Sunday, 29 January 2012

True Thai Massage

she says:

One of my favourite things about travelling to Thailand is indulging in as many Thai massages as I can.  Not only are they incredibly inexpensive but in my opinion Thai massage is the ultimate massage experience.  It is a whole body massage where they really work out tight knots in your neck and back and also massage your legs, feet, arms and hands.  I find that other massages skimp on the feet (if they do them at all) and I think your poor hardworking feet deserve a lot of attention!  Thai massage also includes lots of stretching - so it is really like doing yoga without having to do any of the hard poses yourself....they do it all for you.  So, for my birthday a girlfriend and I booked into True Thai massage.  I found this placed through google and noticed that their facebook page has numerous discounted deals True Thai Massage.  I purchased a great deal which was 'buy two or more 60 min massages and pay $59 each' (instead of the normal $70 price).

True Thai do an awesome Thai massage, easily one of the best Thai massages I have had.  Of course the massages I have had in Thailand are equally as good (and a lot cheaper) but seeing as I live in Melbourne True Thai will definitely suffice.  True Thai is located on vibrant Hardware Lane in the city and they also have one on Chapel Street.  I loved going to the one on Hardware Lane as it made it easy to slip into one of the restaurants for a cocktail afterwards.  I really wanted to go the The Golden Monkey for a cocktail but unfortunately it was closed - but with so many options along this strip it was not hard to find someone else willing to serve us up a cocktail.  I probably would not normally be searching for a cocktail after a massage (unless I was holidaying in Thailand) but it was my birthday so it was a nice way to kick off the afternoons celebrations.

True Thai Massage
122 Hardware St
Melbourne 3000
Ph. 96000922

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Thai Culinary Boat Noodles

he says:

I have an obsession with Thai Boat Noodles. To me they are the pho of Thailand. I have made it my mission to try every place that sells them in Melbourne which isn't proving that difficult as they aren't the most common dish on Melbourne Thai menus. So far I have found them at only four establishments, Pad Thai in Midtown, Papaya Pok Pok in Springvale, iSpicy on Victoria Street Richmond and my latest discovery Thai Culinary on Elizabeth Street Melbourne CBD.

No-one serves these in the way that I tried them in Thailand, I won't go into detail but if you are interested you can see my holiday post here. The Melbourne version is usually a single much larger bowl that you get at the boat noodle alley in Bangkok. Nonetheless I am just very appreciative that I can satisfy my boat noodle craving without having to travel to Thailand. Basically boat noodles are a rich meaty broth with rice noodles served with pork or beef, pork balls and morning glory. Usually you also get a small container with four seasoning options, fish sauce, sugar, dried crushed chillies and chillies in vinegar. I go for lots of dried crushed chill, a touch of fish sauce and a sprinkle of sugar.

Thai Culinary had been on my list for a while and I finally got the chance to check it out last week. I have to say that I was extremely pleased that I did. This was pretty easily the best version I have tried in Melbourne so far. A close second is probably Pad Thai where they serve it with delicous braised pork but they use more of a thinner (I think sen lek) noodle. By the way, don't be put off by the signage saying that it is only served on weekends, its served all week now and they haven't update the signage. The noodles at Thai Culinary was more authentic in my opinion, a thicker rice noodle that has a slightly chewy texture. The pork was quite similar to Pad Thai in that it had that fall apart texture that i just love, I think it was a different cut though as the Pad Thai pork often has a lot of rubbery tendon that I don't mind but to me it doesn't really add anything to the dish. The boat noodles broth is much richer and meatier that pho and slightly peppery, it is usually thickened with pigs blood although I'm not sure if they do this at Thai Culinary, I should have asked, I will make sure I do next time. I did ask at iSpicy and they told me that they do use blood, their broth was also fantastic as were the noodles but the pork let the dish down as it didn't have that fall apart texture that you get at Pad Thai and Thai Culinary. I could go on and on about comparing all the Melbourne boat noodle options but as I am certain I will be posting about boat noodles many more times I will keep a few things up my sleeve.

