Those from Hong Kong have always favored Thailand as a travel destination for its exotic culture, friendly locals and flavorful cuisine. Many view it as a second home, purchasing and investing into its property market. Chiang Mai is also a popular retirement city with the most exotic cuisine reflected in its Songkran traditions.
Songkran is the new year in Thailand. In Northern Thailand, traditional cuisine is the center of the festivity. Families across the region will make the following dishes to welcome the new year for prosperity and good luck.
In Thai, Laab is pronounced similar to good luck. For every special occasion, you will find this dish topping the tables of family gatherings and ceremonies. Unique to the region, Laab is a meat dish often made with pork, beef, chicken or fish minced finely and flavored with spices, long pepper, coriander seeds, shrimp paste and garum (fermented fish sauce). The dish is served with mint, dried chil, leafy greens and deep fried pork scratching (skin). It’s famous for its strong mix of flavors and spiciness.
The region is also famous for raw Laab, which minced raw beef is flavored with spices besides bile and blood that makes the dish slimy, extra sticky and outrageously creamy. It is laced with garlic, lemongrass and Kaffir lime making the dish extremely flavorful and full of different textures. Vendors will top the dish with fried garlic and lime leaves before adding a few slices of deep fried pork scratching. This dish is most definitely for the adventurous food connoisseurs.
Jackfruit Curry, to welcome Lady Luck
On the first day of Songkran, locals will prepare Kaeng Khanun, a curry stew made from unripe jackfruit, pork ribs, tomatoes, chilis, garlic, cha-om leaves and red onions. The cooked jackfruit is crisp and juicy, great to pair with white rice. Jackfruit in Thai, has similar pronunciation as support and help, hence the Thais believe that the dish will bring luck and blessings to the family for the new year.
Iced Cold Rice, a traditional dish
Originated from the Mon tribes, Iced Cold Rice, is traditionally served during religious rituals. Overtime, the dish has been used for alms giving and then shared among families. The main ingredients consist of jasmine flowers, floral-flavored ice cubes and rice, and deep fried side dishes .
The cooking process is much more difficult than we think. Semi-cooked rice are first prepared then soaked into jasmine-infused water, hand washed and steamed. Water is smoked with candles made from roses petals then frozen into small cubes. Once ready, everything is placed into a bowl with fresh jasmine flowers or rose petals.
A plate of sweet meat floss, deep fried fish bits, garlic, shrimp paste and salted vegetable slices is served together with sliced green mango, garlic and ginger. This sweet hot and cold dish can definitely bring a bit of a surprise.