Thai-sausage_How-to-enjoy-Sai-Ua

Thai Sausage: grilled northern Isaan & Sai Ua sausages

Thai sausage is one of our favorite Thai dishes. If you are a fan of western sausages then you may want to give Thai sausages a try. The taste and texture of these sausages are unique. They are traditionally home industry and there are a few special regions in Thailand famous for them. Previously we have covered our other favorite Thai dishes: Tom Yum noodles, Som Tum, and Boat Noodles. Now we will cover Northern Thai sausage in this article.

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Isaan sausage vs. Sai Ua sausage

thai sausage_issan vs sai ua

There are two types of Northern style traditional Thai grilled sausage that is famous across the country.

First, Isaan sausage aka Sai Krok Isaan is one of the most famous foods from the Isaan region (North-Eastern part of Thailand). Other than the sausage, this region also prides itself on Som Tum, sticky rice, and Jim Jum hotpot. This Thai sausage is a fermented sausage, made primarily of pork and rice. Since it undergoes fermentation, it is no surprise that it tastes a bit sour. Sai Krok Isaan sausage normally goes really well with raw cabbage, sliced raw ginger and chilli padi / bird’s eye chilli. Having said that, you can enjoy this sausage as a snack, or as a full dish with sticky rice to go with the sausage. Isaan-style sausage is popular among the Thai population and you will find this Northern style traditional Thai grilled sausage being grilled and sold along the streets all across Thailand.

On the other hand, Sai Ua sausage which is the native sausage of Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand is a more herby, richer in spices kind of sausage. It is one of the most flavourful Thai sausages out there. The pork is mixed with aromatic curry mix and then grilled. You can enjoy this Thai sausage with sticky rice, fresh vegetables, crispy pork, or chili paste. Traditionally it is homemade food, but as it grows in popularity across Thailand, it is available in shops as well.

Thai sausage recipe: Isaan style

Isaan-style sausage is made from two primary ingredients, pork, and rice. However, these are mixed with garlic, salt, and pepper before fermentation. For every 500g of pork, you will need ¾ cup of rice, 1 head of garlic, and seasonings such as pepper, salt, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. In some variations, Isaan-style sausage also has glass noodles in the mix (which then you can reduce the amount of rice).

As we mentioned previously, Isaan-style sausage is a fermented type, and the duration of fermentation determines the level of sourness. For example, if you grill the sausage immediately after they are made, there will not be any sour taste but if you leave them to ferment for a few days then you can expect your traditional Thai grilled sausage will be sour.

Thai sausage recipe: Sai Ua style

Sai Ua is a more complicated sausage when compared to Isaan sausages. While Sai Ua is made mostly from pork, making one will require many more ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, coriander, lemongrass, shallots, spring onion, fresh turmeric, dried chili, garlic, and other seasonings such as soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce. 

While Sai Ua is popular and is preferred outside of its home region like Northern Thailand – great-tasting Sai Ua is relatively harder to find than Isaan sausage due to more complicated recipes. 

How to enjoy Thai sausages

Thai-sausage_How-to-enjoy-Sai-Ua

Both types of Northern style Thai grilled sausages such as Issan sausage and Sai Ua taste great by themselves, however, due to their strong taste – pairing them with some fresh vegetables, relish or sticky rice can help to elevate the taste.

Isaan-style sausages taste great with raw cabbage, fresh ginger, and fresh chili to add some spiciness. Sai Ua on the other hand which has a stronger spicy taste goes well with fresh green vegetables/corianders, ginger, chili, and peanuts.

Some Thais also pair Sai Ua with crispy pork and a special Northern chili paste called “nam prik num”.

Should you try Northern Thai sausages?

Yes, Northern Thai sausages are one of our favorite snacks/dishes! We generally love the spicy/herby Northern Thai food. Eating these sausages accompanied by vegetables/rice on the side seems like a simple dish, however, due to the richness in flavor and taste, it is very satisfying. We highly recommend you to try these sausages out the next time you visit Thailand!

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Thai Constellation Monstera

Thai Constellation Monstera: Price and Variant Comparison

Home gardening has been booming since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Reuters reported a 270% jump in seed demand at the peak of the pandemic. But what we found even more intriguing is news like a pot of plant being sold for THB1.4m (~US$42,000) in Thailand. Such a staggering amount is sufficient to purchase a car or to use as a down payment for a house! We are not plant or garden experts but learn more about what makes the Thai Constellation Monstera special with us! We will also cover the its price, along with other variations for monstera.

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About This Popular Plant

Thai Constellation Monstera

The Thai Constellation Monstera is a plant from the monstera deliciosa family. It is well known for its large, green marbled leaves with cream/yellow color spread. The plant can grow both outdoors or indoors as a houseplant or natural decoration to your home. This plant can grow to 1 or several meters high under optimal conditions. Keep in mind this possibility if you are looking to keep it indoors. The feature that makes this plant unique is the cream/yellow spread across its marbled green leaves. This sets the Thai Constellation Monstera apart from its peers like Monstera Albo, Aurea, or Mint.