If you want to know more, check out Kat's blog Spatula Spoon and Saturday or this awesome YouTube video about boat noodles by Migration Mark from Migrationology.

So to wrap up, if you haven't tried boat noodles, get down to Thai Culinary (or Pad Thai) and give them a go. In my opinion they are far superior to pho and yet pho gets all the hype. For $8.50 at Thai Culinary with a choice of pork of beef you won't be disappointed!

Thai Culinary on Urbanspoon

K-Shock Tatsuta Burger

he says:

Another reason I love living in Melbourne is that I work in the CBD and there are so many wonderful asian restaurants to get a $10 or less lunch. unfortunately I work on William Street which is definitely not the mecca of asian restaurants and I usually jump on a tram to Swanston street or chinatown to indulge. Sometimes I don't have the time or energy to make the tram trip and need to satisfy my hunger with something closer, this is when it gets tough.

The other day was one of these occasions so I did a bit of blog research and decided to try K-Shock Bento Box for a Tatsuta burger. I found this gem via the encyclopaedic melbourne gastronome blog. Its not the easiest place to find as its hidden in a walk through foyer of a small office building. I followed Claire's suggestion and ordered it with wasabi mayo. It doesn't sound like much from the description deep fried chicken, lettuce, tomato, chilli seasoning and mayo on a sift burger bun) and that was exactly what I got but I was really happy with it. The highlights were the delicious crispy fried chicken and the lovely spongy soft bun.  The mayo was not something I had tried before and I thought it went really well with the tomato and crunchy lettuce. For only $6.50 and a 5 minute walk from the office, I'll definitely be back for another one soon!

K Shock Japanese Bento Box on Urbanspoon

Monday, 23 January 2012

Farr Rising Gippsland Pinot Noir 2010

he says:

Why is it that the stuff that tastes better usually always costs more?  I say usually because I reckon there are exceptions to this rule. They aren't easy to find though. Well on the positive side they are anyway, I'm sure it isn't too hard to find expensive wines that taste ordinary, the other way round is a bit harder.

Sadly the wine in this post is neither, well not that sadly really as this was an absolute cracker!  I have a new under $50 favourite Pinot, I just wish it was a bit more under $50. This was $45 from Blackhearts and Sparrows on Lygon Street, East Brunswick. I really like this wine store although hadn't been there in ages. The time to my next visit will be way less that's for sure. My favourite thing about Blackhearts is the tasting notes displayed with all of the wines.  In my opinion this gives a bit more independence and comparability between wines which is much harder when using the labels alone, a lot of producers don't even bother providing any tasting notes on the label which makes choosing even harder.

When it comes to choosing Pinot my strategy is pretty simple. If its from Gippsland and I haven't tried it and it isn't out of my price range I'll buy it. Secondly, if the tasting notes have the words 'forest floor', 'musky' or 'funky', I'll buy it.

I really loved this wine, definitely my favourite Pinot Noir so far this year. Its only early days but I am sure to be drinking this one a few more times, well as much as I can afford anyway. It had all the characteristics that I love in a Gippsland Pinot, medium bodied with nice smooth tannins and lots of funk. Many of the Pinot's these days are lovely and easy to drink but a bit lacking in substance, this wine had that lovely musky smokiness (in a good way, not taint), it's a special taste sensation that I equate to a nice blue cheese or a good oyster, strong, unique and maybe a bit acquired but totally wonderful!  Well that's my attempt at describing it, but don't worry I have posted Blackhearts tasting notes which are infinitely more professional!

In summary, this was a fantastic drop, a bit pricey at $45 but worth the extra $15 when compared with many of the $30 options.  Wine drinking would be so much more pleasurable if price wasn't a factor but sadly that's what it comes down to a lot of the time.  It doesn't stop me having a wish list with the Bass Phillip Pinot's at the top, and don;t get me started on Burgundy!  Oh well, one day...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Salt and Pepper Squid with Naem Khao Tod

he says:

Our friends had just arrived back from a holiday to New York so we had them around for dinner and drinks to hear all about their trip. It sounded awesome, I visited New York briefly about 5 years ago and spent the next 12 months after my return unsuccessfully trying to work out a way to move there.

