I cannot tell you how excited I have been to do a supper club inspired by my travels in Thailand. Some of my fondest travelling memories are from Thailand both in terms of food, experiences and some of the incredible people I met along the way. I don’t know anyone who has been to Thailand and hasn’t absolutely fallen in love with the food and culture of what I can only describe as one of the most diverse countries I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. As the country is so large the food culture varies depending on where in the country you are. I was lucky enough to be allowed into a number of kitchens on my travels where I scribbled away in my notebooks to try and document as much of what I was learning as possible. Before I go into our menu for Saturday 21st I’ll give you a little overview of some of the history and regionality involved in Thai food:
Thai food is incredibly regional and influenced heavily by cultures that existed in the extremities before the nationalisation of a Thai State. The North is heavily influenced by game meats and emphasis forest and unplanted foods – generally meaty and robust with heavy influences of hot, sour and salty. Dishes here are usually accompanied by sticky (glutinous) rice.
The central plains are very different as it is based on the paddy fields so is heavily rice and fish orientated. The central plains rely on the Chao Phraya delta. The flavours are very fresh with lots of vegetables, fish and meat when it can be afforded. This is where a large number of fragrant soups originate from as well as chilli relishes, stir-fries and coconut curries for special occasions.
The North East of Thailand (bordering Laos) is vastly different. This is flat, dry and chronically poor. The food here is closer to Laotian than Thai. Food from this region is generally very hot and dry as chillies are often the only predictable crop. There is also heavy use of coconut milk in this area paring out the heat of the chillies. Bit gross but people in the North East will eat literally ANYTHING – bugs, frogs, fish, meat, ANYTHING, because protein is so scarce. This is also the origin of Pla ra (think of Nam Pla and fish paste on steroids). It’s baked in clay pots then left to ferment. It absolutely hums but is fantastic when cooked in sauces.
The gulf of Thailand is the food that most people are familiar with and is dominated by fish. Lots of fish. Food in Bangkok is heavily influenced by Chinese cooking because of the mass migration of Chinese people in the 19th Century, so there is lots of light handed cooking – stir frying – steaming – deep frying but with the Thai flavours – hot – sour – sweet.
The further south in Thailand you go the more heavily Malay influences cooking with peanuts and coconut becoming predominant along with the heavy use of fish and fresh vegetables.
Like I said that is a very, very brief overview but hopefully highlight what we’re trying to do when we say we want to take you on a journey from Thailand: North to South. Hopefully we’ll get you excited about the diverse range of food available that doesn’t include Pad Thai, Penang or Massaman. The next time you’re out at a Thai restaurant or ordering take away you may just want to order something that you cant pronounce, have no real idea what it is but rest safe in the knowledge that it will be constructed on the delightful balance of fresh, hot, sour and sweet that constitutes the base of Thai cooking.
Our menu for this event offers a range of flavours and dishes from all over Thailand. The centre of our menu will be our main course, which is why we are only serving one dessert rather than our usual trio (trust me the main course will be big enough to leave you only wanting a little plate to finish on). Tickets for this event are available here.
Thailand North to South Menu
~Nibble & Cocktail ~
Thai Basil Mojito
Mamuang Himaphan Thot
(Tangy Cashews & Chillies)
Kaeng Jut Mu Tao Hu
(Pork & Bean Curd Consommé)
Thot Man Kung
(Deep-Fried Prawn Balls with Cucumber Relish & Sweet Chilli Sauce)
(Braised Duck with Pickled Limes)
Kai Phat Bai Kaphrao
(Stir Fried Chicken with Holy Basil)
Khai Yat Sai
Som Tam Malako
(Pounded Green Papaya)
Yam Taeng Kwa
(Tossed Dressed Crisp Vegetable Salad)
Sen Chan Phat Thai
(Thai Fried Noodles)