Thai Constellation Monstera vs. Monstera Albo

Monstera Albo draws its name from albo, which means white in latin. As the name suggests, Monstera Albo has white color contrast to the marbled green leaves. The white/green pattern can appear in half-and-half proportion or spread throughout the leaves. One key difference between the Thai Constellation Monstera and albo would be the Thai constellation’s creamy yellow color and Albo white color. The half and half patterns are also not commonly found in the former.

Thai Constellation Monstera vs. Monstera Mint

Thai Constellation Monstera vs Mint

Monstera Mint is a rare find among monstera. Its unique feature is represented as a mixture between green, yellow and white colors that result in light green color leaves. Leaf pattern and color of Monstera Mint tend to be unique, even on the same tree/plant. Due to its rarity, Monstera Mint is the most expensive monstera within our comparisons. 

Cost: Thai Constellation Monstera price

In Thailand, the starting price for this plant starts at around ~THB4,000 (US$120). This seemingly affordable starting price can scale up really quickly depending on the color and spread patterns. In comparison, the starting price for Monstera Albo is around ~THB8,000 – double of Thai Constellation Monstera. Lastly, our most expensive monstera is Monstera Mint, which is hard to find. Due to its rarity, it has a starting price at around THB500,000 (US$15,000). Some vendors will scale their price up depending on the number of leaves with unique color/pattern. In the news that we cited above, the Monstera Mint plant was sold at a staggering price of US$42,000!

Should you get one for your home or garden?

Gardening is a relaxing hobby and monstera is a gorgeous-looking plant that can decorate your home really nicely. Hopefully, now you understand better about Thai Constellation Monstera price, the comparison with Monstera Albo and Monstera Mint – in case you want to purchase one for your house.

We got to see some friends with green thumbs who have monstera in their house, and these plants are indeed a nice addition to the house decor. However, since collecting rare monstera may be expensive, you can opt to grow any monstera plant or more practical plants. Personally, at this point in our lives where we value practicality the most, we opt to grow Thai herbs like basil which also comes in handy in the kitchen. 

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Boat noodles: Recipes & the right way to order boat noodles

We briefly mentioned boat noodles in our article about Ayutthaya restaurant scenes previously. If you’ve read that article, you should know that they are one of the most famous dishes in Ayutthaya. But there is a lot more to this noodle with dark color soup that you can find across Thailand. We previously covered another popular noodle dish in Thailand, Tom Yum noodles. So, what is a Thai boat noodle, and how to order boat noodles so that you can enjoy a boat noodle meal? Find out more in this article!

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What is Thai boat noodles?

Just like many other noodles, a boat noodle is a hot soup noodle that comprises noodles, broth, meat/meatball, and vegetables. However, what sets this noodle apart is their dark color soup made from herbal ingredients and pig blood. We will cover more on the soup in the following section. 

Another unique characteristic of this noodle is the way each bowl is served to you. They typically come in small bowls, some are very small that it costs THB15 but you may need to eat up to 4-6 of those to be full! 

The good thing about a small bowl format is that you can make each bowl different or adjust the number of bowls so that you do not under/over-eat! We will cover more about how to order at a boat noodle restaurant later on.

Lastly, a boat noodle meal is not complete without fresh vegetables and herbs like bean sprouts and holy basil leaves. Also, crispy pork/pork skin is an excellent topping for boat noodles. You can end your meal with some Thai coconut desserts.

Thai boat noodle

Boat noodles: Ingredients and recipes

While we have had endless bowls of boat noodles, we do not claim to be an expert in the kitchen. Therefore, we will be referring to a recipe from Wongnai for this section. This ingredient list is for boat noodles, but to be more specific, it is for “nam tok” boat noodles, which is the thick, dark soup type commonly found in boat noodle restaurants. 

Boat noodle soup is full of herbs and spices like cinnamon, star anise, cumin, coriander seeds, and pandan leaves. In fact, these herbs and spices are key to bringing out fragrance in the soup. So what makes the soup dark and slightly thick? The secret lies in remaining ingredients such as fermented garlic, fermented bean curd, and dark soy sauce. If pig blood is something that you do not wish to have, you can also request the vendor to exclude this from your soup. This should be doable as vendors normally add this ingredient after they make the main soup. 

We cannot close this section off without mentioning a special kind of vinegar that customers can opt to put into their boat noodles. This vinegar is made by combining vinegar with roasted chili giving it a nice fragrance, and spicy & sour taste. 

Original boat noodles in Thailand

Why is this type of noodle called boat noodle? Boat noodle draws its name from a traditional practice where noodle vendors travel along canals and rivers to serve their customers. This is the reason why you will find some boat noodle restaurant formats using the boat in their concept:

1) Having a symbolic boat inside the restaurant, typically in front of the kitchen area

2) Selling boat noodles in a boat inside floating markets. If you visit any floating market in Thailand, you are most likely going to see small boats sailing around selling noodles!

3) Put their boat noodle restaurant on a large boat where you can order and have your meal inside the boat itself! This restaurant format is common north of Bangkok around Rangsit area

How to order boat noodles

Boat noodle is highly customizable, you can specify what kind of ingredients you want to have based on some options available.