I love entertaining my friends and introducing them to new food that they otherwise wouldn't have tried. I have a personal boast that a truly skilled cook can whip up a great meal after polishing off the first bottle of wine while still maintaining conversation with the guests. I actually reckon this is the true My Kitchen Rules (or whatever its called). Even Masterchef would be spiced up if all the competitors were asked to drink a bottle of champagne then hit the kitchen! So of course I am usually proud of the food that I serve up to my guests but also quite pleased with myself for being able to prepare it while still being social.

Tonight was no different. We usually opt for a slightly different serving style where we all drink until ravenously hungry, then food is served and occasionally dessert, then everyone goes home and we crash out. Initially this wasn't a deliberate decision, I was usually just having too much fun chatting and drinking and the serving of dinner would get a bit delayed. After time we found that this process worked quite well for us so now it is more a deliberate plan. If I am well organised I will usually have some appetizers to keep everyone going but often that's not the case. I also reckon another true test of skill is the old whip something up at short notice to feed a small party of guests but that's for another time.

For dinner I opted for one of our latest favourites, Salt and Pepper squid from the Vietnamese Street Food cookbook by Tracey Lister. Initially I wasn't that excited by this book but after reading it more closely and trying out a few dishes I now reckon it was a great buy. The preparation is pretty simple and the result fantastic. Obviously you have to prepare the squid, I try and cut my rings quite thin, around 5mm. These are then rolled in a mix of rice flour and potato starch with of course salt and pepper.

Next you need to pound a chopped red chill, a few shallots and some garlic in the mortar and pestle then fry this off in some oil until nicely browned.

The squid is then fried off in vegetable oil in batches until the flour mix is nice and crunchy. This doesn't take long, I usually have a few issues with oil temperature but I find if oil is at around 200 degrees when you start it comes back a bit when you add the squid.

Once the batches of squid are cooked I drain it on some paper towel then mix in the chilli, garlic and shallot mix. its not that traditional but the westerner in me can't help but serve it with a side of mayo! At least I use Kewpie mayo which makes me feel better. I love a good dipping sauce and have no objection to offering a few different sauces when it works so I also a serve a small bowl of sweet plum sauce. This is another great discovery from Bangkok, its not that easy to get in Melbourne but so worth tracking down. I reckon its a rival to sweet chilli sauce. I'm old enough to remember the days when sweet chilli sauce was actually considered quite exotic so maybe the sweet plum sauce will have the same evolution and we'll soon see it served up with fried potato wedges at the local fish and chip shop...

This recipe gives me the chance to use my new toy, an awesome cast iron LPG wok burner. This thing is brilliant, the flames are so big they lap around the edge of the wok! I love it!

The Naem Khao Tod salad is also a simple easy and delicious option. I should say that my version doesn't use the fermented Naem sausage so strictly speaking its really a Khao Tod salad. My best guess is that this roughly translates to Fried Rice salad, Khao = Rice and Tod = Fried. I have cooked this with Naem sausage which is available in melbourne at the Footscray and Abbotsford Thai grocers but I was a bit unsure about serving it raw so I lightly fried it and found it made the salad very oily so as its also a bit of a mission to get it, I just cook the salad with out it.  The highlight of the salad is the crispy rice, I first tried this at Yim Yam in Yarraville after reading "Six of the Best Melbourne Dishes" review by Matt Preston and I have to agree with him, the texture of the crispy rice is really something special. I recently visited the new Yim Yam in Collingwood and they still have this on the menu with the description, "Matt Preston's favourite!" I have never seen this served anywhere else which is something I just can't work out, it really surprises me how many great Thai dishes just aren't served in most Melbourne Thai restaurants. I use a recipe from She Simmers, another extremely informative and beautifully presented blog. Well worth taking the time to scour through the wonderful history of Thai dishes.  The She Simmers dressing is quite simple and very delicious but I have to be honest and say that it isn't as good as the dressing at Yim Yam's, its just another one of those times when you are enjoying something so good but really have no clue how to even start to try and reproduce it.

