A: Welcome to this week’s “Food delight”. We are …. and …, and we are very happy to be here to share some recipes with you.
B: Sawadeekha, my dear listeners.
A: Oh come on, B. You aren’t in a Thai radio show. By the way, you seem so happy today.
B: Yeah. It’s because I’ve just arrived home after a long vacation to Thailand. That good trip left me feeling so inspired. I could book a ticket and fly back to Thailand right away.
A: I saw the photos you uploaded to your Facebook yesterday. I was fascinated by the picture of a thousand lanterns lighting up the night. Did you attend a lantern festival?
B: I did. It was Chiangmai province’s lantern festival called Yi Peng, an annual event in Thailand. Ten of thousands of paper lanterns are set off into the sky and thousands more candle-lit floats are released along the river. I felt like a princess in the Disney film “Tangled”. So romantic, so beautiful.
A: Oh my little princess, you enjoyed your trip a lot, didn’t you?
B: Yes. We spent days wandering around visiting the city’s cultural relics and eating Thai food. We also went to the Ironwood restaurant, about 40 minutes by car from the city, to try their signature dish “Shrimp paste fried rice with flower salad”.
A: That sounds interesting, B. Tell me more about the dish.
B: The rice is mixed with shrimp paste and dressed with fried beaten egg, pomelo, fried dried shrimp, sliced purple onion, and hot chili peppers. Lime juice enhances the sourness and the flower salad is beautiful and delicious.
A: Wait. I see many people using flowers to decorate their food as they have a most decorative effect. I mean a few scattered flower petals on a plain cupcake can add a real wow factor, but flower salad... Hum.
|Mr Pitch Ridhikasame, the owner of The Ironwood restaurant in Mae Rim-Samoeng Road, Chaing Mai (Photo: Viet Anh)
B: Flowers not only add beauty to your presentation but can be very healthy if they’re processed the right way. Mr Pitch Ridhikasame, the owner of The Ironwood restaurant in Mae Rim-Samoeng Road, Chaing Mai will elaborate: “Shrimp paste fried rice is a Thai ancient food. We have it for a long time, more than 200 years, but to make it more interesting, I just put something that are more colorful and beautiful to the dish. So flower is the key. The flower is up to the season of flowers that we have. Today we have the purple one, you know, it’s butterfly pea flower. The yellow one is the cabbage flowers, and this one, the pink one, it’s called Mexican creeper.”
A: Cabbage flowers and butterfly pea flowers are familiar to Vietnamese people. What about Mexican creeper?
B: Mexican creeper is a climbing woody vine native to Mexico and widely cultivated in warm regions. It has heart-shaped leaves, which is why it also has another name “Chain of love”.
A: Well. It’s truly a feast for your eyes to see several tiny pink heart-shaped leaves in your dish, B. But I think for people who have never eaten or cooked with flowers before, it is important to proceed cautiously cuz not all types of flowers are edible.
B: That’s right. It’s important to identify which flowers are safe and which flowers are not, as the two may be similar in appearance. Mr. Pitch Ridhikasame again. “Yes, the cooking process, the pork it’s just similar to Vietnamese caramelized pork, exactly the same, but we put some five seasonings on it. When I live in any part of Thailand, I try to add the local seasonings to my dish. It’s the hot pepper. It grows in the north of Thailand. And shrimp paste, you also have it in Vietnam, right? We just make it with the fried rice. Remember to fry the rice on high heat. Most of the recipes I’m making, actually we make it in homemade style, like what my grandma used to make for me. I just make it for the customers. And the atmosphere of the shop, I try to make it a cozy atmosphere. When you sit here, it’s like you’re eating at your friend’s place.”
|The explosion of color, texture, and flavor is absolutely stunning and is sure to please your family and friends|
B: I never liked eating foods containing shrimp paste because of its smell, but that changed totally when I tried “Shrimp paste fried rice with flower salad”. Thai food is normally spicy, but you won’t find that taste in this dish.
A: I think this traditional dish is really simple to make at home. The explosion of color, texture, and flavor is absolutely stunning and is sure to please your family and friends.
B: Yes. I think this fabulous-looking dish with its colorful heart-shaped flowers would be just the thing to wow your sweetie on date night. But until then, goodbye.