Sea cucumbers


Sea cucumbers

These photos of an Asian delicacy were taken in Bangkok’s Chinatown. They are definitely a Chinese dish and I have no idea what these would be called in Thai. And just like many other Chinese specialties, they are relatively expensive. Ugly looking things, I’m not sure what kind of taste I would expect out of them. Probably just sea watery or something. You can read more about them at wikipedia.

Bangkok’s Chinatown is also filled with many other interesting foods, ranging from fish stomach, shark fin, expensive ginseng, dried scallops and abalone, and plenty of other things.


More sea cucumbers

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Jellyfish or squid?


The mystery photo

Another shot from Bangkok’s Chinatown. This is either jellyfish or pickled squid, but I’m not sure which. Can anyone help out?

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Banana blossom salad


Banana blossom salad

This was an interesting salad that tasted better than I expected. Banana blossoms are used in quite a few cuisines. I find that they aren’t used all that often in Thailand. Only in a few dishes and as an accompinament (commonly with pad thai). It is very, very bitter. This brings up an interesting point about bitterness in foods. I have never enjoyed anything with even a slightly bitter taste. I think most Westerners are like this. Thais (and possibly other Asians) that I know will occasionally actively seek out foods for their bitter taste. I find it very weird, but I suppose that’s just from being brought up in a totally different food culture.

Anyway, when served with pad thai, the banana blossom is raw.  Here is a picture of a raw one, although a few layers would have to be peeled off before it was usable: wikipedia. In the dish shown here, yam hua bplii [ยำหัวปลี], the blossom has been cooked and seasoned extensively.  As a result it has lost a lot of it’s bitterness (not all, though) and ends up being much more enjoyable.

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Still trying to get this thing looking alright

It’s a major hassle, but I’m still trying to get this site looking like something decent…bear with me here.

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Pork hell


Pork Hell

Ahh, one of my most favorite bar snacks.  At my local pub they have a somewhat unique dish known as หมูนรก [muu narok] which literally translates to pork hell. Easy to make since everything is deep-fried: pork, lemon grass, garlic, chilis, shallots, and a leaf called bai makruud [ใบมะกรูด]. While deep-fried [หมูทอด] pork is common, you don’t see this one around much.  Just pick at it with your fingers. It goes excellent with beer!

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The meat vendor


Hotdog stand

Americans might think they know hotdogs. I thought I knew hotdogs. Then I came to Thailand and discovered that there are more varieties of hotdogs and sausages than you can imagine. This is just a small display of the hotdogs and meatballs you can find around town. They come in all shapes and sizes. You can get chicken, pork, or fish hotdogs (beef is quite rare). You can get them somewhat fermented. They can have different seasonings. They can have rice or noodles in them with the meat. There’s always a variety of dipping sauces for the meat. You get the picture. The only downside is think about what goes into a hotdog in the US. Now just remember that this is Thailand… Tasty, though.

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Bua loi kai waan [บัวลอยไข่หวาน]


The egg

Yet another tasty Thai dessert. This is called bua loi kai waan [บัวลอยไข่หวาน] which literally means sweet rice flour balls and egg. It is served out of a hot, coconut cream broth being continually stirred in a huge vat. A raw egg is then cracked open and plopped in it and you are ready to eat. The egg gets poached pretty quickly in the hot mixture. This is a really good one but it can’t be very healthy for you.


the rice flour balls

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Filipino blood soup


Dinuguan (in the cup)

Another interesting food I happened to have in Hong Kong. Not Chinese at all, but due to the large number of Filipino workers their cuisine is quite common there. This item is dinuguan, which is essentially a stew of pork meat and pork blood. It’s the item in the cup there. The mess around it is our leftover balut shells and I can’t remember what the other item is. You can read a lot more about dinuguan over at wikipedia. It was really enjoyable. I’m not a big fan of the coagulated blood commonly found in Thai cuisine, but when liquid blood is used to flavor broths I usually find it nice and tasty. Someday I’ll have to visit the Philippines and try a bunch more of their delicious food.

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Balut, partly-developed eggs


Unopened balut

Here’s a good one… balut.

Partly-developed duck or chicken eggs, commonly eaten in the Philippines. They can also be found in Cambodia, Vietnam, and even in some parts of Thailand. These ones that I tasted were actually found in Hong Kong, but at a Filipino street restaurant.

Anyway, on to the eggs. I think the pictures below are pretty self explanatory but I’ll provide a little more info. The age of the balut makes a huge difference. the ones here are aged about 17 days. Long enough that the embryo is clearly recognizable, but there is not much hard or feathery stuff. In Vietnam they prefer balut aged up to 21 days which means that when you eat it you definitely get crunchy beaks, bones, and feathers. These older eggs are often cooked in soups.

Because this was a younger balut, the embryo ended up being soft and slimy. Basically, I just slid it down my throat like a shot of tequila. Not too bad, but a little off-putting. And that’s the embryo I’m talking about. The ‘white,’ which is now filled with visible veins, is also edible although much less appetizing in my opinion. Imagine a hard and dry cheese for the texture, but with the taste of egg.

Don’t believe me? Check out wikipedia. And if you think all my talk of embryos is gross, it’s basically the same as a normal egg-balut less than 9 days old is usually indistinguishable from a standard hard-boiled egg. Added bonus: they are considered an aphrodisiac!


Opening balut


Opening the balut


Balut - embryo separated from the white


Closeup of the egg white of balut


Balut - the embryo


Closeup of the emrbyo of balut

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Insect vendor


Vendor's cart

There’s never enough bugs for sale, is there? Here’s a typical insect vendor’s cart with all the bugs divided into neat little compartments. And of course, I had to get a closeup of the lovely maengda yet again.


Maengdaa again!

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