Finally, with dinner we enjoyed a simple cheap favourite "le Chat" Pinot Noir 2010. I didn't have time to get to the bottle shop after work so not wanting to make it too complicated for him, I asked my friend to grab a bottle of this on his way over. It's imported from France, although I'm pretty sure it can't be classed as Burgundy. At $20 its a great option, nothing too big or bold about it, just a nice smooth drop with a nice tanneny touch without any of the objectionables you can get from some of the cheaper pinot, just good easy heart and mouth warming drinking.

Hello Possum!

he says:

We have a bit of a possum problem at our our house as it's an old house and we live close to a park. The other night we had one in our backyard so we grabbed the camera and took a few shots, I was really happy with this one and thought it was worth posting.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Es Teler 77

he says:

For lunch the other day I decided I wanted something different so I went to Vietnamese Noodle House on Swanston street for their Com Hen (rice salad with tiny clams). Unfortunately, they were sold out which was pretty annoying seeing as I was all worked up for it. This is the only place I've seen Com Hen for sale in Melbourne, which is a bit odd as usually all the less common Vietnamese dishes are in Footscray, maybe I just haven't searched hard enough. I first tried Com Hen when we visited Hue, we were accosted by the usual cyclo operators and as it was extremely hot we succumbed and agreed to a tour. It turned out to be a great decision as our guide was excellent and very responsive to my food questions. He told me that Com Hen was a specialty in Hue and took us to a great restaurant that we returned to the next day for another fix.

Anyway, back to Melbourne. It was such a hot day that I didn't feel like noodle soup, even though Vietnamese Noodle House does pretty good versions of my favourites, Bun Rieu and Bon Bo Hue. So I left and headed up the road to Es Teler 77. This is an Indonesian franchise that has restaurants all over the world, I call it the Indonesian McDonalds. Of course they don't sell burgers, just great cheap pretty authentic Indonesian food. My go to meal is the Bihun Goreng cause I'm a sucker for vermicelli rice noodles. This is a great light noodle dish with a lovely array of asian vegetables and a delicious sauce that I always finish down to the last strand of noodle. My preference is for chicken but it also comes in a seafood option.  Its a great cheap lunch option too at $8. Es Teler 77 also have a Carlton restaurant which has a fancier fitout but the same cheap prices plus a few extra dishes that you can't get in the city restaurant like the braised ox tail special, delicious!  Here's a link to an old 2005 review of Es Teler 77 by Matt Preston, he gives a great description of a few of the dishes plus a good story of how the franchise was born.

Es Teler 77 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Yeo's Lychee drink

she says:

My daughter and I popped into the Victoria Market today to get some fresh fruit.  It was so hot today and we were both very thirsty.  We stumbled into Minh Phat (will need to check the spelling or that later) which is the asian grocer across from the markets.  This place is awesome - jam packed with heaps of asian groceries.  I am usually here once a week.  Anyway I was looking for something different to drink that I could share with Charlie and thought I would give Yeo's Lychee drink a go.  If you like lychees this is a lovely drink. I did not check out the sugar content as we were too busy drinking it (or should I say I was too busy trying to steal it back from my daughter - she is a bit of a hog when she likes something) but at this point I was beyond caring.  It was $1.20 and it was cold which was a win win for me on this super hot day.

