Sawasdee Kah! Well….. after a long two and a half years…..I’m finally back in my Thailand home of KOH SAMUI!It’s only been three weeks so far, but during this time I have been VERY hard at work eating and tasting my way around the island just for you! (It was a tough gig). After all this exhausting gluttonous research, I decided to compile a list of my all time favourite Island Foods! This list is endless and it was a difficult choice as to what made the Top Cut, but I elected to just concentrate on the foods that I could eat every day (if I had too) and that represent Samui for me! Here are the choices that swing my hammock and why! Please feel free to add your own delectable discoveries!
The all time greatest salad you will taste in Samui as it punches you in the face with flavour! Made from green papaya, shredded carrot, snake beans, tomatoes, peanuts, chillis, deep fried miniature prawns, lime juice and to top it all off, the world’s best spicy/citrus dressing, all bashed up in a mortar and pestle and it is TOO DIE FOR!! Have it as spicy or mild as to your taste, but it is known as a spicy dish.
I prefer mine to be hot as hell (as is the traditional Thai way and I’m a bit weird), but not everyone has tastebuds of steel! I could and do it eat this every day, either with lunch or dinner and the heat permeates through your body and makes all your senses wake up and say welcome to Thailand! Available on most menu’s around the island.
[FYI– there is also a Green Mango version of this heavenly salad which is not very common to find on menu’s, but if it is an option, try this too as it is equally delicious!]
DEEP- FRIED WHOLE SNAPPER WITH GREEN PEPPERCORNS AND GARLIC
Introduced to us many years ago by a local expat or Pharang, this dish is yet another that is not always on the menu. My favourite and the best so far on the island (that we have found) is from BLACK PEARL Restaurant in Lamai. To cook this, they take a whole snapper and fillet it, then deep fry the individual fillets and the main fish bone and then reconstruct on the plate so it still appears as whole fish! Magic!
The sauce is made from crushed garlic, green peppercorns, fish sauce, soy sauce and oil. This is poured over the top and garnished with bean sprouts. Trust me, it is one of the BEST dishes I have ever eaten! Monsieur Bleu (MB) and I have this at least once a week and we are still trying to find a better version! It’s not spicy at all, but is packed with flavour and you don’t have to freak out about sneaky fish bones! I beg you to try this dish if you get the chance….your tastebud’s will salute you!
[FYI– many restaurants claim to do this but they only use the fish fillets and it’s NOT the same at all. You can also choose other sauce options like Sweet and Sour, Thai Style with fried garlic or Thai Spice which is my other favourite!]
RED DUCK CURRY
There are many different and delicious curries available in Samui. Green, Red, Yellow, Massaman or Penang accompanied with chicken, pork, prawn or seafood options, they are all fantastic in their own way! BUT….the Queen of Curries for me is Red Duck Curry.
Roasted duck breast (skin on) is simmered in a spicy, red-curry coconut sauce along with lychees, pineapple, kaffir lime leaves, baby purple eggplant and tiny pea-eggplant! It’s freakin’ fab! As usual, I order this as hot as Dante’s Inferno and sweat my way through heaven in a bowl! Make sure you order a small side of plain steamed rice so you can drink the remainder of the sauce and calm the fire in your mouth! The best MB and I have found is available from the restaurant KRUA BOPHUT in Fisherman’s Village in Bophut.
….Yet another fab salad that you never see on menu’s (strange as the fruit is everywhere??)
Pomelo is a pale yellow fruit similar looking to grapefruit. Its texture is similar too, but the individual segments have tiny cocoons of juice that explode in your mouth! Delicious! MB and I found this heavenly version of Pomelo Salad at the restaurant BIG JOHN in Lipanoi. It consists of pomelo segments, warm grilled tiger prawns, snake beans and peanuts done in a spicy red-curry base coconut dressing. Amazing! It’s a shame that this is the only place we have seen this salad but I have it every time I go! I am going to attempt to recreate this masterpiece at home very soon! Watch this space……..
What can I say…….for me, this is the bomb in the ice-cream department!! Turn your back on Häagen -Dazs and show Ben and Jerry’s the door, ‘cos this baby wins the Oscar! Mainly found at the Walking Street Food Markets, this milk based delight is made in a huge steel drum. The coconut is opened before you and you get to drink the water (bonus) then the coconut flesh is scraped out and put aside for the topping. The ice-cream (which is coconut, milk, condensed milk and ice), is scooped into your ready made coconut- shell bowl, topped with the fresh coconut flesh and garnished with a fresh orchid flower! Hello!! So simple, elegant, delicious and kinda healthy all at once! Treat yourself next time you spot one on the roadside!
