Thursday, April 05, 2012
khao-chae @ Kalpapruek CWP
Comfort food in Thai summer
Every year during the hottest month in Thailand I anticipate the coming of Songkran (Thai New Year) Festival, or Splash-water Festival in the eyes of foreign visitors, and eating of khao-chae or literally rice soaked (in icy water).
As the fuel cost increases are skyrocketing, the best way to fight electricity bills is to eat khao-chae to lower our body temperature. Khao-chae consists of rice soaked in iced-cold jasmine-scented water served with elaborately prepared side dishes.
Khao-chae chao-Mon was originated from the Mon ethnic people resident in Thailand two centuries ago, cooked to sacrifice to the God, the dish is rather simple compare to the Royal Thai version. Khao-chae chao wang (the Royal Thai khao-chae) which had been brought to the royal court of King Rama II as a dish to comfort the King (Rama II) and royal people during the hot season. The rice and water of Royal Thai khao-chae is pretty complicated and requires a long process. Half cooked rice repeatedly rinsed to get rid of the starch before further being cooked, next put in cold water to avoid a premature process, drain the water; later steaming the half-dry rice in a cloth wrapper over a volcano-hot boiler until it is fully cooked in order for the scented water to look clear with the rice, earning a firm texture. The jasmine-scented water is not prepared with less effort. Jasmine blossoms are soaked in water in a clay pot with a jasmine-scented candle carefully floating on it for the water to absorb the fragrance with the pot covered for a while; repeat the process until satisfaction is met, then pour the scented water into an earthenware pot and store them overnight. When served, add the rice in the scented water followed by mini ice cubes, accompanied by tidbits.
The tidbits or side dishes, are, luk kapi (deep-fried fermented shrimp paste balls), hom daeng yud sai (deep-fried shallots stuffed with minced fish), prik yuak sord sai (banana chili pepper stuffed with minced pork wrapped in egg netting), moo foi (shredded sweet pork), chai pow phad wan (stir-fried sweet dry turnip with egg) and carved vegetables (usually consist of green mango, cucumber, krachai, red chili and green onion).
To ensure our palate enjoys the most pleasure from the jasmine-scented khao-chae and tidbits, we eat the rice and the tidbits separately, one at a time. Never put the tidbits in the rice and water as it will cloud the scented water.
Khao-chae is another original delicacy from Thailand, it is unique and it is chic. Summer time is coming, my favorite khao-chae treat is here, though Kalpapruek is not my favorite choice.
at Kalpapruek Restaurant ***
7/F Central World Plaza
4 Rajdamri Road
Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Open daily : 10 am - 10 pm
Pay (khao-chae only for tw0): around THB 650 (THB 290+ per set)
* khao-chae is available from mid-March until end of April