Marinated pork with Papaya salad

she says:

So tonight I was left to fend for myself food wise as Andy had a work function...We still had some papaya left so I quickly made up the papaya salad which is so easy and so tasty (grated papaya, normal mint, vietnamese mint and coriander).  There are many variations of this salad - I don't think adding coriander is authentic but I love the stuff so I add it when I can. I also chopped up some chilli and garlic to add to the already prepared Nuoc Mam (fish dipping sauce).  We usually refer to the Nuoc Mam recipe from 'Little Vietnam' by Nhut Huynh - which by the way is an awesome book full of easy and very tasty Vietnamese recipes (including Papaya salad).

I marinated the meat earlier in the day using a recipe that Andy found on the internet.
1kg beef or pork, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp garlic (5/6 garlic cloves) minced, 1 heaped tbsp minced lemongrass, 1tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp dark soy sauce, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1/4 tsp baking soda.  I usually put the garlic, lemongrass, salt, chilli and black pepper in the motor and pestle and bash to a paste like consistency.  Then I add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Slice the beef or pork thinly (Andy always suggests putting the meat in the freezer first for 30 mins or so, so it is a bit harder and therefore easier to cut).  Put marinade on meat and put in fridge.

Then I use a griddle pan to cook the meat on high heat with a bit of vegi oil.  The marinated meat dish is also a big favourite of my daughters and she will devour this with rice any day of the week.

Even though there is a bit of sugar in the dressing and marinade I still think it is a fairly light and healthy meal.  This has been one of my staples for the last 2 years.

he says:

The Thit Nuong recipe is from one of the first Vietnamese food blogs I discovered, Miss Adventure @ Home. In my early days of searching out Vietnamese home style recipes I came across this great blog and slowly worked my way through many of the recipes Miss Adventure kindly posted. I really think that recipes from blogs are often much better that those from websites. The Thit Nuong is a wonderful easy to make marinade, although I usually use the beef version (with pork neck) which is almost identical to the pork but for the addition of  sesame oil which I reckon makes it even better. I also don't add any sesame seeds, not sure why?

Tan Thanh Loi Restaurant Footscray

she says:

Our usual weekend ritual these days is to go out for lunch mainly on the west side of Melbourne (with a bit of Richmond thrown in).  Some weeks we go Thai, others Vietnamese...just depends on how we feel on the day.  This weekend we went to Footscray.  Not only is there an abundance of great Vietnamese restaurants in Footscray but we also do love the Little Saigon Markets.  These markets are full of fresh produce and they also have a great array of Asian condiments, groceries and desserts.  They also have little tasting plates in front of most of their fruit so you can sample the produce.

So this weekend we were a bit undecided about where to go to eat.....we discussed our regular options until Andy mentioned that there was one around the corner from Little Saigon that he would like to try.  We walked across the road to Tan Thanh Loi and this place was packed - not a table in sight.  Great we thought, we will wait (even with a 2 year old in tow).  After only a few minutes wait a table opened up for us.  After scanning the menu we decided on Mi Vit Tiem (steamed Duck soup) and Com Ga Da Don (crispy skin chicken with rice) which is an old favourite.  Andy actually wanted Bun Thit Nuong Nem Nuong (Rice vermicelli with grilled pork and meat balls ) but this was sold out!

Mi Vit Tiem (steamed duck) was delicious.  The broth was very light and tasty and the duck was beautifully cooked.  I was given a duck maryland and the skin was lovely and crispy and the meat just fell off the bone - just the way I like it.  I was in duck heaven.  I do love duck and when it is cooked well it is so lovely!  This soup also came with loads of spring onion tops, bok choy (I am not the biggest fan of bok choy it is too watery or something for me) and an abundance of coriander which was awesome!

The Com Ga Da Don (crispy skin chicken) was nice but not the best I have had.  I still enjoyed it but I may order something else from this restaurant next time I visit......or maybe I will just order more duck!!!!

he says: 

The fried chicken was fantastic, maybe not quite as good as the version from Tan Truc Giang. I love the way they somehow get the skin so crispy while at the same time keeping the flesh so moist and juicy. My guess is that the chicken is poached first then fried?  The highlight of this dish is the fantastic sweet chilli sauce that it comes with, the little bowl they give you just never seems to be big enough! It's somehow richer that the stuff you buy in the bottle, another item to add to my "I wonder how they make that" list. 

