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Thai cuisine -- where's the offal?


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I admit that I haven't been to many great Thai restaurants in America. Perhaps the best is Sripriphai in New York that had a great pork stomach dish. Other than that, I can't recall ever seeing any kind of offal or other exotic meat or fish on any Thai restaurant menu.

Being Chinese, offal and exotic meats are my bread and butter. Whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant, that's what I order. So I'm always disappointed when don't find any at Thai restaurants. Do Thai people just not eat offal? Surely not?

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I have eaten warm, freshly slaughtered buffalo liver in a sort of laab treatment with plently of chillies while in the north ....also had a dish of the meat mixed with the contents of the stomach or perhaps the intestines just below the stomach...it was a greenish mass and made the meat quite bitter...I was not that keen to enquire exactly what the stuff was at the time but in retrospect I wish I had...I enjoyed the liver...

ps. edited to add that offal in soup is readily available, some delicious examples in Chiang Mai..

Edited by insomniac (log)
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Chat Thai in Sydney has a great breakfast menu. A dish called in English "Thom Liead Moo" - its menu description is a "pork sweetmeats and blood pudding in chicken consomme lightly seasoned with flash sauteed garlic, chinese celery, salted turnips, shallots and coriander" - has pork intenstines and other pieces of offal, as well as perfect squares of set blood similar to what I've often had in pho. It's a delicious dish. I'm sure that there's plenty of offal in Thai cuisine - but it's also very rare on Thai menus in Australia.

My guess would be the reasons are a combination of the difficulty these days in sourcing offal in western countries like Austrralia, anticipated customer resistance on the part of the restaurant, and possible real resistance on the part of many customers when it's offered (I have no idea but I'm willing to bet that the majority of the people who eat Thom Liead Moo for breakfast at Chat Thai are people who grew up in Thailand.)

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Chat Thai in Sydney has a great breakfast menu. A dish called in English "Thom Liead Moo" - its menu description is a "pork sweetmeats and blood pudding in chicken consomme lightly seasoned with flash sauteed garlic, chinese celery, salted turnips, shallots and coriander" - has pork intenstines and other pieces of offal, as well as perfect squares of set blood similar to what I've often had in pho. It's a delicious dish. I'm sure that there's plenty of offal in Thai cuisine - but it's also very rare on Thai menus in Australia. 

My guess would be the reasons are a combination of the difficulty these days in sourcing offal in western countries like Austrralia, anticipated customer resistance on the part of the restaurant, and possible real resistance on the part of many customers when it's offered (I have no idea but I'm willing to bet that the majority of the people who eat Thom Liead Moo for breakfast at Chat Thai are people who grew up in Thailand.)

which area of Sydney is Chat Thai?? Sounds like it would be worth a visit!

thanks SD :smile:

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There are lots of offal dishes in Thailand. Or there are dishes that use offal as part of the dish. Mostly these dishes are found in regional cuisine like isaan, southern, or northern dishes, especially isaan. The restaurants found in the States mostly cater to Americans so you won't find those dishes here. They mainly serve dishes from the central region of Thailand and these are often higher end dishes. Offal in Thailand was a more poorer regional fare. If you know the owners or chefs of a particalar restaurant is from a different region then you may be able to order some dishes of offal that aren't on the menu. Though if you can't speak Thai I don't know if they would actually do it for you. If you are looking for a few dishes look for laap that uses offal or gwua thew rua (boat noodles literally). The boat noodles were always my favorite as the good places would squirt fresh blood in the broth at the last moment and contain lovely pieces of offal. Hmm.. yum.

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There are lots of offal dishes in Thailand. Or there are dishes that use offal as part of the dish. ... If you know the owners or chefs of a particalar restaurant is from a different region then you may be able to order some dishes of offal that aren't on the menu. ... boat noodles were always my favorite as the good places would squirt fresh blood in the broth at the last moment and contain lovely pieces of offal. Hmm.. yum.

Since all Thai food isn't necessarily spicy, some of the "dumbing down" for Western tastes involves avoiding other ingredients.

Around Bangkok, although rarely found in restaurants, there are many carts and stalls that specialize in guts.

