Arriving at Bangkok one midnight last October 2009, one of my biggest challenges was food. I really had no idea whether I would easily find halal foods in my neighborhood later. Just the next morning, when I walked down the street, I found that many, if not most, of Thai street menus consisted of pork (in Thai, it is muu – read a bit long with rising tone), similarly in their mall food courts and restaurants. It is so fortunate that many ready-to-eat fruits were sold in almost every corner of the roads. Fruit was really my survival food at that time. But as a fruit lover, I did not mind at all. Besides, there is also a Burmese Muslim pancake seller near where I am currently staying. However, about a month later I could already alternate my meals/snack even better with more options. What options are they? Well, that’s today’s focus. We are going to discuss about considerably halal street foods, which, I imagine, can be helpful for Muslims who are newbies at Bangkok (and Thailand). I call it as: halal survival food for first timer in Thailand :-).
1) Som-tam (also known as papayapokpok)
This is basically an unripe shredded papaya salad with traditional dressing which can be super hot and spicy. Ask the seller to reduce the chilies if you cannot have a hot spicy food. Note this one: raw black crabs are usually added in the salad. I suggest you not to order this crab to be added as some reports say that raw crabs can contain parisitic worm (trematode) called Paragonimus. These micro creatures can cause serious illness from diarrhea, abdominal pain, up to lung infection. However, its popularity inspires me to give this site its name.
Price: 20-30 baht.
2) Pad-thai (Thai style noodle)
I make a synonym myself for this food: noisy noodle. Why? Because when the seller cooks this food, there are some noises from the metal cooking utensils. This food is also popular and available almost everywhere, from street to restaurant. The noodle is mixed with shrimps, eggs, spices, and sprouts. Sometime chicken is also available so I would order clearly : padthai with goong (shrimp). Crushed groundnuts and slices of chili can optionally be added.
Price: 25-40 baht.
3) Pla-pao (salted grilled fish)
This is a whole freshwater fish with a stalk of lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves put in the internal cavity. The fish is heavily salted on the outside to form a slight salt crust. The fish is then grilled on a hot grill until done. The salt-crusted skin is carefully peeled away to reveal a moist perfectly cooked fish. It is served with sauce (a bit sour as there is lime juice inside) and some raw vegetables.
Price: 50-80 baht, depends on the size.
4) Pla-meuk (grilled squid)
In many occasions, seafood is ‘life safer’ for Muslims, as for this plameuk (note that literally, pla means fish, and so squid is regarded as fish here). It is simply whole medium size squid grilled on a charcoal grill (you’ll find that Thais love to grill just anything!). It is served with sour sauce like the sauce for plapao.
Price: 20-30 baht.
To be continued in Part 2…
Also read : Some halal products in Bangkok stores.