Fah Thai Magazine March/April 2018 - Infight Magazine of Bangkok Airways

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OVERTURES

A TASTE OF THAILAND

Khao Chae: A Dish Royale

WORDS SARITA URUPONGSA

By wanting auspiciousness from the

heavens, the Mon people created

a dish meant for the gods that later

became fit for royalty. Now this

ambrosial dish, Khao Chae, is enjoyed

by all.

In Mon tradition, the refreshing

fragrant dish Khao Chae (khao, rice

in Thai, while chae means to soak)

features the purity of jasmine rice

infused by floral water with the

tasty companions of savoury side

dishes – meant for celestial beings

during the Songkran rites of the

ancient Mon group.

Khao Chae was His Majesty

King Rama IV’s favourite and during

that era, Yison Phad Waan (sweetened

stir-fried eagle ray fish), and Chai

Pow Waan (sweetened dry turnips)

served as accompaniments. Other side

dishes like Hua Hom Yad Sai (stuffed

onions), Prik Yuak Yad Sai Moo (green

peppers stuffed with minced pork), and

colourful vegetables were added in

the later years of King Rama V’s reign

— making the recipe known as “Khao

Chae Savoey” the Royal Khao Chae.

After the passing of His Majesty

in 1910, the Khao Chae menu was

shared with the rest of the kingdom,

in many provinces in the central part

of Thailand and eventually become

the sought-after summertime menu,

particularly during Songkran. The recipe

we see these days is the adapted

version and is a specialty dish in menus

belonging to old-style restaurants.

Apart from the gustatory satisfaction

and the aromatic fragrance of the

cooling rice soaked in the local floral

water, each accompanying side dish is

crafted marvellously, with unique and

sophisticated ingredients and methods.

The way to prepare Khao Chae is thus

a vibrant and enjoyable process, just

like its gratifying results.

How to Make Khao Chae

Rice

Cook rice (jasmine rice is highly recommended for its ideal texture

and gentle fragrance) until it softens. In a rice cooker, this should

be a few minutes before it goes off. Drain any remaining cooking

water from the rice before pouring in cold water and do it again

until the rice cools down. Later, scrub the rice gently with both

hands to rinse off any starch and let it dry by using a straining or

cheese cloth. The next step is a little more complex and requires

the Thai aromatic candle. Smoke the rice in a container with a lid.

Put the lit candle in. Its smoke releases a fragrance that should

be that of Thai flowers like a light jasmine and cananga. Keep the

candle in and close the lid as it snuffs itself out with the absence

of oxygen. Leave it overnight to rest.

Side Dishes

Kapi Thod (deep-fried shrimp

paste balls); a key side dish.

Pound garlic, coriander

seeds, sliced shallots, sliced

Chinese ginger, and sliced

lemongrass together before

adding shrimp paste.

Add catfish meat and more

shrimp paste.

Stir-fry all the ingredients

together until they become

cooked and dry. Knead into

balls, soak them in eggs and

fry to golden perfection.

Hua Chai Pow Waan

(sweetened dry turnips)

Clean and slice the dry

turnips.

Saute sliced onions in the

pan and add the dry turnips.

Continue cooking them together,

adding palm sugar and continue

frying some more.

Add an egg and continue

frying. Make sure that it doesn’t

dry up since it can harden the

turnips and impact the taste.

Prik Yuak Yad Sai Moo

(green peppers stuffed with

minced pork)

Mix the minced pork with

garlic, peppers and season

with sugar and fish sauce for a

deeper savoury taste.

Cut open the green peppers,

clean out the membranes and

seeds inside, and stuff it with

the marinated pork mixture.

Steam in high heat, wait for

about 15 minutes until the

green peppers change colour.

Soak them in egg and fry

to golden perfection.

Fresh Vegetables

Khao Chae should be

accompanied with fresh

vegetables to cut the greasiness

of fried items. Prepare

vegetables such as Chinese

ginger, thinly-sliced green

mangoes, thinly-sliced fresh

turmeric, cucumbers, spring

onions and do carve them for

an impressive presentation.

TIP

How to Enjoy Khao Chae

Place the smoked rice in a bowl and pour the cool flower-scented and fragrant water in

before adding ice (flakes). First, taste the side dishes separately. Follow this by having the

rice and a taste of the scented water.

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