Curdled blood is standard in many soups and other dishes.

As far as the States goes, even restaurants around LA's huge Thai population avoid the innards.

For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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Blood and guts, there's plenty of that in Thai food.

If you get to the hot pot places down off of Rama IV towards Klong Toey you can order plates of liver and odd bits to go into the broth for a quick splash. I'll look for some pictures once I finish some file transfers here.

As an aside, not technically Thai, but rather Lao, you'll find wonderful yams of raw pig intestines in the North East and Laos, and my favourite menu item was "deep fried virgin pig uterus" at a place in Pakse.

:smile:

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Blood and guts, there's plenty of that in Thai food.

As an aside, not technically Thai, but rather Lao, you'll find wonderful yams of raw pig intestines in the North East and Laos, and my favourite menu item was "deep fried virgin pig uterus" at a place in Pakse.

:smile:

Peter, I think I had that, but raw and sliced finely, did you see the pre-cooked item? was it white? and it tasted quite soft to eat...except that I was told it was not the uterus but something anatomically slightly lower,(use your imagination :smile: ) but there was a lot of laughing when they said what it was so maybe my leg was being pulled...

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and my favourite menu item was "deep fried virgin pig uterus" at a place in Pakse.

:smile:

Peter, I think I had that, but raw and sliced finely, did you see the pre-cooked item? was it white? and it tasted quite soft to eat...except that I was told it was not the uterus but something anatomically slightly lower,(use your imagination :smile: ) but there was a lot of laughing when they said what it was so maybe my leg was being pulled...

Alas, we only saw it in its "crispified" state (as Scud would say).

I took it on faith that it was uterus.

Although I did wonder how to tell if it was really a virgin.......... :wacko:

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and my favourite menu item was "deep fried virgin pig uterus" at a place in Pakse.

:smile:

Peter, I think I had that, but raw and sliced finely, did you see the pre-cooked item? was it white? and it tasted quite soft to eat...except that I was told it was not the uterus but something anatomically slightly lower,(use your imagination :smile: ) but there was a lot of laughing when they said what it was so maybe my leg was being pulled...

Alas, we only saw it in its "crispified" state (as Scud would say).

I took it on faith that it was uterus.

Although I did wonder how to tell if it was really a virgin.......... :wacko:

...was there a ring on one trotter?

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and my favourite menu item was "deep fried virgin pig uterus" at a place in Pakse.

:smile:

Peter, I think I had that, but raw and sliced finely, did you see the pre-cooked item? was it white? and it tasted quite soft to eat...except that I was told it was not the uterus but something anatomically slightly lower,(use your imagination :smile: ) but there was a lot of laughing when they said what it was so maybe my leg was being pulled...

Alas, we only saw it in its "crispified" state (as Scud would say).

I took it on faith that it was uterus.

Although I did wonder how to tell if it was really a virgin.......... :wacko:

...was there a ring on one trotter?

Maybe, but it might've just been trichynosis.

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I knew I had some shots of this.

These are from January 2007, when we were out to dinner with friends at their local over on Rama IV.

gallery_22892_3784_52956.jpg

The waitstaff always get nervous around me when I make jokes about Phii Bowb and order liver....

Could be worse, I could order for a phii kraseu.

gallery_22892_3784_56766.jpg

The food is taken hot pot style, working up the broth is as much fun as downing the solids.

gallery_22892_3784_50079.jpg

We had a good selection of tripe, liver, and other assorted variety meats.

gallery_22892_3784_65830.jpg

Not a bad feed for the four of us, and nary a phii to be seen (although it could've helped us with our lottery picks)....... :raz:

More on the offal topic when I get to the horumon meal in the Japan trip.

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I knew I had some shots of this.

These are from January 2007, when we were out to dinner with friends at their local over on Rama IV.

gallery_22892_3784_52956.jpg

The waitstaff always get nervous around me when I make jokes about Phii Bowb and order liver....

