January Focus: Health Conscious Options
Being rich in vitamins and minerals, the nutritional aspects of Thai food are sometimes overlooked, but the fact is, it is one of the most nutritious cuisines in the world. There are health benefits from the ingredients used and also the methods in which they are prepared. There is substantial use of plants, leaves and vegetables, along with many herbs and spices used to create the distinctive flavours that are quintessentially Thai.

For our January Focus, Feast Thailand Food Tours would like to focus on the healthiest of the healthy dishes, as there are some that are more healthy than others.

Chim Chum (จิ้มจุ่ม)
Literally dip and drop in Thai. Chim means to dip in, while chum means to drop something briefly into liquid

Chim Chum, or Jim Jum, is a popular Thai street food, believed to have originated in Laos or Cambodia. It is traditionally made with chicken or pork and fresh herbs such as galangal, sweet basil, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, cooked in a small clay pot over charcoal.

The clay pot is brought to the table filled with broth. When the broth is boiling, you add the vegetables, meat, herbs and possibly even noodles. Remove elements as they are done and place in your bowl. Top with some of the broth for a healthy soup, or just dip the meats into a Nam Jim dipping sauce.

It really doesn't get any simpler or healthier!

Moo Graathaa (หมูกระทะ)
Moo Graathaa literally means 'pan pork' in Thai. It resembles a combination of a Korean barbecue and a Chinese hot pot. Believed to have originated from the Korean barbecue grill, which uses a gas stove, the Thai version is heated over charcoal. The dining concept spread has throughout Thailand and into Malaysia and Singapore.

Sliced meats (most often pork) are grilled on the dome in the centre of the Graathaa while the vegetables, herbs and other ingredients cook in the soup. Nowadays, other proteins like beef, fish, prawns and squid are also grilled.

The hot pot sits on a trough burning charcoal which grills or steams the ingredients. Often, spicy dipping sauces like Nam Jim Seafood are served to dip the meats into. A small bowl is also served so as to have your own small soup with whatever meats, herbs and vegetables are cooking. A few pieces of meat, fish, prawns or squid, some vegetables and herbs and a few ladles of broth and you have a delicious

Yam Kor Moo Yang (ยำคอหมูย่าง)
Kor Moo Yang is grilled, marinated pork neck and this salad is succulent and healthy. The neck is one of the cuts of pork having the right combination of muscle, lean meat and fat. It is an extremely popular cut in Thailand.

To make up this salad you have all the usual culprits of a traditional Thai Yam, which means mix in Thai; there's lettuce, shallots or red onions, spring onions, tomatoes, Chinese celery, herbs like coriander and mint as well as a standard dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, fresh chilli and a pinch of sugar. The dressing should be hot, salty, sweet and sour; a standard balance in a Thai dressing.

A Yam is one of the 4 main salad types in Thailand; the other 3 being Tam, Laab and Phla. We will deal with the other 2 at another time, but our recipe of the month for January is Laab Gai. It is a spicy minced chicken salad with onions and herbs. The difference with a laab is the dressing uses roasted, dry red chillies instead of fresh and also the addition of Khao Khua (ข้าวคั่ว), roasted sticky rice. This is ground coarsely and added to give some texture but also a wonderful nuttiness.