Bangkok (meaning ‘village of the hog plum’) is a city where you might encounter culinary dynamite — from street carts and hawker stalls to Michelin-starred temples, ‘shophouse’ cafes and glitzy hotel restaurants, expect your tongue to be tingling and your taste buds rocking on a trip to the Thai capital.
Market food can vary in quality, but if you know where to go it can be utterly incredible: from tom yum goong (the sweet-and-sour soup made from spiced prawn shell stock that’s scented with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal) to unctuous, gooey crab omelette (Jay Fai, a stall specialising in this dish, has a Michelin star).
What makes Bangkok such an exciting food city is that it draws in all of Thailand’s regional cuisines — each quite distinct — and offers them in all kinds of ways – traditional and modern, cheap and expensive. Food is at the very heart of Thai culture, and culture is at the very heart of the food. And Bangkok – messy, vibrant, beautiful, unpredictable – is at the very centre of it all.
Noodle shops are ubiquitous in Thailand, and perhaps the best-known dish on offer is pad Thai (or ‘stir-fried rice noodles, Thai-style’), a dish that may have its origins in China or Vietnam, but which is enjoyed throughout Thailand because it’s quick to make, unites sweet with spicy and is truly delicious. Flat rice noodles, egg, tofu, prawns and tamarind are brought together in a wok then topped with crumbled roasted peanuts.
You’ll find high-quality pad Thai all over Bangkok and, given that this is the city of the royal court, where palace plates were somewhat more refined, this is the place to seek out the luxury version — sweet, juicy lobster pad Thai.
Lobster Pad Thai
By Vichai Mungmai, group operation development chef at Patara Thai
1 lobster tail
80g rice stick noodles (soak in water for 2 hrs)
40g firm white tofu
30ml vegetable oil
7g crushed peanuts
12g sliced red shallots
5g pickled turnip
5g Chinese chives (cut to 2cm)
50ml chicken stock
1 tbsp tamarind juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 Blanch the lobster in hot water until cooked.
2 Deep-fry lobster shell to get the correct golden colour.
3 Heat a wok, add vegetable oil, egg and red shallots, then stir-fry until fragrant.
4 Add the noodles and stir-fry together. Add the stock, tamarind sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar, white sugar and cook until noodles are tender.
5 Add the chopped sweet turnip, tofu and lobster meat. Then add beansprouts and Chinese chives. Mix thoroughly.
6 Remove from heat, plate up and decorate with lobster shell.
Pair with: Monsoon Valley Shiraz Rosé.
Salmon pink Shiraz Rosé has notes of wild strawberry and cherries, and spices on the nose. It has a fresh palate while a hint of tannin gives it length. It’s also good with ginger prawns, fish or prawn cakes, starter dishes and steamed, grilled or salad seafood dishes.
For more information and stockists, head to monsoonvalleywine.co.uk.