If you travel to Thailand during March to May, you will experience the hottest weather in the country. Thailand enters summer at the beginning of March. The temperature goes up to 38 celsius, which sometimes feels like 46 celsius. The most well-known festival, SongKran Festival or Water Festival, is in mid April, when the temperature is very high and perfect to splash each other with water. During hot days in summer, I have a shredded ice bowl, cold drinks, or ice cream to help myself survive from the heat. However, do you know that Thai people also like to eat hot food and very spicy food in summer? When it is hot, we need more heat!
Songkran Festival. Photo credit : chiangmaispirit
The reason why we love having hot food even when the temperature is high is because hot and spicy food makes us sweat. The body temperature will reduce when the sweat evaporates. That is why many of us feel good when we are sweating. In this article, I would like to introduce you to the food that is as hot as the summer in Thailand. Some examples of hot food Thais like to have are: boat noodles, yen ta fo (fermented tofu sauce in hot noodle soup), and Moo Krata (Thai style BBQ).
Boat noodles are not very popular outside of Thailand like Pad Thai, but it is one of the dishes Thai people who live abroad crave most! As its name shows, boat noodles were started on river boats. In the past, many people who lived by the river had merchant boats come by the piers of the houses. The merchants had produce, merchandise, and hot food. Boat noodles were one of those. Even though there are a lot less boat vendors in Thailand now and most vendors have street stores, we still call it “boat noodles”. The noodles are usually served in a small bowl which you can finish in a couple bites. Don’t be surprised by how small it is! The small bowl holds intense flavors. Typically, it always has better taste as a small bowl compared with larger ones. The noodles are topped with braised meat or fresh slices of pork or beef, and meatballs. The aromatic brown broth has been cooked for many hours. They pour the brown broth over blood and serve hot. The blood works as an enhancement for a better flavor and texture. You may expect the boat noodles to be slightly spicy if you did not mention the spicy level. Most boat noodle stores prepare the bowls with spices and some condiments beforehand because they are usually busy during their open hours. They add a chili oil to make it spicy and that makes you feel good after sweating! However, you can adjust the spicy level by mentioning it when you order.
This noodle has a special pink sauce that makes it outstanding from other noodle dishes. The dark pink sauce, sometimes almost red, is a fermented tofu sauce. It has a sour taste and distinctive smell. Yen Ta Fo originally came from China, a soup noodle with stuffed tofu and fish balls. Yong-Theu-Fu the original Chinese name of this dish, which means stuffed tofu, then the word was corroded and became Yen Ta Fo as what we pronounce in Thai now. In Thailand we can find Yen Ta Fo in the original version and adapted version, adding seafood and crispy wonton, or making Tom Yum version. When you want to order Yen Ta Fo, you should start with selecting a kind of noodles, fat, thin, or egg noodles. Then you can choose toppings and a soup or dry version! Usually this noodle is not very spicy, but it is hot. What I like about this dish is that it has many different kinds of toppings and I can play around with creating many versions, mild or spicy, and soup or dry.
Moo Krata is a thai style BBQ cooking on an aluminum dome with broth simmering around the edge of the grill. In the western world, restaurants serve appetizers, soup, salad, entree, and dessert in order. In a Thai style meal, we have every dish all at once and we try to keep a balance of experiences. Once we have a dry food (fry or stir fry), we will need a soup to eat alongside. Once we order spicy dishes, we will order non spicy dishes as well. Moo Krata is a perfect meal for balancing. We grill the meat and seafood on the top and have vegetable cooking in broth on the curved edge at the same time. The dipping sauce for Moo Krata is spicy, so you need a broth to soothe your tongue. The juice from the meat will run down into the broth creating a flavorful and perfect soup for cooking the veg. Thai people are joyful and we like festivals. Moo Krata is very popular when family and friends are getting together. It combines the experiences of cooking and eating together as a group. That’s why many Thais love Moo Krata. You can find out more about Moo Krata on one of our previous articles “Moo Krata, a joyful eating experience of Thais | หมูกระทะ อาหารรื่นเริงประจำชาติ ถูกใจทุกเพศทุกวัย”