I was pretty disappointed that the Bun Thit Nuong Nem Nuong was sold out, that just makes me want it even more! Oh well, just another reason for a return visit...

Tan Thanh Loi on Urbanspoon

Pad Kana Moo Krob

he says:

I had a bit of roast suckling pig leftover and decided it was too good to go to waste. In our house that means it really has to be used the following night as Tina is very cautious when it comes to leftovers. So much so that if I have to smell some meat or fish to check that its ok I need to make sure she doesn't see me otherwise the jig is up and no amount of convincing will change her mind.

I had the odea that I would do a Khao Moo Krob (crispy pork with rice) but I din;t have a recipe and to be honest I got a bit confused and was googling Khao Moo Daeng which is pretty similar but with red pork. So as I didn't have red pork I decided to go with David Thompson's Pad Kana Moo Krob from his Thai Street Food cookbook.  At lunch I had an idea I would be cooking the leftover pork so I dropped into Wing Cheong in Chinatown and picked up some morning glory, just a small bunch and it cost 70 cents! DT's recipe uses chinese broccoli which is also a favourite of mine but I decided that the morning glory would do just as good a job. 

The recipe is pretty simple, which is a nice change from most of the recipes in Thai Street Food. I crushed 1 tablespoon of garlic with some salt. A qucik note on garlic, I used to buy that purple garlic because it looks cool and is really strong and pungent and oozes garlic oiliness. However, these days I just buy the imported chinese garlic as it is less pungent and also much cheaper. I remember reading that the Thai garlic is much smaller and not very strong in flavour so I think the Chinese garlic is better for Thai dishes.

After chopping up the roast pork and morning glory I just heated up the wok with some oil til it was nice and hot and threw in the crished garlic and salt for around 30 seconds. After that I added the morning glory and fried it quickly then added the pork, a tablespoon of oyster sauce and a dash of soy sauce. To get it steaming DT says to add a splash of pork stock or water. i used water. I reckon if you are adding oyster and soy sauce then any subtle taste from the pork stock is not going to be missed. I always use the expensive oyster sauce as I think the cheaper one is made of some kind of oyster substitute or extract or something, anyway the premium stuff is just better.  I am using the Healthy Boy Brand thin soy sauce at the moment but I'm not 100% sold on it because I think its a bit salty but it's what I have so I just go a bit lighter with it. I also added a tablespoon of sugar and stir fried until the pork was heated through and the morning glory was nicely wilted. finally I plated it up with some rice from my trusty rice cooker and it was ready to eat! I loved it, its definitely a great way to use leftover roast pork.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Thai Desserts

he says:

I am on record as saying "I love asian food but their desserts just don't do it for me". That was up until recently and I have now discovered a love of Thai desserts. On our recent holiday to Thailand I just couldn't walk past a kanom krok or kanom buang (or any other Thai sweet) vendor without indulging. Other favourites are mango sticky rice and my absolute favourite durian sticky rice. I have cooked durian sticky rice a couple of times and will post about that another time. Using David Thompson's Thai Street Food cookbook I have made a few different Thai desserts including kanom krok, stick rice pikelets and kanom thuay (although not DT for this one) and been pretty happy with the results. Obviously not as good as the street vendors of Bangkok but good enough for us!

I remember once ordering kanom thuay from our local Thai restaurant 'Melbourne Thai Cafe" on Victoria Street North Melbourne and thought they were divine. We couldn't believe that they came in a little porcelain cup that you get to keep. It wasn't long and I was searching for a recipe to try and make them at home. After a bit of searching I discovered that they are actually bought frozen in a little packet imported from Thailand! I quickly found these packets for sale in Footscray and we must have gone through at least 10 of them in a matter of weeks. We still have a whole box of the little cups that I now use when making them from scratch.