A few essential components that you can customize include:

  • Noodle type: thick/thin noodle, vermicelli, egg noodle, or even instant noodle
  • Meat type: fresh pork/beef, braised pork/beef, meatballs, pork liver
  • Soup vs. dry

Other customizations are also possible but not very common

  • Vegetables: you will typically find morning glory, bean sprout or kale (although uncommon), if these are not to your liking, you can ask for exclusion
  • Soup: As we mentioned previously, the thick dark soup or “nam tok” boat noodle contains pig blood, you can ask for this to be excluded

Optional add-ons in your boat noodle meal include the crispy pork skin, this is highly recommended! Another must-have toppings would be fresh holy basil leaves and bean sprouts. All of these will add interesting texture and taste to your noodles. Lastly, if dessert is your thing then finish your meal off with coconut desserts!

Should you try this dish?

Definitely! Boat noodle is a popular Thai dish. How many bowls should you have? Many! Just have as many as you need to make yourself full. Understanding how to order boat noodles will help you to customize yours according to your wishes.

You can enjoy original boat noodles in Bangkok or if you are going to Ayutthaya, you can also try boat noodles there. Ayutthaya is a place surrounded by water, so naturally, there are a lot of Thai boat noodle shops around. To try Thai boat noodles, you don’t need to go to the floating markets as there are a lot of vendors inland as well. 

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Mookata_Thai BBQ

Mookata: Thai BBQ and Hotpot in restaurant/buffet/at home

When you think of BBQ in Asia, you probably think about Korean BBQ or Japanese yakiniku/yakitori. What you may not know is that, Thailand also has a wide range of Thai BBQ dishes and one of the most popular ones is Mookata. This dish popularity is so widespread that it is a cuisine on its own. But what is this dish about? Previously, we have covered other Thai dishes like Thai BBQ pork and chicken and Jim Jum hotpot, now it’s time for you to learn more about Mookata with us!

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What is Mookata?

What is Mookata

“Moo” means pork in Thai and “kata” means pan. You can tell from the name “Mookata” that this dish involves grilling pork on a pan. In simple terms, Mookata is a BBQ meal where you can grill fresh meat on a hot pan just like Korean BBQ or Japanese yakiniku. However, this dish goes beyond that by also providing a section with hot soup for you to boil vegetables. The part with boiling soup is similar to what you have in a regular hotpot. 

Traditionally, the pan used for this BBQ dish would have an elevated grilling section in the middle. Then, the lower surrounding section would be filled with soup for boiling meat/vegetables. While the name Mookata might suggest that it involves grilling pork, you can grill a limitless variety of meat and seafood including pork, chicken, beef, squid, prawn, etc. The meal also often involves fresh vegetables and noodles!

Apart from the grill/boil combination, the sauce for Mookata is also unique which makes this dish truly a Thai BBQ cuisine. This dish can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. In fact, an outdoor Mookata meal with a great view and nice breeze would make the meal a lot more enjoyable.

Sauces to enhance the experience

Thais love sauces, and you would often find multiple types of sauce in a Mookata meal. 

“Sukiyaki” sauce

This might be a bit confusing to those who are familiar with international cuisine since Thai sukiyaki sauce has nothing to do with the Japanese one. This red sauce is often served in hotpot meals. In fact, it was popularized by Thailand’s largest hot pot chain, MK restaurant. However, Thais found out that this sauce when combined with lime, raw garlic, and chili also goes surprisingly well with grilled meat. That explains why you will find such sauce at every Mookata meal (also because boiled vegetables can be found in Mookata meals as well).

Nam Jim Jaew 

This staple North-eastern Thailand sauce adds spicy and sour taste to every meal, Mookata included. We have a dedicated article to talk about Nam Jim Jaew in case you want to learn more about this Thai seafood dipping sauce. This sauce is made from lime, fish sauce, garlic, and chili which traditionally goes well with seafood. It is a very versatile sauce and it is just as great when served in a Mookata meal. 

Thai seafood dipping sauce

This is a Thai sauce made from lime, fish sauce, garlic and chili that you will find with most seafood dishes in Thailand – however, this sauce is just as great with when served in Mookata as well.

Mookata buffet

One of the most common formats of Mookata in Thailand is the Mookata buffet. It is available in a la carte format as well, however, they tend to be on the premium side.

In such a buffet, every table will be equipped with a Mookata pan. Then diners can self-service themselves with unlimited fresh ingredients such as meat, seafood, vegetables, and noodles. You can also mix and match your own sauces, and spice them with lime, chili, or garlic to your liking.

A Mookata buffet meal in Thailand can be as cheap as THB 200-300 per head. However, it can also go up to THB600 – THB800 for more premium settings/ingredients.

Mookata delivery

When we mentioned Mookata’s popularity in Thailand, we were not joking. Thais eat out when they want to have this BBQ dish, but they can also make it at home or order delivery. There are many ways to do this

1) Many Thai households own an electric pan for Mookata (we own one as well). You can then easily make the meal at home yourself or order from a restaurant with a delivery service. 

2) You order a complete set and kit from a restaurant. In this format, a restaurant would lend you their pot/pan for the day, then come pick it up at night/the next day (along with the ingredients, sauces etc.).

