Pak Grachet


Unpeeled pak grachet (water mimosa)

This is an interesting, leafy vegetable that is common around Thailand but I’ve never seen elsewhere. In English it is called water mimosa (sometimes water minosa), and in that it is called pak grachet [ผักกระเฉ] or pak runawn [ผักรู้นอน]. The pak grachet name seems to be much more common. It is one of what I consider the three common leafy vegetables of thailand, the others being morning glory (pak boong [ผักบุ้ง]) and kale/chinese broccoli (pak kana [ผักคะน้้า]).

Anyway, this vegetable is aquatic and grows along ponds or near rice paddies. It basically floats on the tops of the water with long stems that can reach to the bottom. It is fairly tedious to prepare. In the first picture you can see how it looks when freshly picked or purchased at the market-covered with a white, foam-like skin which needs to be peeled of and then the gra chet can be broken into pieces. The skin is quite thick so it probably loses half its weight by the time you finish peeling. Afterwards, it can be eaten raw with chili dips, but I believe it is more common to simply stir-fry it with some chilis and garlic. It ends up being a crispy, crunchy, tasty meal.


Water mimosa after peeling


Closeup of the pak grachet

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Gratawn – กระท้อน




Slice and bashed santol fruit

Here’s a strange fruit, called gratawn [กระท้อน], but known as santol in English. A bit large, about the size of a grapefruit with the same thickness of skin, but definitely not a citrus fruit. The taste is very strange; a combination of sour, bitter, and sweet. The texture is also odd, like a thick slime.
Perhaps the weirdest part, though, is that you need to beat the fruit before you eat it. Whether it’s hit with a bottle or smacked on the floor, there is no question that it must be beat up first. I have not been able to discern exactly why, but I think it has to do with some combination of mixing up the juices inside and softening up the flesh.
Anyway, once it has been bashed around a bit it’s ready for opening. After cutting into slices you can eat it, usually pausing to dip it into a sugar and chili pepper mixture. A very strange flavor, but somehow I like it still.

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A nice mixture of ants and coconut


Bag full of ants

While sounding weird, this dish is amazingly simple: ants mixed with coconut. In Thai called miang mod daeng sai maphrao [เมี่ยงมดแดงใส่มะพร้าว] which literally means ‘mixed ants with coconut’. From what I hear, they collect the ants by knocking their nest out of a tree into a basket. Then they have to quickly (these ones bite) take the basket with a wet cloth and somehow get the ants into a bucket full of water. Yeah, I’m missing some details here, but in the end the ants die by drowning. Finally, they are stir-fried with the coconut and you have yourself a nice tasty snack! I don’t find them to have much flavor, but they’re not bad. Definitely one of the better insects I’ve tried.


Hanging off the spoon


Big spoonful

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Catfish ‘fingers’


Catfish 'fingers'

Here’s a plate of catfish pieces from Dinosaur BBQ.  I prefer to call them catfish ‘fingers’.  nothing too odd about these, but they are very different from the catfish in Thailand.  Thais eat a lot of catfish (bplaa duk [ปลาดุก]) prepared in many ways.  Thailand is also known for some of the largest catfish in the world: the mekong giant catfish.  These fish can be in excess of 250 kilograms!  Unfortunately, they are very endangered due to overfishing so I don’t plan on giving them a taste anytime soon.

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A wonderful scallop entree

Here’s an entree of scallops from a restaurant in Rochester. Nothing too strange about this one, but it was so tasty I couldn’t resist posting the picture.  While scallops are common in some asian cuisines, it is rare to find them in Thailand.  As far as I know, even though the use of shellfish is common in Thailand, no Thai dish makes use of them since they are not harvested in the region.

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Can’t resist the trash plate


Another delicious meal

Well, everytim I make it back to the US, I must have a trash plate at some point during the trip.  Here’s this visit’s.  Wow it makes my mouth water just looking at this photo.  Too bad there’s nothing like this available in Bangkok.

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Fresh northeastern game


Deer and goose meat


Nicely cooked goose meat


Some pheasant meat

Here’s a nice collection of some less common meats.  I certainly wouldn’t consider these rare or strange, but we don’t see them all that often.  And they sure are tasty!  This is venison, goose, and pheasant all three of which my friend hunted and smoked for our eating pleasure.  We should have made some Thai dipping sauces for them.

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Tofurky is some weird meat



What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with a Tofurky? Actually these photos were taken in April, but that’s besides the point. What we have here is a totally vegan imitation turkey. Unfortunately this one isn’t molded into the shape of a turkey like the one I saw last year, but it certainly tasted a lot better. While it’s not something I’m gonna go out and search for or even order if it happened to be on a menu somewhere, I will admit that it didn’t taste too bad. Remarkably similar to turkey. The texture is what really puts me off though. Weird, mushy, close to meat but still tofu-ish.
Anyway, this one even comes with all the fixins. You get vegan stuffing, gravy, and even a fake wishbone! I don’t know what the wishbone was made of, but it wasn’t nearly as good an imitation as the tofurky itself. Anyway, I guess it wouldn’t be too bad if I was a vegan craving turkey meat. Although I’m still curious why tofurky isn’t spelled tofurkey? Wouldn’t that be a real combination of tofu and turkey?


Inside of a tofurkey...with 'stuffing'


Why is tofurky missing an 'e'?

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Geoduck – one huge clam


Odd looking geoduck


Fresh geoduck

Here’s a strange one that unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet.  These photos were taken in an Asian grocery store in New York City  I don’t know much about geoduck, but I’ll definitely need to add it to my ‘To Eat’ list.

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Alligator bits


Alligator bits

Here’s another tasty appetizer from good old Dinosaur BBQ.  I wouldn’t consider this meat overwhelmingly strange, but I would say that it’s strange not to see more Asians eating it.  Around Thailand there is a lot of crocodiles and alligators, but I have never seen it on a menu.  The only times I’ve seen these meats on a menu was in the US or Mexico.  The meat tastes good to me so I wonder why it isn’t eaten much around here?

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