HAND- ROLLED FROZEN YOGHURT
This is a rather new addition to the Night Market food scene and I’m very happy about that too! Now that the ‘Fro-Yo’ craze is in full swing around the globe ( thanks to the USA and ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’), why not switch it up a notch here in Koh Samui and make this Fro-Yo not only healthy and packed with fresh produce, but the most eye-catching and delicate frozen dessert you will come across! It’s even a bit ‘too pretty’ to eat! Also found at the Night Markets (seem’s all the good stuff is), it is made before you on an iced steel surface. You get to choose your mixer, be it fruit, biscuits, lollies etc and then the milk and yogurt is poured onto the metal surface, mixed and chopped with your fruit (think Cold Rock Ice cream in the 90’s), and then spread into a thin sheet which becomes instantly frozen. The Fro-Yo magician then gets to work hand rolling your frozen delights and then places these delicate rolls in little cup! Gorgeous and a true work of art and ingenuity! (Refer to main photo)
For those who love and know me well, fruit is not my ‘thing’. Give me a bag of Allen’s Jelly Snakes or let me loose on a Pick ’n Mix confectionary store in Westfield and that’s my sugar intake for the day! Natural sugars and fructose have never really played a big part in my diet, for the simple reason that I just DON’T LIKE FRUIT!! Sad but true!
BUT……I have been awakened here in Samui all thanks to the re-discovery (I also found them in Madagascar but never really got into them) of the humble Mangosteen. This unpretentious purple fruit is a gift from the fruit Gods! Picture a mango, passionfuit and strawberry making love and this is the amazing flavour that has been created! Now you get why I suddenly eat fruit! To choose a ripe one, press firmly on the purple outer skin and see if it gives. If so, it’s ripe and ready to rip open and reveal the white flesh inside! You will be shocked at first, as it looks exactly like a garlic clove but tastes like paradise! These little bulbs of goodness are found EVERYWHERE, so make sure you pick up a kilo for your house/room for breakfast or just to have as a snack.
[FYI– they last approx 3 days in the bowl. I always get the local Family Mart lady to choose mine for me as she has the ‘eye’, as I always manage to pick the rotten ones!]
What says ‘Tropical Island Paradise’ more than a fresh coconut? These one kilogram bundles of goodness are the epitome of health in a hot climate! Used for almost everything here on the island, be it for its creamy white flesh to make coconut milk/cream, the water to sell as a take-away product or the husks to produce coconut oil (be it for massage or cooking), it is available on just about every street corner, corner shop or stall. Costing anywhere between 40-80 Baht ($1.50 AUS) it’s a meal in itself! Drink the water, then scoop out the flesh for a quick snack/breakfast or dessert and then use the shells as a doorstop, ashtray, candle holder etc, the list goes on! Said to contain every possible vitamin and nutrient possible, it is still my Superfood of choice! They say that if you are stranded on deserted island and all you have are coconuts, then you will survive for many years…..take that one ‘Castaway’!
…AND last but certainly not least………..
I know I know, I can here you all groaning and saying that Pad Thai isn’t really Thai and that it’s a ‘safe ‘dish for tourists. All correct. BUT…..I have to include it in my Best Food Blog because I LOVE IT! So there! Pad Thai is a quick, healthy, delicious and tasty dish to eat at anytime. It’s made from flat rice noodles, chicken, peanuts, spring onion, garlic, bean sprouts, tofu, egg and fresh lime.
This is the basic recipe but I have seen and tasted many varying styles! I even ate a pink version once! Same same but different as they put tomato ketchup in it for the colour! It matched my bikini which was a trifle unsettling but it tasted ok and was a bit of fun! When it comes to the table make sure you ask for the little bowls of sauce and spice that they have (they don’t always offer it, so make sure you insist as it makes all the difference in the final result). It’s four little bowls, each individually containing chilli flakes, white vinegar with green and red fresh chilli, raw sugar and of course, fish sauce. Use as much or as little as you desire to make your own unique flavour and heat combo! I load mine up with all the toppings except the sugar and then drench it all in extra lime juice, much to the amusement of the locals! Choose between chicken, prawns, squid, pork or seafood but in my eyes, chicken (Gai) is the traditional way to go and the tastiest. Eaten with chopsticks and accompanied by a chilled local beer poured over ice and lemon, this the Lunch of Champions!
FUN FOOD FACT: If you ever see “Pad Thai wrapped in an Egg Basket” on a menu, this is the Holy Grail of Pad Thai!I It is the same dish, just encased in a delicate lattice of fried omelette both amazing looking and tasty!
[FYI– this is THE best hangover cure you will find on the island..not that I know anything about that… just what I have heard!]
Now…. go devour, drink and discover your own taste sensations and spice up your lives! Let gluttony be your friend! Than hai aroi na kha (aka) Bon Appetit!
…”There is no love more sincere than the love of food”… George Bernard Shaw