Many families prefer to make their Mookata meal at home or order for delivery. This is because this way they can supplement ingredients/sauces on their own which tend to be cheaper overall!

Mookata_Mookata delivery

Is this 2-in-1 grill and boil dish worth-trying?

Mookata is a famous Thai dish, popular both in Thailand and overseas. We know for sure that Mookata is very popular in neighboring Asian countries like Singapore as well (you can find a lot in the Golden Mile complex in Singapore!). To fully immerse in Thai cuisine culture, you should definitely try this dish to understand why it’s so popular! For the most authentic experience, try it when you are in Thailand.

We love Mookata because it offers both grilling and boiling of meat and vegetables. If you are eating with a group and some love boiled food and the others love grilled food, this dish offers a perfect balance of both types!

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Nam jim jaew_featured

Nam Jim Jaew: the delicious Thai dipping sauce & recipe

Nam Jim Jaew (or “Jaew”) is a spicy & sour Thai dipping sauce that you often find in Thailand or Thai restaurants. You commonly see it served with Thai BBQ, Thai Jim Jum hotpot or Som Tum meal.  We have covered these dishes in our other articles. 

Jaew sauce has a complex taste and fragrance. Learn more about this Thai dipping sauce including its application and how to make one at home here!

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Nam Jim Jaew dipping sauce: the popular local dipping sauce

“Nam Jim” simply means dipping sauce in Thai. So as the name implies, Nam Jim Jaew is a dipping sauce with spicy & sour taste which is originated from North-eastern part of Thailand (Issan region).

What can you dip into the Jaew sauce?

  • Thai BBQ: whether it is grilled pork, chicken or beef, these generally taste great with Jaew sauce (Including in Mookata meal)
  • Meat from Jim Jum or Thai hotpot: Jaew sauce is also commonly served in a Thai hotpot meal. You can dip cooked meat like pork from the hotpot into Jaew sauce before consumption

As you can see, Jaew is a very versatile sauce that can be used with a wide range of grilled and boiled dishes. The next question will be, can you make this sauce at home?

Making Jaew sauce at home: Nam Jim Jaew recipe

Here is a simple, step-by-step recipe to make Nam Jim Jaew at home. The recipe is for about 5 portions so that you can keep and use it over a few meals.

  1. Mix 10 tablespoons of tamarind or green lime sauce with about 12 tablespoons of fish sauce
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar together with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Then mix well until the sugar melts
  3. Add chili flakes. While we recommend 4-5 tablespoons, you can adjust the spiciness to your liking
  4. Pan roast raw rice grains until they turn crisp & brown. Then put the rice into a grinder/mixer to make ground roasted rice powder
  5. Your Jaew sauce is about 90% ready! Do this last step right before your meal to ensure freshness of the ingredients: top up Jaew sauce with ground roasted rice powder and finely chopped coriander/green onion
nam jim jaew_recipe

Nam Jim Jaew bottle

While the sauce is not hard to make, it requires a wide range of ingredients which may not be readily available outside of Thailand. In that case, Nam Jim Jaew in a bottle is an alternative.

There are a number of brands to choose from, the renowned ones include Pure Foods and Deksomboon. While bottled sauce is an alternative, it goes without saying that the taste and fragrance will not be comparable to the original sauce. Hence, we would still recommend making your own sauce at home.

If you are overseas and left without any other choice, you can improve the bottled sauce using lime, chili, ground roasted rice powder or chopped coriander.

Or, you can always make a visit to the nearest Thai restaurant!

Jaew sauce & healthy menu

nam jim jaew_sauce healthy

You can incorporate Nam Jim Jaew into a healthy menu for health conscious consumers or those on diet. In general, Jaew also works great in adding taste and fragrance to dishes with mild taste.

Some examples are steamed fish and steamed vegetable. Both fresh water or seawater steamed fish, they would go nicely when paired with Jaew and they would taste less bland. Almost all steamed vegetables can go well with Jaew sauce. Moreover, if you want to make it even better, you can add herbs like lemongrass or Thai basil when steaming the vegetables!

Should you try the Jaew sauce?

Jaew is a versatile sauce that is easy to make and can be paired with a wide range of grilled, boiled, and steamed ingredients. It can amp up the flavor of food that does not have strong taste quite well. It is a very commonly found sauce in any Thai restaurants, so you should at least try this sauce and see if you like it.  If you need to make it at home yourself, you can try doing it as the steps are fairly easy.

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Thai BBQ_featured

Thai BBQ pork & chicken and the sauce

When you think of Thai food, soup or stir fried dishes may first come to your mind owing to famous Thai dishes like Tom Yum soup or Pad Thai. However, Thai BBQ is also delicious and have special features like the marination process and special sauces. Learn more about what makes this BBQ dish special in this post!

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What is Thai BBQ?

In general, Thai BBQ refers to grilled meat, primarily pork and chicken. This is because they are the most common meat options in Thailand. Thais traditionally use charcoal for grilling, and this is still being practiced today. As you might know, charcoal grilled meat carries a nice and unique charcoal fragrance.

