Deep fried Grey Mullet with turmeric and garlic
15g Turmeric with skin
25 g Thai garlic with skin
1 t Bk Peppercorn
1 t salt
Kite flying on Colombo ‘front beach’
Yep, it’s that green and it smells bad
These two came up to me and asked for a photo…
Colombo front beach, where lovers go….
These images are thumbnails and poor quality. Please remember to click on the image for a full resolution copy.
End of Ramadan and they’re cooking up a storm.. The nose to tail eating doesn’t seem so inviting (or the lack of refrigeration).
Local market in Siem Reap. Sorry about the noise, this was shot @ISO1600 F5.6 1/50
I love everything that’s going on in this shot, the quality’s not great but the ‘high quality’ jewelry in the background mixed in the hair dresser.
Taking a break before sweeping the streets. These girls move the dust around on the streets. I don’t really know if they need so many of them but they are everywhere sweeping the occasional piece of rubbish but mainly dust.
Getting stuff around on the only mode of transport you have….
More of the moving stuff around but a more precious cargo
This guy was on the side of the road selling door handles. Nice jeans!!
Two lads selling
Shoes fixed while you wait
Even though the trip is at a leisurely pace the drive from Cienfuegos to Havana is a welcome opportunity to catch up on reading, have a sleep or just compare notes on how the opening up of the US borders is going to affect the tourist industry in Cuba. En route there are opportunities to stop, stretch your legs and buy drinks or snacks. The stop to see the Che Guevara mausoleum in Santa Clara is a great break and, with the DVD on his history in the coach before arriving, is interesting. Don’t try to go out the in-doors however as you will hear “Hola” and “tutt tutt’.
Back in Havana for one more sprint around and take some photos…..
Bronze statue celebrating an old nutter (José María López Lledín) that used to prance around town acting like he owns the place. Rubbing his beard and finger are now supposed to bring good luck. And for you, if you click on the picture you will get 10 years good luck 😉
Frederico Chopin killing time in Havana in Plaza San Francisco
Careful sending letters in Cuba, they make take your arm off!!
If you’re here for long enough you’ll need to learn Sala, there’s plenty of options for getting lessons (a bottle of rum at AUS$4 may be the cheapest)
Kicking back waiting for the tourists. The locals wait for the tourists to arrive to sell them posters, hand drawn pictures of yourself, books or anything else you can put on a small upright stand.
Local options for getting food in Havana are limited and there are a few little shops selling what, in the West, would probably be considered high quality organic foods. Refrigeration doesn’t appear to be up to western standards though.
Cienfuegos is a total surprise, the architecture is of obvious French (complete with the one third size ‘Arc de Triomphe’ in the main square) and Moroccan persuasion. You could easily feel that you were taken back to Morocco in the 1950s with the bustling pedestrian street full of people shopping and not a mobile phone to be seen (nearly). The hotel here was the first outside of Havana to offer Internet. This was presented in the form of 4 PCs that were connected to the Internet, Wi-Fi was not available. If you do get a decide to go back into town from the hotel go into the Coppelia ice cream examine the board outside to select what type of ice cream you want and go inside and wait at a table to order (don’t expect all the flavours, everything in Cuba is ‘it should be’ but the facts are sometimes different). It’s hot and packed, the staff take a while to get to you but it’s worth the experience. Drinks and dinner at the mansion next to the hotel was a highlight with amazing sounds coming from the band and a beautiful sea breeze.
Click on image for a full resolution version (much better colour and clarity)
In spite of the map showing a circular route the route for this days takes you back past Havana on a ring road. Lunch was served in a roadside hamlet of houses where the locals were gambling on a dice game on the road and not so keen to have their photos taken with money, although once it was hidden they were fine. Lunch was great with banana chips, lamb that fell off the bone, corn mash, fish, and vegetables. Once you have arrived in Trinidad you have a quick city tour to introduce you to the main sights and then off to dinner at any of the well-kept restaurants.