Could be worse, I could order for a phii kraseu.

gallery_22892_3784_56766.jpg

The food is taken hot pot style, working up the broth is as much fun as downing the solids.

gallery_22892_3784_50079.jpg

We had a good selection of tripe, liver, and other assorted variety meats.

gallery_22892_3784_65830.jpg

Not a bad feed for the four of us, and nary a phii to be seen (although it could've helped us with our lottery picks).......  :raz:

More on the offal topic when I get to the horumon meal in the Japan trip.

that's my sort of meal...sadly I find it impossible to get the sort of offal I want in these parts...and don't joke about ghosts, the kids used to be petrified of phii phret, not to mentiion various Chinese ghosts...alas they don't have the same effect now :smile:

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Damn. I don't remember ever getting a meal like that. I would have loved it!

Is Piii Bowb the one that lives in the banana tree? I've forgotten my piiis  :raz:

It's the one that comes in and eats you from the inside out, with a predeliction for liver.

There was an infestation in Khon Khaen a few years back that initially got my interest in Thai ghosts up and running. I always figured there was a great story in it, but I'm far too lazy to do real work.

Do ghosts eating humans count as food related? Or would that be off-topic?

:smile:

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The restaurants found in the States mostly cater to Americans so you won't find those dishes here.

That's unfortunate. Yet you can find at least 10 Chinese restaurants in Austin that have pork intestine and various other offal, and not a single Thai place with that. Why are the Thai places shy and the Chinese aren't?

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The restaurants found in the States mostly cater to Americans so you won't find those dishes here.

That's unfortunate. Yet you can find at least 10 Chinese restaurants in Austin that have pork intestine and various other offal, and not a single Thai place with that. Why are the Thai places shy and the Chinese aren't?

Hrm... I think there is a larger Chinese population here in the States so authentic dishes are readily consumed by that population and other Asians (and a few good foodies :wub: ). Thai food on the other hand caters more towards Americans as that is their predominate clientele. I am a little sad to hear you can't at least get some good offal dishes in ThaiTown LA (I'm not there enough to know). The only other places you may want to try is places that serve Laotian or is owned by Laotians. They are more likely to serve dishes with offal. I really doubt you'd be able to find a place that serves predominate offal dishes. You may want to try the Thai or Laotian markets if there is one in your area. In Iowa Tai Dum are prevelant so a couple of the markets have laab dip (which can contain some wonderful offal, rare beef, and blood) for sale if you ask the counter lady who is often the owner. I don't know what the Thai population is like in Austin so really couldn't tell you, sorry. It may also come down to who you know in that area that can direct you in the right place. I know we could get some dishes off menu at different restaurants because we knew the owner. If my Dad were still here he might know because he used to be part of the Thai restaurant network back in the '80s. I don't think he really knows the newer owners.

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We've talked about this a bit in some of the other columns on getting "authentic" cuisine. I'd agree with Oni. You need a certain critical mass that will ask for a dish before it'll show on the menus.

Korean food (as an example) in Vancouver is now dealing with enough of a Korean market (especially with the homestay kids) that you can now find blood based soups and grilled intestines. But I remember back in the 70's and early 80's having to drive down south of the border to the nearest U.S. military base to find it back then.

Let's face it, restaurants are a business, and you don't want to stock something you're probably not going to be able to sell. A cruel restauranteur may actually put the dishes on the menu so he looks good (and draws in customers) and then beg off with "it's out of stock" if someone tries to order it.

One thing that can work is, if you have a good relationship with a local Thai place, chat up the chef (particularly if she/he is from Isaan), have your list of dishes ready (in Thai or Lao, preferably) and then ask if you could special order. They might need a day or two to get the bits and pieces, but often they'll be tickled to do the things they like, rather than having to do things they know will sell.

Cheers,

Peter

P.S. - military base outskirts can be a great place for good food with the spouses that have come back from abroad with their husbands. Oil towns can also fit this bill.

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I'd agree with Oni. 

Oni? ONI?? :angry: Isn't Oni Japanese for ghost? Are you calling me a ghost?? :angry:

Hrm... I do have a craving for some liver.... nice bloody liver.... ACK!!!

:biggrin::laugh::raz:

"Demon" actually, isn't it? I was just reading (after posting with the unfortunate abbreviation *sorry*) that the graters with lots of teeth are called onioroshi (demon graters) in parts of Japan.

The more you learn :biggrin:

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