One key factor that makes this type of BBQ special is the long marination process that makes the meat flavourful and tender. Moreover, it often uses a wide range of herbs and seasoning for marination that lasts for a few hours to overnight. Common herbs & seasoning include:

  • Oyster sauce
  • Light soy sauce
  • White pepper
  • Garlic
  • Coriander’s roots
  • A bit of sugar

Another factor that makes Thai BBQ unique is the sauce, which we will cover more of this later.

Thai BBQ_marination

Wongnai has a few recipe for Thai style marination here.

Popular BBQ pork and chicken dishes

Thai people make use of a wide range of pork and chicken parts in BBQ, some of which you may not be very familiar with. 

BBQ Pork

BBQ pork can range from the standard meat to pork belly and pork neck. Thai people also have BBQ pork skewers with sticky rice for breakfast! Moreover BBQ pork belly is a popular component of a Som Tum meal. Lastly you may also find unusual parts like BBQ pork intestine and pork ear in Thailand as well.

BBQ Chicken

If you visit a BBQ specialist in Thailand (usually street vendors), you will find almost all chicken parts starting from chicken breast, thigh, drum stick, wings to even parts like chicken butt, gizzard, heart, liver or chicken feet! You can also opt to BBQ a whole chicken which can be more affordable overall if you eat all chicken parts.

Thai BBQ sauce

Thai people love sauces so this local-style BBQ is often served with the special local BBQ sauce. The two most common sauces include Thai chicken sauce and Nam Jim Jaew.

Thai chicken sauce

While the name suggests that this sauce is great with chicken, Thai chicken sauce is great for all grilled and fried food. This includes any meat, seafood or spring rolls. The sauce is red in color and you will see some chili inside. However this sauce is mostly sweet and not really spicy. Most people find this sauce a perfect companion for any BBQ item!

This sauce is quite popular. In fact, McDonald’s even offers it in overseas markets like Hong Kong where they charge customers extra for this sauce.

Nam Jim Jaew

Unlike the sweet Thai chicken sauce, Nam Jim Jaew mostly tastes spicy and sour. The sauce is made from a wide range of seasonings and it is perfect for both BBQ chicken and pork. We have a dedicated article to talk about Nam Jim Jaew in case you are interested. 

Thai seafood dipping sauce

Another signature Thai sauce that typically goes with grilled/boiled/steamed seafood in Thailand. This spicy and sour sauce also goes well with grilled meat!

Thai BBQ chicken_BBQ sauce

Thai satay BBQ

Thai satay

The topic about Thai BBQ would not be complete without the satay BBQ. We put Thai satay BBQ under a different category as it typically has a different marination process and sauce.

In Thailand, satay generally refers to BBQ pork skewers which have a unique marination process. Marination process for the the satay BBQ uses herbs like galangal, lemongrass, coriander seeds, pepper along with other key ingredients like turmeric, curry powder and coconut milk. 

There are 2 types of sauce that is always served with the satay BBQ:

  • Ar Jad sauce: a transparent sauce mixed with fresh vegetables like cucumber, shallot and coriander leaves. It gives a sweet & sour taste, which is refreshing when served with fresh vegetables
  • Satay sauce: a mixture of curry powder and coconut milk together with peanut (watch out  for those of you who are allergic to peanuts). The sauce is sweet with a hint of spiciness and it has milkiness from coconut milk and peanuts. 

Mookata

When you think of BBQ in Asia, you may start thinking of something similar to Japanese yakiniku or Korean BBQ. The types of Thai BBQ we talk about may give off a different image than other Asian counterparts. Just like how Japan has both yakitori (BBQ skewer) and yakiniku, Thailand also has its own BBQ that we described above and Mookata. 

Mookata is the closest thing to yakiniku or Korean BBQ in Thai cuisine. However, we will cover this topic in another article.

Mookata_Thai BBQ

Is Thai BBQ delicious?

Yes, we love meat and we find the meat preparation in this type of BBQ really creates very fragrant, herby and delicious meat. We love the unique sauces available for Thai BBQ as well. Our personal favorite will be the Nam Jim Jaew, as we love both spicy and sour, and not sweet taste. If you love meat and BBQ, definitely you should try Thai-style BBQ and compare it with other types of BBQ you have had before. 

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Jim Jum hotpot_featured

Jim Jum hotpot: Thai-style spicy & sour hotpot

Hotpot is a popular Asian dish loved by many. We have previously covered Tom Yum hotpot but there is an even more popular type of hotpot in Thailand called Jim Jum hotpot. This hotpot is a local dish that can be regarded as a Thai hotpot. What is a Thai hotpot and how different is it from the regular hotpot? Learn more about this in this post.

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What is a Thai hotpot?

When you think of hotpot, the first thing that comes to your mind would probably be shabu shabu, sukiyaki ( the two types of Japanese hotpot) or huo guo (Chinese hotpot). However, Thailand also has its own local hotpot. 

So what is a Thai hotpot? First, you can probably guess that a Thai hotpot is hot, spicy, sour and is full of fragrance. That is right. That’s what a Jim Jum hotpot is like. Jim Jum originates from North Eastern Thailand (or Issan). The dish is very much like a hotpot where a hot soup is left to simmer at the table. Then, you can cook fresh ingredients like meat or vegetables by yourself at the table.