Staying in Trinidad is like being immersed in local day to day life. The accommodation was similar to staying in a ryad in Marrakech with the front door hiding an immaculately kept living room that goes through to a courtyard and stairs to the rooms. This is a free day and there is plenty to do, we hired a bike for 4CUC/day and road the 9km to the Parque el Cubano falls. The walk to the falls takes about 45 minutes, once you are there you swim, discover the bats in the cave behind the falls or just relax on the rocks.
The walking tour of the old Havana with a local guide introduces you to the history of Cuba from the Communist perspective. We were introduced to what it was like to grow up in Cuba how the local and tourist currencies work and a great deal of history that you can’t find on Google. Lunch on the drive to Soroa was taken at a local roadside café that was teaming with locals, it involved extremely tasty lamb, pork and fish dishes that put the perception that the food in Cuba would not be great to bed. The drive along the highway supplied plenty of opportunity to ask the guide questions about the people waiting under the bridges to partake in the Government regulated ‘hitchhiking’ (money changes hands) and the bridge that go nowhere (every few kilometres there was a bridge, some with no access ramps that were built with the highway planning for potential link roads).
Vinales is a pretty village with brightly coloured homes from end to end. The main street has a plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars to keep you busy morning, noon and night with live music in the evening in a club at the back of the main square. No trip to Cuba would be complete without a visit to a tobacco farm, seeing a cigar being hand rolled and, if it takes your fancy, having a puff you experience all of this in the hike around the valley views (take some water and reasonable shoes). After the walking tour of the valley there is heaps of free time to wander around the town.
Click on image for a full resolution copy (approx 12Mb)
The first day of the tours involved arriving at Jose Marti International Airport and negotiating your way through the line of locals bringing TV’s, air conditioners, car parts and clothes through customs to declare and pay their tax. Once we found the guide we were taken through the beautiful down town Havana with its eclectic architecture from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s to the grand Hotel National. If you want to do any tours you need to arrive at least a day earlier as the welcome meeting is at 6 but can take some time to get the group full assembled. Most mobile phones don’t work in Cuba, should you want to use a mobile phone there is a kiosk available that sells SIMs (cash only) on the right as you exit the airport concourse. The Internet is available for purchase in the hotel (the last time you will see it for a few days) on the first floor. Only one person in our group thought to go and look for the welcome message at the tour group desk which was located opposite check-in, make sure you look at this to get the information on what is happening for the welcome meeting.
Last day in Colombo and I went looking for some tourist tatt… This lady appeared to be a beggar but insisted I take her photo (well at least that’s what I think she wanted). She has to be the best dressed beggar I have ever seen.
Crossing the road in Colombo is a little bit of an art. This bloke had it down pat.
While his mate waits for a bus
This was an amazing temple, download the full res image, you can see all the ornate ceramics that makes up all the colour
Our walk to work involved going down a great little road that had heaps of characters on it. I’d love to have more time and us a bit of flash with a higher shutter speed. These are the shots from the walk to work.
I was up at 6am to go down the road and try to get some shots of the fishermen I had seen with big catches the day before. Clearly they only work every other day because there wasn’t too much going on when I was down there today…. Here are the shots that I managed to get today…
Out rigger with a 1 person powered motor. Seems like a really hard way to earn a living.
Crows waiting for the opportunity to get a free feed from the off cuts from today’s catch.
Clearly you can get a feed as a fisherman 😉
This lady wanted me to take her photo. I have given her the card for the website but the wide angle lens isn’t really the most appropriate from portrait .
Busy public transport system
I have been talking about this for the whole time I was in Thailand and I have finally managed to make it ‘work’… Here is the deal:
I wanted a double choc shell with the out shell being a dark chocolate, then a mango purée surprise, another chocolate shell and then sweet coconut sticky rice. The problem was making the chocolate shells. I have managed to make it work using a silicone cup cake mould. I haven’t nailed it yet but check out the video of the first attempt. I used very sweet coconut milk as the surprise and coconut praline to top the chocolate. I need to sort out how to make the moulds reliably and how to seal the lot once it is full.
