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Thai Cooking and Food on Koh Chang Island

March 5th, 2021

Since the whole idea behind travelling is arguably to get away from it all and have a real change of scenery, the traveller’s mood is likely to dictate that they have more of an open mind, making them ready to try just about anything and everything which they wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do in their primary environment.

One area of exploration you could never avoid, even if you tried, is that of exotic culinary experiences — trying out new foods which are prepared traditionally, especially if your travels do indeed lead you to an exotic place, like Thailand’s Koh Chang island.

Those with particularly weak stomachs and go by the motto “If it tastes like chicken, then give me chicken” aren’t entirely at a loss though, since a lot of travel destinations have wised up to the fact that a lot of people who frequent those destinations are in fact tourists, so there will always but always be an escape to familiarity not too far off from wherever you may be based for that period.

If you are visiting the Thai island of Koh Chang, for instance, as much as you will have ample opportunity to dip your taste buds into a plethora of exotic local Thai dishes, you will have equal opportunity to get a real taste of some of the cuisines from all over the world, including Central and North America, South America and even Africa, in addition to the main offerings that are inclined towards native Asian dishes and there is also a very strong presence of European cuisine as well.

Such restaurants that offer a fair bit of familiarity include the likes of the Chill Restaurant as well as the Rock Sand Terrace Restaurant (situated on White Sand Beach).

Traditional Thai Cuisine

As far as dipping into the local Thai cuisine goes, Koh Chang offers a number of authentic Thai dishes which do very well to give the tourist area its deserved amount of exoticness.

Thai dishes are not exactly what you would call out of the ordinary and there probably won’t be any new or strange things you will be subjected to eating, since Thai food has a heavy emphasis on fish and sea food in general.

An authentic Thai culinary experience, in the form of a lunch or dinner (which are the two meals that probably encompass all the elements of Thai cooking), will take your taste buds on an adventurous journey, with emphasis placed mainly on how the food tastes as opposed to the portions, although the collective portions add up to a very filling meal, generally, so there should be no fear of leaving the dinner table hungry.

If your Thai dining experience has taken your taste buds for a ride that includes taste sensations that are sweet, sour, salty and even bitter, you have had the real Thai culinary experience as the authentic Thai chefs intentionally prepare their food to encompass serious flavours, through the addition of herbs and spices that complement dishes which are made up of the likes of crab, fish, a range of salads and a lot of different dishes to dip into.

A typical Thai dish, as enjoyed on this island, to the tune of a seafood platter of prawns and baked potatoes for example, wouldn’t be as simple as that. The Thai way of preparing such a dish would firstly have an edge by way of the prawns having been freshly-caught (some local restaurants allow you to come along for the fishing boat ride) and then the dish would typically be lightly-prepared, with the prawns cooked just right so that the authentic taste of the sea is preserved.

Along with the avoidance of loss of natural flavour due to overcooking, Koh Chang chefs love to add a little bit of their signature into the mix, characterised by something that would bring out the flavour of the prawns, in the case of the prawn-and-baked-potato dish, with a blend of herbs and spices accompanied by a number of dips and the presentation would be professionalised with an arrangement of something like a tomato and lettuce salad, presented uniquely with a locally prepared salad dressing and even more seasoning.

Be prepared to have a number of dishes placed in front of you, with the distinct possibility of getting overwhelmed by the seemingly endless choices offered all over the island of Koh Chang, at dining spots like the Smiling Buddha Restaurant, The Souk Restaurant and even the curiously named Pink Restaurant, which is more for those who are constantly on the move.

What is important to remember, when enjoying dishes like garlic stir-fried prawns, green curry chicken or yellow curry beef, is that the aim is to experience intense flavour in your food and not just have a filling dinner that you go on to forget about a couple of hours after dessert and this makes for the ultimate Koh Chang dining experience of Thai cooking and Thai food.

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Flavor Pairings: Why Grow Herbs For Cooking, Cocktails, And Culinary Crafts

January 5th, 2021

I remember my first herb class on growing herbs for culinary and creative crafts. I left that annual herb sale with young fragrant plants, with just enough knowledge to be dangerous wielding a trowel, and a perpetual enthusiasm that all contributed to help me form my first edible garden oasis.

After a trip to Home Depot, I was armed with shiny silver tools, bags of potting soil to house my foliage friends, fertilizer to make them grow, and the inner drive to begin digging my way to becoming a green thumb farmer girl!

Now, 20 years later, it’s hard to imagine my kitchen without a bunch of basil on the counter, herbs drying on racks, and jars of dried oregano and chocolate mint within easy reach at each meal. From summer’s juicy ripe berries, peaches, and tomatoes to fall’s vibrant harvest of squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, onto holiday turkey and ham feasts, and into hearty winter stews and casseroles, herbs enhance every season’s fare!

I’m still thrilled to witness the miracle of propagation each time with every plant. I shelter them in stormy weather, talk to them while watering, trim their leaves, and weed their beds. In return, I’m rewarded with savory, spicy, and fruity aromas, a relaxing hobby, a healthy method of adding flavor to food and cocktails that lasts all year long, and great natural photography backgrounds!

Do you have herbs and are looking for ideas on how to use them? Do you see those little plastic packets of greenery hanging in the grocery store but have no clue what to do with them? Maybe you want to expand your culinary horizons and explore your green thumb capabilities? Many people are lured into using fresh herbs through the culinary route.

This is the first in a series of articles on growing herbs for cooking, cocktails, and culinary crafts. Plus tips on pairing all kinds of flavors, from custom infused oils and balsamic vinegars to herbs, spirits, sweet and savory dishes. When you marry the right foods together into a succulent harmonious balance, the results are amazing and herbs contribute such character to your cuisine.

This isn’t about becoming a food snob or being tethered to rules, except for this one; seasoning is vital in cooking and herbs go hand in hand with that philosophy. I’ll offer general guidelines along with novel combinations I’ve discovered but there’s no one taste fits all. It’s thrilling to develop original recipes and tweak the traditional dishes we savor. Play with new ingredients. It’s great fun to use homegrown edibles but if you don’t want to grow plants yourself, buy a few freshly packaged herbs from the store and practice cooking with them.

Be daring with oil and vinegar selections. There’s a wonderful store called Savor The Olive in Virginia Beach that is a tasting room full of unique fused and infused oils and light and dark balsamic vinegars. If you have one of those in your area as well as wine tastings, take advantage of going for a visit. Experiment, so that your sense of taste gets stronger and more acute and it will tell you how much to use.

Herbs add to the enjoyment of cooking and help you personalize what you’ve prepared. Being a chef is an art. Each person has a unique touch and flavor palate. The kitchen is your studio, the plate your blank canvas. Let instinct and imagination guide you. Herbs are one of the tools in your aromatic arsenal that enable you to present a mouthwatering masterpiece.

Hope you’ll join me on a tasting tour of my fertile little deck farm as we pinch and smell the herbs, swirl and taste the wine, envision what main course will be the star of the plate, and tempt your taste buds with food that’s appealing to the eye and tongue.