Even though many people strongly identify the spicy tom yum soup with Thai food, the dish is actually quite rare on the street. You almost never find it among the other spicy foods at the curry stall. However, you can easily find "tom yum taste" at many noodle stalls. Either small strands of rice noodles or wheat noodles can be found tom yum style, but to my mind, wheat noodles deliver the best taste.
Ever think about where the food on your table really comes from? Maybe not, but it is sometimes a very interesting story. The fact is that a lot of plants don't originate in the places that are most associated with them. I discovered this when researching a book about Thai food a few years ago (sadly, it was never published). I found out that, although the chili pepper is widely associated with Thai cuisine, the chili plant is not native to Thailand, or even Asia. That discovery, along with the ones that followed, form the basis of this web site.
“Traveling Chili” is the story of the journeys plants have taken around the world, to end up at our supermarkets and on our tables. The facts are sometimes stranger than fiction, and there are even one or two radical make-overs along the way. This site also shares some of the local knowledge I've gained about how some foods are used, and I might even share a recipe or two.
The most recent articles published to the site are listed below.
Even in the "Land of a Million Rice Fields" (Lanna as the area around Chiang Mai was once known), as the north was once known, noodles play an big part in the Thai diet, and especially in the foods found on the street. While a great deal of national pride is invested in the country's prised Jasmine rice, Thais' feelings about noodles are more personal and emotional. Noodles, more than rice, are a "comfort food" for Thais, especially when traveling away from home.
Long beans on sale in a Bangkok market
Without a doubt, kale has to be the quintessential Thai green vegetable. In Thai, it’s called pak ka-naa. It makes a regular appearance on the table, as a stir-fried side dish, in bowls of egg noodles and as a green addition to gravy on noodles.
Chinese Kale on sale in a Bangkok market
This is one of my favorite lazy bachelor recipes. It makes enough to keep me from having to cook for a week or so. In fact, not only does it make good leftovers, it actually improves with age - so much so that I generally make it a day ahead of when I want to start using it.
This is an extremely light stir-fry that can be served along side hotter curries or stir-fries to balance out a meal.
A colorful display of sweet bell peppers at a Thai Market
Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls and sauce
A beautiful pile of Banana Chilies on sale in a Thai fresh market.