Here is the video of opening up the chocolate http://youtu.be/trOZ4HEWguA
Chatuchak Weekend Market (JJ Market)
I incorrectly described this market to someone recently as Bangkok’s ‘Vic Market’. I couldn’t have been anymore wrong. This market is a thriving amalgamation of cool, food, tourists and locals all looking for something special that, if you have a lot of time to look, you will probably find.
The market is tucked away at the end of the tube line but is easy to get to and has plenty of options as far as stations are concerned. I exited at Kamphaeng Phet station because I knew over the road there was a local food only market that I wanted to investigate (Or Tor Kor market which is an extremely clean market across the road but that’s for another post). The market appears to, at first glance (and due to most of the stalls out side) to be full of rubbish but spend a little more time and you find quite the opposite. The market is broken up into 6 sections; Antiques, Handicrafts & Souvenirs ; Clothing & Accessories; Eating & Drinking; Housewares & Decor; Pets; and Plants & Gardening. in each of these sections there’s something cool to check out. It’s crammed into little corridors so nearly impossible to photograph but if you’re only in Bangkok for a short time I would recommend checking this out (and don’t miss the market across the road).
Then there is the cool clothing…..
I would love to spend a couple of weekends here going from stall to stall to stall and picking up little designer wears that are small runs made by people who care (not knockoff crap that they want to get rid of ASAP before the shape changes in the humidity).
Duck hair flower salad
|1/2 Cup||Chicken stock|
|3||Prawns, shelled, depooed and boiled to pink|
|100g||Duck Hair Flower (Stamen [bit in the middle with the pollen] removed)|
|2||Red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped|
|1/4||Red onion, finely chopped|
|1||Spring onion, finely chopped|
|1 1/2 Tab||Fish sauce|
|1 1/2 Tab||Sugar syrup|
|1||Garlic clove, finely chopped|
- Pound the bird chillies to a rough paste. Put to one side
- Boil pork in a pot with chicken stock until pork is cooked. Put to one side
- Prepare a bowl of ice water.
- Boil a pot of water and place duck hair flowers in the pot for 30 seconds. Remove and put in ice water. Allow to remain in ice water
- Put chillies, garlic, red onion, lime juice, and spring onion in a bowl and combine. Put to one side
- Put the duck hair flowers on a plate then the pork on top. Pour over the chilli sauce, fish sauce and sugar syrup. Place prawns on top and serve
Squeeze lime juice
Add chopped spring onion
Mix with the boiled pork over the flowers.
Por dressingsand garnish with coriander and shallots sprinkle 1 t dry shrimp
Sweet dark noodles
|1||Garlic, clove, crushed|
|15g||Pork fat (can substitute with fatty bacon)|
|2g||Black peppercorn, roughly crushed|
|1 Tsp||Chinese spice (pick khom)|
|4||Prawn, shelled and depooed|
|70g||Glass noodle soaked in water and drained|
|1 Tab||Soy Sauce|
|1 Tab||Oyster Sauce|
|1/2 Tab||Sesame oil|
|1/2 Tsp||White sugar|
|1/2 Tsp||Sweet dark soy sauce|
|1/2 Cup||Chicken stock|
- In a bowl combine the Stock, dark soy, soy, sugar, oyster and sesame oil. Mix to attempt to dissolve the sugar
- In a pot place the pork fat on the bottom and then place the (in order) ginger, coriander root, spring onion, garlic, pepper, Chinese spice, noodles and prawns
- Pour sauce from the bowl across the contents of the pot and put pot on low heat. Wait for the sauce to start to boil, wait 2 minutes, drain and pour over the ingredients once again. Repeat the boil/2 minute wait/drain/pour step until there is very little liquid remaining. Serve
Steamed Chinese squash soup with chicken
|4 Cups||Chicken stock|
|1||Chicken thigh, free range, cut in half|
|1 Tab||Soy sauce|
- In a pot with boiling water add chicken and boil until there is no ‘red’ showing (not completely cooked, just the outside). Empty pot and put to one side
- In a bowl add mushrooms, garlic and squash and pickled lime, chicken and chicken stock
- Put bowl in a steamer and steam for 2 hrs on medium heat
- Remove lime before serving
I broke my own rule with this one. This guy was amazing so I am including a few photos of the tricks he was doing to mix the tea with the sweetened condensed milk and sugar. I am linking this on into the JJ Market post because this is where it belongs.