The name Jim Jum means “dip” in Thai, this reflects the action where you dip fresh ingredients into the soup to cook, then dip cooked ingredients into Jim Jum special sauce before eating.

Traditionally this hotpot is served in a clay pot where a heat source is put under the pot to keep the soup hot. However many modern operators have since replaced this more traditional way of cooking with a gas/electric stove. What makes this Thai hotpot a unique dish lies with the herb, the soup and its sauce. More on this in the following section.

A Thai hotpot soup base and sauce

Jim Jum or Thai hotpot soup base makes the dish unique. It has a herbal fragrance and spicy & sour taste. Thai hotpot soup base draws its fragrance from herbs like lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallot and other special ingredients like dried chili and ground roasted rice. The soup base is typically flavoured using fish sauce and lime as well to complete the spicy & sour taste.

The last unique component of this hotpot is its sauce called Nam Jim Jaew. This sauce is a North-eastern Thai sauce that goes well with hotpot but also grilled meat or Thai bbq. You will often find the same sauce on your Som Tum meal if you also order grilled chicken or pork neck. 

Nam jim jaew is also spicy and sour! Its key ingredients include fish sauce, sugar, lime, tamarind sauce, chili flakes, ground roasted rice and a lot of green onion/parsley (this sauce can also be used with Thai BBQ dishes!)

If you want to see more details about the Jim Jum hotpot, watch this great video from Wongnai here.

What can you put into a Jim Jum hotpot?

Jim Jum hotpot_sauce_ingredients

Similar to other types of hotpot, you can customize the content of your meal. You can add a wide range of fresh meat and vegetables, it really comes down to what you like. 

However, there are some standard ingredients including:

  • Vermicelli
  • Egg
  • Pork
  • Thai basil
  • Fresh vegetables like morning glory, cabbage or napa cabbage

Where should you try Jim Jum hotpot in Thailand?

As you can see by this point, this Thai hotpot is all about that spicy and sour flavour. Therefore, most of the Jim Jum hotpot you find in Thailand can get very spicy. Even Thais often find many of them too spicy!

If you do not want to take any risk, we would recommend established restaurant groups. This is because the taste tends to be milder and you would not have to worry about any hygiene issues.

Some places that you can visit to try Jim Jum hotpot:

You will be able to find branches from these restaurant groups quite easily in Bangkok.

Should you try Jim Jum hotpot?

Yes, you should. However, if you go to a more traditional/local establishment, the Jim Jum there is not for the faint of heart. That’s why we mentioned foreigners should go to a more established chain hotpot place that can offer a milder Jim Jum soup. 

Nonetheless, if you love hotpot and you are in Thailand, just go and try this local hotpot. you can try both Tom Yum hotpot as well as Jim Jum hotpot while you are in the country. 

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Kaffir lime_tom yum

Tom Yum Soup Calories & Health Benefits

Tom Yum soup is without a doubt delicious. However, for the health conscious, calories count and health aspects of the food also matter. So, how much is the Tom Yum soup calories and what are its health benefits? We’ll cover this topic in this post. We have also covered other version of Tom Yum-based products like Tom Yum noodle, Mama Tom Yum instant noodle and Tom Yum hotpot. Do check them out!

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Tom Yum soup calories breakdown

Tom yum soup calories_ingredient

Approximately, there is ~355 calories per serving for creamy version and 270 per serving for clear broth for a serving of tom yum soup.

How do we come up with this breakdown? It is actually complicated to come up with this number as there are two types of Tom Yum, clear and creamy soup. Moreover, there are numerous Tom Yum variations like seafood, chicken etc.

In this article, we will be focusing on a clear and creamy variation of shrimp Tom Yum soup dish. For our measurement, we will be referring to this delicious looking recipe from Wongnai for a full bowl enough for 4 servings. We use: 

  • 600 grams of shrimp:  ~830 calories 
  • 600 grams mushroom: ~130 calories 
  • 50 grams of shallot: 40 calories
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar: 50 calories
  • 2 tablespoon of fish sauce: 40 calories
  • [For creamy soup] 1 tablespoon of Thai chili paste: ~200 calories
  • [For creamy soup] 7 tablespoon of evaporated milk: ~130 calories

Hence, we can arrive at the following Tom Yum soup calories count: the creamy version has 1,420/4 = 355 calories per serving, while clear broth version has 270 per serving.

We also did not factor in calories from other herbal ingredients like lime, lemon grass, kaffir lime, galangal etc. This is because you do not typically eat the herbs in Tom Yum. Their main contribution is to add fragrance, taste and add some health benefit – more on this below.

Tom Yum soup's herbal properties

Thai herbs_mix herb

Tom Yum soup has these 5 main herbs: 

  1. Ginger
  2. Kaffir lime
  3. Lemongrass
  4. Galangal

Ginger will give the fragrance and also add spiciness to the soup. Kaffir lime is for the sour taste of the soup and also the refreshing citrusy fragrance. Lemongrass and galangal are for the unique Tom Yum soup fragrance, they are very important in giving Tom Yum its distinctive aroma. 

