Duck beaks. Yep, they’re edible!


A plate of duck beaks


Closeup of a quartered duck beak


Grilled duck beaks

Here’s one that ranks up there with the strangest: grilled duck beaks (baak ped yang [ปากเป็ดย่าง]). This dish is usually eaten by Isaan folk when they need a snack during their drinking sessions.  The beaks are quartered when looking at them head on so each piecea is actually just one fourth of a beak.  The thinner end is near the tip-you can see teeth in the closeup.  The thicker end is where all the meat and tendons that attach the beack to the face are.  You still eat the entire thing.  The beak is brittle like bone and the meat…well…what little there is, is very tough and chewy with a strange taste.  Just munch on it like a very hard potato chip.  I wonder who first came up with the idea of this snack.  Interesting, nonetheless.

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Dried, pressed squid


Dried, flattened squid

This is a tasty bar snack with the vendors peddling their wares from push carts while honking their horn to inform other potential customers that they are nearby. These vendors frequently congregate in nightlife areas as these snacks go great with beer. Sometimes you’ll even see a vendor standing outside of a bar serving customers inside through the window so they don’t even need to leave their seat. This is your typical bplaa muuk haeng yaang [ปลาหมึกแห้งย่าง] which means dried, grilled squid.

The vendor’s cart always has a press which they can crank the squid through to flatten them. There are also rows of ‘clotheslines’ where they use clothespins to hang the pieces that are ready fro sale. There is also usually a bag full of tentacles which are not flattened. I really like the smokey, seafoody taste of these squid and the spicy peanut sauce that always comes with them works really well. It’s nice and chewy, not unlike beef jerky. Actually, that’s what I should call this snack: squid jerky. You can also purchase this pre-bagged in seven eleven, but it’s not nearly as good (or cheap) as the fresh stuff.

An alternative to this is non dry grilled squid which is much meatier since it’s not flattened. Vendors selling this are usually less mobile and don’t have the distinct horn. I don’t like these skewers of squid as much, though, because the squid beaks are usually still intact so you have to pick out some hard parts as you eat. They certainly are tasty though.


The body and tentacles


One whole squid


They sure are flattened

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More insects



Here we have (again!) some:

  • ants (miang mot daeng [เมี่ยงมดแดง])
  • water cockroaches (maengdaa [แมลงดา])
  • bamboo worms (rot duan [รถด่วน]). There name literally means train which sort of represents their shape.
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Beach vendor


Beach vendor

This is a beach side vendor selling a variety of things.  He’ll spend all day in the hot sun walking up and down the beach carrying all that stuff trying to sell his wares.  The peanuts are the tasty, boiled kind. He’s also got some cookies, jabok nuts, and eggs. Also notice the grilled, flattened squid sticking out of the pipe. An interesting selection, but let me tell you how the eggs are prepared.

There are three eggs on each skewer being warmed over the grill. How can an egg be on a skewer without making a big mess? Well, the vendor first carefully pierces the eggs open with a small nail and dumps all the liquid into a bowl. It is then mixed up with some soy sauce and probably other spices before being funneled back into the egg shells. These are then steamed until cooked where they can then be pierced all the way through without making a mess. I always thought they were actually cooked on the grill, but now I know it is just to keep them nice and warm. That sounds like a lot of work for such a simple snack, but they sure are tasty.

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The strangest Thai food of all


Pizza Hut pizza

As interesting as Thai food is, sometimes it’s their take on Western food that is truly amazing. Not just amazing, but very, very weird. Now, admittedly we probably come up with some similar aberrations of Asian food back in the West. Even so, Pizza Hut is a perfect example of oddness. Honestly, this stuff is so strange to me that I am scared to order it.

Looking at the photo should be enough, but let me share some other variations. There is one pizza available with mayonnaise as the sauce. There are other versions with a crust stuffed with cheese (not too odd yet) which is then stuffed with a fish hotdog filled with mayo! The list goes on… Check out their menu for more.

Pizza Hut is not the only culprit. At McDonald’s they have the normal items, plus other things directed towards local tastes such as spicy seaweed flavored shrimp fingers, an odd flavored shrimp mcnugget. Or their rice burger, a burger with rice crackers as the bun. You can see McDonald’s menu here. I suppose KFC and Burger King are somewhat normal here.


More of the menu

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Gooseberries – mayom

In my yard there is a gooseberry.  These goosberries, called mayom [มะยม] in Thai, are quite common in Thailand. They are very sour, but still a popular snack as the Thais like to dip fruits (sweet or not) in sugar chili dips.  They grow quite abundantly on the tree as shown here is only a small branch.


Mayom - มะยม


มะยม - Thai Gooseberries

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Fish kidney curry


Fish kidney curry

Here’s a dish that might sound strange: fish kidney curry or แกงไตปลา [gaeng dtai bplaa]. A Southern Thai dish, it is usually spiced accordingly. In other words, it is extremely spicy. According to the Royal Thai Institute dictionary:

TAI PLA ไตปลา (noun): word for the collection of organs in a fish’s abdomen of certain fish eg mackerel, including the gills too, which are pickled in salt and used in certain foods eg a curry called GAENG TAI PLA แกงไตปลา; the fish’s kidneys which are organs in the top of the abdomen connected to the fish’s backbone.

Locally, it is called pung bplaa which means fish belly, so there is some confusion over exactly what part of the fish is used.  Either way, we know it’s something from the inside that most Westerners wouldn’t normally eat!  All in all, it is pretty tasty, but being a typical curry, I’m not sure how to really differentiate it from others.

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Jicama, part 2


Fresh jicama

I had a post about jicam before.  Here’s a nicer shot from a different occassion of the jicama found in Thailand.  Look at the other post for more details.

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Candied lotus root


candied lotus root

Candied lotus roots is a snack especially popular among the Chinese community. These are fairly thick cross sections of lotus root that have been candied. Don’t ask me about the candying process; I’ll just let you know that they are very sweet and kind of like a gummi candy. I don’t really notice any lotus flavor, just sweetness. Lotus root is also used in various soups and salads that usually have some Chinese background to them.

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A bag of deep fried minnows


Fried minnows

Thai’s love frying stuff and here’s another snack that emphasizes that.  Bplaa siuw tawt [ปลาซิวทอด], or deep-fried minnows, is pretty basic but tasty…if you like fried stuff.  Just pop them in your mouth, a handful at a time.

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