As the Thai cooking extravaganza draws to a close, I have 5 more recipes to prepare. No longer to I have to ‘fix’ my curries, the chef just looks at me, I quiver and he says ‘OK’ and moves on. I think I’ve done OK, I only hope that I can replicate what has become second nature back in Australia… Anyway enough sobbing in my beer, I still have to not chop off my fingers tomorrow. As far as today’s recipes go I really like the soup, it needs the plums but don’t do what I did and eat them (they won’t kill you but I really didn’t like them). The chicken is a great crowd pleaser without too much work and the pork curry was great. By virtue that I have included today’s dessert must give you some indication of my feeling towards it, I will certainly be including it in my repertoire. Enjoy today’s recipes, from tomorrow it’ll be lots of photos of people doing their stuff and probably a heap of occupational health and safety stuff.
‘Frost on the field’ (Thai dessert)
|750g||Coconut juice (water is not available)|
|13g||Agar agar or gelatine|
|50g||Green water (can be made with padanus leaves as in previous recipes)|
- Mix together coconut juice, white sugar, agar agar and salt in a pot
- on a high heat bring the pot to the boil and add the green water, coconut meat and slowly add the coconut cream
- Put in the fridge for 1 hour to set. Serve upside down with the white at the top and the green jelly at the bottom
Southern style pork rib stir fry
|4g||Kaffir lime skin|
|20g||Bird’s eye chillies|
|5g||White pepper corns|
|1 Cup||Pork ribs, deboned|
|1 Tsp||Young pepper corns|
|3||Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced|
|1/3 Cup||Paste (above)|
|1 Tab||Vegetable oil|
|1 Cup||Chicken Stock|
|1/2 Tab||Fish sauce|
|1 Tsp||White sugar|
- On a low heat heat the oil in a wok and add paste. Keep moving to prevent sticking. Cook until fragrant
- Add the pork to the wok and heat until cooked. If mix starts to stick add a little stock
- Add fish sauce, stock and sugar. Boil until the mix dries out
- Add pepper corns and kaffir lime leaves and serve
Sweet and sour fish soup with Chinese plum
|3||Pickled Chinese plums|
|20g||Red onion, finely chopped|
|10g||Garlic, finely chopped|
|10g||Ginger, peeled and finely chopped|
|8g||Red spur chilli, coursley chopped|
|8g||Spring onion, cut into 3cm lengths|
|1/2 Tab||Soy bean paste|
|4 Cups||Chicken stock|
|1 Tsp||White sugar|
|1 Tab||Tamarind juice|
- In a pot on a high heat add stock, plum, garlic, onion, mushrooms, ginger and salt. Heat until boiling
- Turn heat down to medium and add fish and soy bean paste and heat for 3 minutes
- Add tamarind juice and chillies. Taste and adjust. Heat for 3 minutes
- Add spring onion and turn off heat. Serve
Chicken in a padanus blanket
|Chicken thighs, deboned, skin on and cut into thirds|
|20g||Sweet dark soy sauce|
|20g||Thai seasoning sauce (Maggi sauce)|
|20g||Chinese style sour sauce (cheap balsamic vinegar)|
|20g||Thai chilli sauce|
|1 Tab||Corn flour|
|1 1/2 Tab||Garlic, finely chopped|
|1 Tsp||White pepper corns|
|1 Tsp||Coriander root, finely chopped|
|30g||Ginger, crushed but whole|
|40g||Sweet dark soy sauce|
|20g||Chinese style sour sauce (cheap balsamic vinegar)|
|30g||Thai chilli sauce|
|30g||Thai seasoning sauce (Maggi sauce)|
- For the marinade pound the garlic, pepper corns and coriander root in a mortar until it is a paste
- Add the paste to a bowl and combine the remaining marinade ingredients in the bowl. Put chick in the bowl and put to one side (fridge) for 1 – 3 hours
- In a pot put all of the dipping sauce ingredients and heat on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Put to one side
- Once marinaded put the chicken in a steamer with the marinade for 20 minutes
- Remove from the steamer and cool to allow handling
- Once cooled wrap in a padanus leaf and deep fry
- Remove from the fryer once the chicken is a dark brown and serve with the dipping sauce
Today …. ‘easy’… Crepes and fish….. The crepes have a heap of steps but really it’s worth it, they are crispy and delicious. Here the street vendors have stopped selling them because the are too many steps and, at 400b ($3.30) they are too expensive.