Being rich in herbs and spices, Tom Yum has a very rich, unique aroma that is popular among many. Therefore, no wonder that this recipe is also used in many other applications like Tom Yum noodle, hotpot as well as packaged instant noodle. 

Is Tom Yum soup good for colds?

Tom Yum soup calories_herbal

The herbs in Tom Yum may/may not have direct health benefits as cold remedies. However, if you have lost appetite or can not quite taste your food, Tom Yum soup might just be the dish for you. This is because the taste and the fragrance from the soup should be able to revive your appetite. 

The herbal properties in Tom Yum soup, however, might alleviate the sickness (but will not essentially cure it). Ginger, galangal and lemongrass all have some anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are essential in helping our body to recover from sickness.

Is Tom Yum soup good for colds then? To a certain extent yes, it is soothing and an amazing comfort food when you are sick. Also, its strong aroma can revive the appetite that you often lose when you are suffering from colds. However, we will not say it will cure the colds. Generally speaking, having nutritious meal, water intake and sufficient rest is always key to speedy recovery when you are not feeling well.

Is Tom Yum soup healthy?

Yes, it is healthy to consume Tom Yum soup. It is not high in calories and it is rich in herbs and spices. Herbs and spices have a lot of proven health benefits for us. However, as mentioned there are a lot of variations of Tom Yum soup. If you have certain conditions, you might need to tweak your Tom Yum ingredients. For example, if you have high cholesterol, you might want to add more fish and lessen the amount of squid and shrimp. 

In conclusion, Tom Yum is a highly customizable dish. Therefore, you can make it suit your health needs! 

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Tom Yum Hotpot_featured

Tom Yum Hotpot: A delicious way to enjoy Tom Yum soup

Tom Yum soup is a Thai dish known to be flavorful and fragrant. Having said that, the tastiness of its soup needs no further introduction. In this post, we want to talk about the use of Tom Yum soup in hotpot. Previously, we have talked about Tom Yum application in Tom Yum noodle and also Tom Yum instant noodle (like Tom Yum Mama instant noodle). Hotpot is another popular Asian “dish” across many Asian countries. So, what is it like when we combine Tom Yum soup and hotpot together i.e. Tom Yum hotpot? Learn more in this article if you are curious!

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Hotpot: What kind of dish is this?

Hot pot meal

Hotpot is a popular Asian dish where a boiling pot of soup is served at a dining table such that the hot soup can be left simmered at the table. Diners then cook raw ingredients such as fresh meat, fresh vegetables, meat balls, tofu, fish balls, etc. in the soup. The combination of the soup and the fresh ingredients as well as the different combo of hotpot sauces makes eating hotpot a really tasty affair.

We love hotpot meals as we get to sit around, enjoy fresh ingredients, customize our sauces and enjoy conversations with friends and families. Hotpot is a popular Asian dish that is typically consumed during get-together events. Having said that, you will find variations of this dish in many Asian countries:

  • Korea: Bulgogi Jeongol / Budae Jjigae
  • Japan: Shabu-shabu / sukiyaki
  • China: Huo Guo
  • Singapore: Steamboat
  • Thailand: Jim Jum / Tom Yum hotpot

Is Tom Yum hotpot delicious?

Tom yum hotpot

The answer is: absolutely! Similar to Tom Yum soup or Tom Yum noodle, Tom Yum hotpot is made of broth full of herbs like lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chili, etc. The soup itself is mainly spicy and sour, but has a bit of sweet taste as well. 

Such a soup is a perfect match with fresh meat like beef/pork, as well as seafood such as shrimp/prawn or squid. Most vegetables would go well with Tom Yum hotpot as well. However, if you prefer your vegetables to not soak in too much of the Tom Yum soup, many restaurants would also allow you to split your hotpot into half. This way, you can have an option to have a clearer broth (milder tasting soup) in the other half. 

While restaurants in Thailand would give you sauces to go with your Tom Yum hotpot meal, we think the Tom Yum soup itself already adds enough flavor to the fresh ingredients. Hence, we typically refrain from using the sauce and simply enjoy the Tom Yum taste on the different hotpot ingredients.

Where can you try this kind of hotpot in Thailand?

There are a couple of top recommendations that we want to introduce here. These places have consistent quality and are tourist-friendly as well.

MK restaurants: This is the first and easiest option. MK Restaurants is Thailand’s largest hotpot chain with more than 400 branches across the country. MK Restaurants is known for their fresh ingredients and they have managed to maintain their quality across their branches.

Coca: An authentic Thai brand (they also own the Mango Tree brand) with history dated back to 1957. Today, Coca has a presence in 12 countries around the world. Another brand that will not disappoint you.

The above two names are our general recommendation as they are also foreigner friendly. But there actually are a lot of small hotpot/shabu-shabu operators in Thailand who also offer Tom Yum soup in their hotpot. Usually they exist as a standalone shop and they may not have an English menu. We can’t speak for their quality as there are so many of them. However, Google Map is your best friend if you want to check their reviews first before visiting the place.

Can you make this Tom Yum dish at home?

