For some of my Geography journal entries, my friend, Alyson Oüten, takes you around the globe, from her backyard in Boise, Idaho, to the streets of Europe and beyond. Today, she is off Bangkok, to sample Thai cuisine and culture. Take it from here, Aly. It’s all yours!!!!!
If you want to feel like you’ve truly traveled to a distant land, go to Bangkok. It is by far the most densely populated city in Thailand, and it feels that way … congested with about 12 million people.
While Bangkok is known for its nightlife, I concentrated on its daylife. My time in the hot and humid city was spent trolling the markets, cruising the river, and exploring historical sights rather than clubs.
The river is a great way to navigate the city. It also makes visible the extreme contrast between the haves and the have nots. The river is lined with palaces and modern architecture towering over dilapidated and inhabited shacks. Each place the boats dock opens to a world of exotic alleyways filled with food vendors and souvenir stands … a warren of passageways that can easily lead you astray … and into someone’s humble home.
For traveling further inland, the sophisticated subway system is a good option, or you can rent a tuk tuk—little 2-passanger taxis that ferry tourists all around the city.
One of the most popular and overwhelming tourist sites was the Grand Palace … that isn’t actually “a” palace, but a compound crammed with numerous gold-gilded and incredibly hand-embellished buildings. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782.
Thailand is renowned for its food. I was totally seduced by the street vendors … and wanted to be braver than I was.
The sanitary conditions clearly would not meet any criteria set by health inspectors in America, but the aromas emitting from the little carts smelled delicious. I played it a bit safer and ate at restaurants. I had Pad Thai, spicy green papaya salad, and seafood soups. But, it was so steamy in Bangkok that I would frequently just order cool, refreshing summer rolls.
PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES
MAKES: 14 ROLLS
1 t sesame oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup green onions, sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
5 mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
1 T fish sauce
4 ozs rice stick noodles, cooked
14 egg roll wraps
14 mint leaves
14 cilantro leaves
¼ cup safflower oil
1. In a large skillet over medium low heat, add the sesame oil, turkey, onions, carrots, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and fish sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes, until turkey is cooked, stirring frequently to break up any large pieces of turkey.
2. Divide the noodles and turkey mixture evenly between the egg roll wraps and top with one mint leaf and one cilantro leaf.
3. Fold up each side and roll up from back to front.
4. In a large skillet, heat about half of the safflower oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, place 7 of the rolls in the oil. Cook until the wrapper is golden brown, and turn to brown all sides. Repeat this process with the remaining oil and rolls.
*Traditionally, Summer Rolls are prepared with rice sheets rather than egg roll wrappers. If you are fortunate enough to have an Asian market in your area, skip the egg roll wrappers and the safflower oil, and simply fill the rice paper sheets, roll, and enjoy!
Add 1 t of sesame oil to a large skillet.
Add 1 lb of ground turkey, 5 halved and thinly sliced mushrooms, 1 cup sliced green onions, and 1 medium shredded carrot.
Add ½ t salt.
Add ¼ t pepper.
Add 1 T fish sauce.
Cook for about 10 minutes until turkey is cooked, stirring frequently to break up any large pieces of turkey.
Divide the turkey mixture evenly between 14 egg roll wraps.
Add noodles, taking care not to overfill.
Top with one mint leaf and one cilantro leaf.
Fold up each side and roll up from back to front.
In a large skillet, heat about 2 T of the safflower oil over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, place 7 of the rolls in the oil.
Cook until the wrappers are golden brown, and turn to brown all sides.
Repeat this process with the remaining 2 T of oil and 7 rolls.
Then dip in sauce.