|1 Tsp||Black pepper corns|
|15g||Garlic, finely chopped|
|2||Coriander roots, finely chopped|
|1 Tab||Fish sauce|
|1/2 Tab||Palm sugar|
|1 1/2 Tab||White sugar|
|100g||Prawns, finely chopped|
|20g||Shredded coconut meat|
|6||Kaffir lime leaves, very finely chopped|
|1 Tab||Shrimp oil|
|1 Tab||Vegetable oil|
|30g||Sweet pickled radish|
|1||Spring onion, finely chopped|
|1/2 Tab||Ground roast peanuts|
|1/2 Cup||Rice vinegar|
|1/2 Cup||White sugar|
|1/4||red onion, finely chopped|
|1/4||Red spur chilli, roughly chopped|
|1 Cup||Rice flour|
|1/2 Cup||Lime stone water|
|3/4 Cup||Coconut cream|
|1 Tsp||Palm sugar|
|1/2 Tsp||Tumeric powder|
- In a mortar pound black pepper corns to a powder
- Add garlic and coriander root and pound to a paste. Put to one side
- On a large chopping board place shredded coconut meal and prawns
- With a knife chop the prawns and coconut meat by shopping the mix and, as it spreads out folding the edges in to the centre. Continue until the mix is very well mixed (image here)
- On a high heat put prawn/coconut meat in a wok with shrimp oil, fish sauce, palm sugar, white sugar, salt and white pepper. Constantly keep moving until the mix is fragrant and brown.
- Add kaffir lime leaves and heat briefly. Turn off heat and put to one side
- In a wok on a high heat add vegetable oil and add tofu. Cook until tofu is browned
- Add bean sprouts, radish and paste (above). Quickly combine all ingredients and turn off heat. Put to one side
- In a pot on a medium heat put rice vinegar, white sugar and 1 tsp salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved and out to one side
- Once vinegar/salt/sugar is cool put in a small bowl with red onion and red spur chilli. Put to one side
- To create the crepes; In a bowl whisk rice flour, egg yolk and slowly add lime stone water
- Combine coconut cream and water in a jug
- Slowly whisk in coconut cream/water into the crepe mix in the bowl
- Add palm sugar, tumeric powder and salt and whisk until palm sugar is dissolved. Put to one side
- Heat a wok on a high heat. Oil wok with 1 tab of vegetable, spread oil over the entire surface and remove any excess oil with kitchen paper
- Pour 1/2 cup of crepe mix into wok while turning wok to distribute mix over the surface making a thin coating across the surface without any gaps
- Once the edges start to display bubbles use a scrapper to separate them from the wok
- Pour a little vegetable oil into the edges Video here
- Cook until the crepe starts to brown, put tofu mix, and prawn mix across the centre of the crepe and serve