Absolutely, but you will need to prepare the necessary ingredients and Thai herbs for the Tom Yum soup. The typical ones include: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallot, fresh chili, lime, fish sauce, and Thai chili paste. Apart from that, you will need fresh meat/vegetables to go with your hotpot. Wongnai has an interesting recipe for Tom Yum hotpot here. There is also a video with English subtitle available. 

Is Tom Yum hotpot worth trying?

Definitely. If you love Tom Yum and herbs/spices that Tom Yum has, this dish is for you. Also, if you have not tried hotpot at all (maybe you are new to Asia), this is also a good first hotpot dish to have! There are multitudes of hotpot soups out there, and Tom Yum soup is one of them – and our favorite too! Pick a reputable place, because the raw ingredients quality can make or break your hotpot experience, whether it is Tom Yum hotpot or other types of hotpot. 

It can be cheaper to have it at home if you are to eat the hotpot with your family members. You just need to make sure you have a good quality Tom Yum soup, quality raw ingredients, and the hotpot apparatus. Hotpot is such a fun get-together activity. Enjoy your hotpot!

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Mama Tom Yum Noodle_featured

Mama Tom Yum Noodle: Thailand’s Famous Instant Noodle

Tom Yum is delicious but, preparing your own Tom Yum is not that easy! This dish requires a wide range of herbs and spices which may not be readily available to everyone. Having said that, if you are craving Tom Yum, especially if you are overseas, an instant noodle with Tom Yum flavor might answer your craving (temporarily). Mama Tom Yum noodle is a quick (3-5 minutes) option for those who are looking to enjoy a quick Tom Yum meal. In this article, we will cover different types of Mama Tom Yum noodle and how can you best enjoy them.

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Instant noodle: Tom Yum flavour

Mama Tom Yum Noodle_Instan noodle in Thailand

There are many brands and flavours of instant noodles in Thailand. In fact, there is even an “instant noodle restaurant” that offers meals made exclusively from instant noodles. However, whenever someone talks about Thai instant noodle, the first thing comes to mind would be the Tom Yum flavoured ones.

There are many Thai instant noodle brands but the 3 largest ones are below (source). Also, all of them offer Tom Yum flavoured instant noodle

  • Mama: ~52% marketshare
  • Waiwai: ~24% marketshare
  • Yumyum: ~23% marketshare

Due to its market domination, the brand “Mama” became a Thai word for instant noodle. Its most popular flavor is also the Tom Yum flavor.  

Mama Shrimp Tom Yum noodle

Mama shrimp tom yum noodle

In the previous article, we have covered the 2 types of Tom Yum soups clear broth vs. creamy variation. As a quick recap, the creamy variation has chili paste and evaporated milk added on top of the clear broth variation. 

The classic Mama Shrimp Tom Yum noodle taste closer to the clear broth version of Tom Yum soup. Its spicy and sour soup is reddish in color but is still transparent. Official name of this noodle is Mama Brand Oriental Style Instant Noodles Shrimp Flavour.

Mama Creamy Tom Yum noodle

As the name suggests, this variation resembles the creamy Tom Yum soup. When compared to the classic version, Mama creamy Tom Yum noodle has a smoother creamy texture but still retains the spicy and sour taste of the classic one. Appearance-wise, the soup color is more orange than red when compared to the classic version. Official name of the noodle is Mama Brand Oriental Style Instant Noodles Shrimp Creamy Tom Yum Flavour.

What can you add to Mama Tom Yum noodle?

Instant noodles taste great! However, they can be made better (and more nutritious) with some additional ingredients.  

In terms of taste, Mama noodle is already spicy and sour. But, many still want to enhance the soup further to make the taste closer to the real Tom Yum soup. For this, adding more lime always works wonders. Those who prefer spicy taste can also add more chili to their liking. 

For herbs, adding sliced shallots or coriander and green onion can make the soup smell even more fragrant! You can also add the original Tom Yum herbs like kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass or galangal. (But honestly, if you have these ingredients already, you might as well make the real Tom Yum soup!)

For protein, you can add minced pork or sliced pork. Pork tends to go well with the Tom Yum noodle. However, the real MVP of protein would be eggs. You can simply add the egg in while boiling the noodles or add boiled egg directly. They taste really good with Tom Yum noodles.

You can add any kinds of vegetables into Tom Yum noodle for more fiber. We like cabbage and Chinese spinach the best to go with our Tom Yum noodles. 

Having said all the above, remember this pro tip from us: If you are adding many ingredients to the noodle, they might dilute its taste. Therefore, you might need to add additional seasoning accordingly.

Should you try Mama Tom Yum noodle?

You should, at least once. Definitely we will recommend you to try the real Tom Yum noodle that is freshly made at the store. However, sometimes you are hungry at night and stores are closed, you will not be disappointed with Mama Tom Yum instant noodle! 

Also for those who are not in Thailand, you can get a taste of Thailand’s Tom Yum by eating this instant noodle. Moreover, the noodle itself has a taste (go ahead and try the dry noodle). It is often used without its seasoning in making Thai salad. 

We believe in most households in Thailand, they have some stocks of Mama Tom Yum noodles – simply because it’s easy to make and very tasty.

Go ahead and try it yourself!

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