Lately our routine after eating at one of Footscray's many Vietnamese restaurants and buying up ingredients from Little Saigon (another Melbourne wonder) is to head down to Nathan Thai and check out the dessert selection.  He also stocks many Thai groceries and of course the frozen kanom thuay packets as well as some other cool Thai products like charcoal BBQ's and bamboo steamers etc. I'm not too sure who makes his Thai desserts or if there are a few different suppliers but he always has a great range of different treats to try. Unfortunately for us, when we dropped in on Saturday after lunch at Tan Thanh Loi he was all sold out!

Not to be disheartened I offered to drive to Victoria Street Richmond where I know there are a couple of Thai Video/Grocers that also stock a great range of desserts including our favourite, kanom tokyo. I don't know the names but I think the addresses are 245 and 251 Victoria Street Abbotsford. So after driving along Victoria street we came to Hoddle and discovered that Victoria Street Richmond was closed off for the Vietnamese New Year festival!  We definitely kicked ourselves for not knowing about that! We didn't have time (or stomach room) to stop for long as I had a suckling pig to roast so Tina quickly ducked across the road and returned with three different Thai desserts.

I will do my best to describe them. the first one is our favourite kanom tokyo, we had these the first time in Bangkok and couldn't stop talking about how good they were. This version is a little different to what we had in Bangkok but no less delicous. They are the pikelet style cake wrapped around a creamy sweet pandanus custard. The green and white layered jelly come in the same pack as the red flower jellies and I don't know what they are. They are made with agar agar which is used in Thailand because it sets at room temperature. I don't mind these and they definitely have a lovely flavour but I'm not so keen on the texture which is different from the jelly I am used to and a bit squeaky on the teeth if that makes sense. The other green one is also a jelly but doesn't use agar agar, I bought these earlier in the week and had one left, I really like these as they are mostly sweetened coconut milk with pandan flavouring. Lastly we have some mung bean egg yolk desserts that I also have no name for. I have a feeling these are similar in ingredients to Thai golden threads but I'm really not sure. They are also a bit of a different flavour and texture but somehow very moorish. From reading the packet I see that they are made by TasKa restaurant in Glen Iris which is not so close to us but probably visit a visit soon. I'm pretty that the Nathan Thai desserts are made by someone different, I vaguely remember the lable had a facebook page where you can order them to be home delivered!

she says:

Yep, when it comes to sweet things I am generally up for anything.  I had three stages in my pregnancy. First trimester - eat healthy and regularly.  Second trimester - eat more but still healthy, swim everyday and indulge in sweet treats occasionally.  Third trimester - Eat cake, cake and maybe just a bit more cake (with a side serving of chocolate)!
So, I think I am fairly qualified to pass judgement on sweet treats.  Like hubby, at the beginning of our Thai/Vietnamese adventure I was not really interested in their desserts or sweets.  My lifelong training with eating sweets did not include ingredients like coconut and mung beans. How things change...........I can honestly say (and even as I write this I can't believe it) that I am finding these sweets better than any cake I have ever had.  They have so much going for them.  They are generally small, sometimes colourful, usually made with artistic flair and careful construction and they taste really yummy.  I did not immediately like these flavors when I first tried them, but they grow on you and I find myself craving them more then any other sweet treats.  My favourite from the pictured treats above is the kanom tokyo (pancake with custard filling) - I mean what's not to like!!!  Below is a picture of the first time we had kanom tokyo.  We were in Bangkok and came across these at a market and food stall in Silom.  These are slightly different in construction to the ones pictures above (not rolled up) but they are the best version of them I have had so far!

I was just looking through 'Thai Hawker Food' Kenny Yee and Catherine Gordon - a great book we picked up at a Newsagency in Thailand.  I found the name of the egg yolk desserts.  The small golden egg drops are called Thong Yip and the Golden egg flower shaped cake is called Thong Yod.  Yip and Yod - fairly easy to remember!!  According to 'Thai Hawker Food' The Golden egg drops are made from egg yolks and cooked in boiling syrup.  The golden egg cakes are boiled in the shape of a tiny pancake and then placed in a small cup (which makes them flower like).......clever!

