Khao San ROAD, THAILAND
After an eleven and a half hour flight, we finally arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. We barely slept on the plane, wafting in and out of consciousness whilst the latest Avengers film played on the tiny screen in the seat in front. We’re jet lagged and a bit overwhelmed by being in a strange new place so the temptation to get a taxi is hard to resist, but this is the first day of a very long trip so best not to blow the budget straight away.
The 30 minute train journey goes by in a flash. Our mind is racing for the entire trip. We only bought a one-way flight. Where are we going to go from here? Who will we meet? What adventures await?
Before we know it the train pulls into the final station and we disembark. We could try to decipher the myriad of signs or we could just check google again. Our trusty sidekick guides us 600m to the bus station outside Century Movie Plaza. We wait 15 minutes as bus after bus pulls in, until the No. 59 appears. There’s no machine to print our ticket this time, so we have to talk to the bus conductor. Luckily his English is far better than our Thai, so we get a ticket and take our seat. The roads are far more interesting than the rails! Tuk-tuks weave in and out of the traffic, whilst motorbikes laden with far more people than you think possible navigate through impossibly small gaps. It’s like an automotive ballet!
As we approach a stop the conductor motions for us to get up, along with the other tourists on the bus. We have arrived at Democracy Monument, just a few minutes walk from Khao San Road where our luxury hostel awaits. Time for some food and cocktails…
All that travelling has made us thirsty so what better introduction to Thailand than our Thai take on the classic White Lady cocktail.
This is similar to a gin sour with the addition of an orange liqueur to bring some additional citrus notes to the drink. If you can find some fresh Calamansi juice, then this elevates the flavours even more. Our Khao San Gin adds Thai flavours for a modern edge to this classic cocktail, with the oriental citrus notes of lemongrass and Kaffir Lime Leaf adding depth and complexity.
50ml Tarsier Khao San Gin
10ml Simple Syrup
20ml Calamansi Juice (or Lemon Juice if you can’t find Calamansi)
1 egg white (or aqua faba for a vegan alternative)
Add all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake to foam the egg white (or aqua faba if you’ve substituted this). Add ice and shake hard till chilled. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with baby’s breath flowers.
Time to get some food. The street vendors do an amazing Pad Thai, and the fresh Thai flavours work so well with our Khao San Gin. This is a classic dish and so easy to recreate at home:
1 tbsp dried shrimp
100g thin dried rice noodles
50g tamarind concentrate
60g palm sugar (use a knife to finely shave)
50g fish sauce
¼ tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 Asian red shallot, sliced
100g tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
2 tsp finely chopped pickled radish
50g firm yellow bean curd, diced
2 eggs, lightly whisked
¼ cup Chinese chives cut into roughly 2cm batons
¼ cup bean shoots, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp crushed peanuts
lime wedges to serve
chilli powder to serve
spring onion stems to serve
Soak dried shrimp in water for 15 minutes to soften slightly. Drain and discard the water.
Soak rice stick noodles in room temperature water for 30 minutes or until softened but still firm. Then cook them in boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until just tender but not too soft. Drain and set aside for later.
For the sauce, combine the tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce and dark soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside for later.
Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the shallot and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the prawns and stir-fry until almost cooked. Add the softened dried shrimp, the pickled radish and tofu and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Move everything to one side of the pan and add the egg into the empty side. Spread the egg around and allow it to set and get golden on the bottom. Then break up the egg and mix through the other ingredients. Add the noodles and the sauce. Stir- fry until well combined then toss through the garlic chives and bean shoots. Remove the pan from heat and divide noodles among serving plates. Top with peanuts and serve with lime, a spoonful of chilli powder and spring onion.
TOM YUM RED SNAPPER
After a night of eating and drinking we head to bed. The next morning we need something to pick us up. What better way than a Tom Yum Red Snapper.
A Red Snapper is a gin based version of a Bloody Mary. We’ve used our Khao San Gin and amped up the Thai flavours with Tom Yum paste and soy sauce – It’s basically a boozy meal in a glass!
50ml Khao San Gin
120ml Tomato Juice
1 teaspoon of Tom Yum Paste
15ml fresh lemon juice
10ml soy sauce
Rim glass with salt (and chilli flakes if you want to add some heat). Add all ingredients into the glass and stir to mix well. Add ice and stir until cold.
Garnish with Chorizo (optional), half a chilli and a few sprigs of Thai Basil.
THAI BASIL CHICKEN
That Red Snapper has made us hungry. Let’s go for lunch. Thai Basil Chicken is a classic stir fry full of fresh and vibrant flavours:
1 chicken breast
5 cloves of garlic
4 – 10 Thai chilies (when you fry the chilies, they aren’t as spicy)
1 tablespoon oil for frying
1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 splash of dark sweet soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 handful of Thai holy basil leaves
Fry the egg and put on a plate for later
Cut the chicken into small pieces. Rinse and peel the garlic and chilies, and pound them in a mortar and pestle or mince with a knife.
Pluck a good sized handful of holy basil leaves off the stems.
Heat your wok on high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the chilies and garlic. Stir fry them for about 20 seconds or so until they get really fragrant. Toss in your chicken. Keep stir frying continuously.
Continue to stir and cook your chicken until it’s just about fully cooked all the way through (depending on the size pieces of chicken and how hot your fire is, it should take about 2 – 3 minutes). If it starts to get dry, add just a tiny splash of water.
Add 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon light soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, and finally a splash of dark soy sauce. Keep stir frying for about another 30 seconds. Grab a handful of holy basil, toss it into the pan, fold it into the chicken, and then immediately turn off the heat
There’s so much to explore in Thailand so let’s head off and see what it has to offer. Better start thinking about where we’re heading to next…