visited the home of Avril.

Philippa Vickery Birthday Party

Special Offer:

Thai Gourmet premier Thai Caterers in the south-west of England can put together a full Northern menu served in Khan Toke fashion for those who would like. Just send Thai Gourmet an e-mail expressing your interest in a khan Toke evening and we will put together a special evening for you, including Northern music on cd. With the master chef skills of Khun Lek and the experience of our Chiang Rai born sous chef it is not a problem.  www.engagingthailand.com

How To Cook Phat Thai Noodles April 29, 2010

Posted by Trevor Bide in Thai Food, Thai Gourmet Catering.
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      Khun Lek cooks Phat Thai

Where ever you go it would appear that the very tasty snack of Phat Thai noodles is well known and high up in the popularity stakes in Thai restaurants all over the world. The dish has always been a huge favourite with the small street cafes and street cart food vendors in Thailand and eaten more as a snack dish rather than a main dish, rather like a nice lunch. The Thais like to snack and are more prone to eating little and often rather than larger main meals during the day. Incidentally some of the most amazing Thai food is to be found in the small street cafes and roadside food vendors. As a snack Phat Thai noodles are just right and encapsulate that perfect balance that is just so Thai of hot (spicy), sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It seems  that where ever you have Phat Thai noodles and who ever cooks them appear to have their own unique style of making the dish, this is why the Thai  will have various favourite vendors they visit at lunch or on the way home that they know the style is precisely to their liking. Khun Lek the principal chef of Thai Gourmet also has her own style of cooking Phat Thai handed down from her mother before her, so get the wok out and cook along with Khun Lek.

Cook Phat Thai Noodles with Khun Lek                 

  •  2  tablespoons of oil,
  •  4 shallots finely chopped
  •  2 tablespoons of salted radish finely chopped
  •  2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  •  2 teaspoons of palm sugar
  •  100 grams of rice stick noodles
  •  4 eggs beaten
  •  50 grams of bean sprouts
  •  2 tablespoons of chopped garlic chives
  •  2 tablespoons of crushed peanuts
  •  1 piece of Tofu
  •  1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  •  1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  •  1 teaspoon of rice vinegar
  •  1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  •  1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
  •  6 spring onions


Heat the oil in a wok. Gently stir fry garlic and the shallots until golden. Depending on what type of meat or fish you are having  and in the case of the above picture here prawns, add the prawns, salted radish, crushed peanuts and tofu whilst continuing to stir fry. At this stage the heat now needs to be reduced and then add the fish sauce, lemon juice, Palm sugar, granulated sugar,tamarind juice, rice vinegar, chilli powder  stirring to dissolve. Afterwards add the noodles and stir briefly. Push the contents to one side adding a little bit more oil if required, add the beaten eggs and once they begin to set, gently scramble them, but still keeping them to one side. Serve on a plate with bean sprouts, chopped up spring onions and peanuts.

Where To Get Ingredients

Speaking largely from a UK perspective a lot of these ingredients can be purchased in ordinary super markets, but you will need to go to to the specialist Asian super markets for the authentic ingredients. If possible a specialist ingredients shop with Thai proprietors is best as they usually have everything that you need, but if not then Chinese and Indian shops stock a lot of what you will require. Khun Lek who is based in the South west of England recommends a place near Bath to her local clients called Ban Thon. They are suppliers of genuine Thai food in a place called Weston near Bath in the high street BA1 4BY. To everybody else I am sure you have your own specialised places in your town or city by now. Have great fun cooking Phat Thai….. delicious as the Thai would say (aroy maak อร่อยมาก) Khun Lek can be contacted for Thai catering events and special occasions along with Thai cookery tuition at www.thaigourmetfoodcaterers.co.uk

Delicious Thai Food Cooked In Your Own Home April 22, 2010

Posted by Trevor Bide in Thai Gourmet Catering.
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Ten or so years ago Thai cuisine was largely unknown in the United Kingdom and it was virtually impossible to get   hold of real authentic Thai ingredients. Today Thai food enjoys enormous popularity in the United Kingdom and in the western world in general with people being able to tell you not only their favourite Thai restaurants, but their favourite Thai dishes as well.

With the emergence and increasing numbers of Thai Supermarkets and delicatessens springing up all over the United Kingdom, Thai ingredients are now thankfully more widely available. In fact the British public are now adventurous enough to get hold of a  favourite Thai recipe go out and  buy the ingredients and have a bash at conjuring up some Thai culinary delights of their own. Thai food is absolutely fantastic for dinner parties and entertaining friends or for any event come to that matter with the many wonderful varieties of tastes and dishes. Of course dressing up for the evening and going out to a Thai restaurant is always a nice experience, but as a top Australian trained Thai chef once said ” the best Thai food is cooked in the homes”  and we agree,so why not dress up, stay home and invite friends to your humbled abode instead for a truly delightful Thai dinner party.

So if you have an event or occasion to arrange and would like some absolutely delicious Thai food cooked in your own home or venue of your choice, then have a chat with Thai Gourmet. Whatever the occasion, birthday, anniversary, christening, a friendly get – together, office party, business or corporate catering, you name it and Thai Gourmet can do it.

Thai Gourmet menus cover every sort of occasion

  • There  are the popular sit down menus with an aray of top tasty dishes these sort of menus are great for catching up with a few old friends sharing good food and good memories, which is surely worthwhile as life is all too short after all.
  • For those events where the need to all sit around the table is not required and the setting slightly more informal Thai Gourmet produces some magnificent Thai Buffet menus which work a real treat and are designed to give excellent value to suit your particular budget.
  • For large scale events with many attenders and little or no sit down facilities Thai Gourmet have the now legendary” Walk And Talk Finger Food Menu” not only is the food delicious, but guests can socialise at ease with glass in hand and have incredible Thai finger food delights served to them where ever they may be standing.

                               The Menus Don’t End There

  • You can choose from the set menus or select a`la carte from the open choice menus.
  • Thai Gourmet have put massive research in to producing top Thai tasty vegetarian cuisine and have devoted two entire menus to just vegetarian food. The Vegetarian Set Choice Menu is infact way ahead of it’s time, but if it’s a`la carte you are after then the Vegetarian Open Choice Menu will really hit the spot.
  • Finally when all the food is gone and the guests are completely full and contented the conversations can continue as Thai Gourmet take care of all the clearing up and leave your kitchen spotless, you don’t have to lift a finger, well perhaps another glass. For a short cut to all of the Thai Gourmet menus please view www.thaigourmetfoodcaterers.co.uk  or for the full site with food and recent events please see www.engagingthailand.com



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