I was back in Richmond the other day and took some photo's of the two Thai stores that sell the lovely Thai desserts.  They are both located at the beginning of Victoria Street, Richmond after you cross over Punt Road.

Roast Suckling Pig with Green Papaya Salad

he says:

We visited Daylesford last weekend with our parents and when we dropped into Spa Venison to get some food for dinner I spotted some beautiful cuts of Suckling Pig. It was quite a small pig which isn't that easy to get. They are usually much larger, although still sold as Suckling Pig. I'm pretty sure this was the forequarter or shoulder. I had planned to cook this for a friend who was visiting on Saturday so I started preparing it first thing Saturday morning so it had time to marinate fully. I used Luke Nguyen's Roast Pork recipe from Songs of Sapa, its supposed to be for pork belly and I have cooked it many times using belly but I was pretty confident it would work well with my Suckling Pig. Basically it is mostly seasoned with chinese five spice, salt and annatto oil and then basted with sesame oil. I decided to prepare a Green Papaya salad to go with it and used a beautiful Thai salad dressing from the Spirit House cookbook. About 10 minutes after I finished preparing the pork our friend called to cancel and the later that day we got a  call from some other friends to go around for drinks that night so I left the pork to marinate overnight for a Sunday night roast!

I was extremely happy with the final result. The pork was cooked perfectly in my opinion. I don't roast much as there really isn't a lot of roasting in Thai or Vietnamese cooking as they mostly don't have ovens. I suspect that most of the roasting you see there these days is of Chinese influence. Plus, I have been having lots of trouble with my oven lately and haven't been able to get a decent flame from any of the burners and couldn't get the oven past 160 degrees. After putting up with it for ages and using a small camping gas canister BBQ for my wok for months I finally decided to pull the oven out from the wall and check it out. I wasn't really expecting to be able to do much but thought it was worth a look anyway. You can imagine my elation when I noticed that the braided hose was kinked, so after a bit of unkinking I tried the burners which immediately spurted out huge flames!  Brilliant!

For cooking the pork I had the oven at about 250 degrees for 1/2 an hour or so then reduced it to 180 for another 1/2 hour while basting at regular intervals. I cheated a bit to crisp up the crackling and put it under the grill for 10 minutes or so. I am always a bit tentative about making sure the meat is cooked through and came up with a new (and pretty obvious) idea of using my thermometer probe that I mostly use to check my deep fry oil temperature. A quick google search told me that the internal temperature needed to be around 75 degrees, mine was 80 so I turned the oven off and put the roast under the grill to crisp up the crackling then rested it for 10 minutes.

The final result was amazing, deliciously crispy salty crackling and lovely tender sweet flavoured meat. The salty oiliness of the pork complimented perfectly with the chilli limeyness of the dressing.  Definitely a nice way to end the weekend.

I should also add that while cooking we enjoyed a few glasses of a new Gippsland Pinot, Wickham's Road 2011. A bargain at $17 a bottle from a great wine store on Lygon Street called Bottega Tasca. Nice medium body with some of that wonderful earthy funk that you get from Gippsland.

No post on Suckling Pig would be complete with out a mention of the Suckling Pig I cooked last year for my mate's bucks night. This was an accomplishment I am very proud of and it was an awesome fun night. I decided to go for a Babi Guling Balinese recipe and stuffed the pig with a wonderful array of asian ingredients from Ginger, Turmeric, Galangal, Lemongrass, Chilli and so much more!  I then basted it with Turmeric oil to give that gleaming golden colour. The boys were all entranced as we watched the pig turn round and round looking more and more tasty by the minute. The highlight was again the superb crispy crackling that that looked like popcorn in parts!  15 guys drinking beer and a Balinese Suckling Pig on a spit, definitely a recipe for a great time!