Thaiblog: Angus An of “Maenam” Eats Lamnairai & Wichian Buri…

December 12, 2009 

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Chef Angus An and his wife Kate are currently traveling in Thailand doing research for Maenam, their popular Thai restaurant in the People’s Republic of Kitsilano. They have been keeping a journal of their tasty adventures, and will be keeping Scout readers abreast of them with guest blog dispatches and photos as they go…

Lamnairai & Wichian Buri

We had one day of rest back in Bangkok before heading off to Lamnairai, Kate’s hometown, for a few days. During the one afternoon I was here last year, I was able to try one of the town’s specialties, jumbo wild river prawns. These are hard to catch and very expensive. In fact, most of the locals can’t even afford them and usually you need to book in advance for them to catch the prawns—one by one. When fresh, they can run up to $15 CAD a kilo. A good-sized prawn can be as big as half a kilo, or a full day’s wage for most locals.

After 2.5 hours of driving, we arrived just in time for dinner at a riverside restaurant for these jumbo prawns. We had them three ways. The first was hot and sour prawn soup (tom yum goong). The brains of the prawns blend into the soup and make a rich and distinct flavour. The second was a basic grilled prawn salad with chili jam dressing and lemongrass (plah goong). The third and last was definitely my favourite: simple grilled prawns served with Nahm Jim sauce. The prawn bodies are split in half and the claws are grilled separately, the brain (tomalley) is sweet and buttery with an intense yet still subtle prawn flavour.

The next day we drove an hour to Wichian Buri to continue my search for Gai Yang (grilled chicken). Wichian Buri is a small town but everyone owns a Gai Yang restaurant, I would have to say the Gai Yang here is better than the ones of Chiang Mai. Everyone has slightly different versions of marinades for Gai Yang. Some have spices, or some is as simple as palm sugar, fish sauce and coconut cream. But the secret, I soon realize, is all in the charcoal, and the trick is in the grilling.

Over a dying charcoal (very low heat) the chicken is grilled very slow (45min-1 hour) until skin is carmelized. The chickens aren’t big. In fact, they are about the size of the rock hens we use at the restaurant for our grilled Geng Gola. I think I’m going to try to build a grill in our back alley next summer…

We decided to have dinner at a restaurant known for their deep fried duck intestines. These taste like crunchy duck skin, only drier and almost cracker-like. My favourite dish other than the intestines was the hot and sour chicken soup, served with chicken gizzards, livers, aged tamarind and young tamarind leaves.

Kate’s brother helped us worked out a new dish, the 8 spice fried fish (plah tort samun plai). It is delicious, and we made and ate it for breakfast. It has all of the Thai aromatics (garlic, shallots, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, lemongrass, chillies, green pepper corns, and lime zest), which are fried and tossed with fried fish with a caramelized tamarind palm sugar sauce.

Next: we return to Bangkok in preparation to Hua Hin beach. More soon…

Scout Guest Blog

Part One | Part Two

One Response to “Thaiblog: Angus An of “Maenam” Eats Lamnairai & Wichian Buri…”

  1. khristian on December 14th, 2009 6:55 pm

    Angus,

    If you build a grill in the back alley I’ll never be able to drive through there to my next appointment (I’ll have to stop and eat)- you may as well build a drive-thru window!