My Ruen’s Kua Kling (Crying tiger redux)

When travelling in a tasty country, it’s a sad event to waste stomach space on something subpar. It’s one thing to avoid the pizza stalls (thank you Ko Phi Phi), but how to tell a mediocre establishment from one that’ll make you happy you flew all that way over?
At least, in Thailand, the misses are only disappointing, and not costly.  I wish we’d had time to head to a night market, but with limited flight and ferry times, evenings often went to transit. Not wanting to be a slave to the guidebook, it’s nice to just sniff about and find things. Sometimes, though, “It’s late, they’re open, hungryyy” ends up being the deciding criteria.
My Ruen in Krabi was not one of those places. It came highly recommended by my Thai cooking teacher, and various other internet sources. Its sign is also only in Thai, no roman alphabet, so it’s a good thing we had their phone # so the cab could take us there.
Since we were only two people, we could only order so much.

Some interesting things to note here – the turmeric in the fish is actually fresh turmeric. I hadn’t ever eaten fresh, fried turmeric bits before, only pastes. It didn’t have the earthiness of dried turmeric, and had a texture like any other fried root vegetable. Fried whole fishies are great in any culture, head, bones and all. Yum.

The veggie plate is meant to go with the shrimp paste, but had a few surprises in it. Those purple globes had an odd texture, not crisp like a radish, but a little spongy, and the inside had white almost-seeds in them…because they’re actually baby eggplants! And the ginger slices are young galangal. Which, fresh, I think tastes way better than mature galangal. Totally happy to crunch down on those guys. Not fiery like ginger, but almost fragrant instead. Cucumber and green bean are as they appear. :)

Kua Kling - Note the dual spicy action


But the highlight was definitely the Kua Kling. Between the two of us, lots of rice, iced coffee, and one hour, we could only eat a third of this spicy beef dish. The thing had red chilis chopped up with the beef, slivers of kaffir lime leaf, and these especially zingy green peppercorns. Extremely, ah, flavorful.

After swallowing the first mouthful, I thought I was in decent shape. It was spicy, sure, but manageable. (More rice please). And then the true threat made itself clear as an insidious double burn started to make my eyes sting, no matter what other non-spicy things I tried to eat. I noticed the chili+peppercorn combo. Blinking to hide my watery state from the waitress, I asked for an iced coffee. As she returned with the coolant, I remembered the time my dad ordered a “crying tiger soup” at a Thai restaurant in LA. Clearly, this generation is meant to repeat the errors of the last.

The iced coffee comes with a ton of ice, meant to dilute the coffee/milk concentrate to human tolerable levels as it melts. Having failed to stop the burning with fried fish, and hold back the sniffles, I downed the concentrate in a few focused slurps.

Didn’t help at ALL.

Mild caffeine induced headache buzz + searing palate + tears (seriously) = at least I tried.

So. If you want to test “Thai spicy” out, you know what to do.

Nothing else we ate the whole trip even came close.

For want of a frying pan

As of this week, I’ve finally settled into an apartment in San Francisco’s Lower Haight, for the foreseeable future.  This makes me happy.  Despite the temporary absence of an internet connection, it would appear that some not-so-techie neighbor is kind enough to provide me with access to “linksys.” :)

On December 30th, I stopped by the new place (old to me – I’m taking over from a friend), to move things in.  I was only there for a few hours, but long enough to realize a problem.  That is to say, while I have a bread machine (which also makes mochi), a kitchen aid mixer, a hand mixer, a food scale, a rice cooker, a waffle iron, and a hot water pot…I have nothing with which to fry an egg or boil oatmeal.   (I know I have a George Foreman grill somewhere, but I haven’t found that box just yet.)

Now, we can get creative, sure.  I bet if I cracked an egg into the rice maker once the rice was done, and closed the lid…I’d have a nicely poached egg-on-rice in a few minutes. (Hmm…actually…).   Someone recommended that I try moffles and put an egg in between the waffle layers for a sandwich.   I guess I got rid of my 1 pot and 2 pans when I left the US last year?  And somehow accumulated a bunch of STUFF that can’t do a simple thing.

While my useless arsenal both amuses and slightly frustrates me, my friend is overjoyed.

C: no pots or pans?
C: u don’t have any?
me: Nope.
C: can i go pot shopping with u? :D
via online is okay too

C: wats ur budget? :D haha
mm u should prolly get a really nice chef’s knife and maybe paring
knife (tho i prefer nice chef, paring, and utility lknife)
maybe a few hundred for knives?
and depending on how many pots/pans u want…that could be kinda pricey…. :P

She went on, of course, listing pros and cons and sending links.  I’m glad she was typing, because I’m pretty sure if she was talking she wouldn’t have been stopping to breathe. Happily, I  can make use of her expertise online.  Post-Christmas, with this house hunting business, the last thing I want to do is have to do is enter a retail store.  Just so I can, you know, fry myself an egg.

Annnd…this story has a happy ending.  Having returned to the apartment just now, I realized the presence of the omnipotent Microwave.  Not the greatest, but a weird rice + spinach/onion + egg + cheese creation was nuked.  Could be tastier with cream/milk, but not bad for a handicapped dinner.  Sort of like a cross between quiche and doria.

New favorite snack


Dried scallop


Dried, smoked scallops = Individually packaged bites of delicious. 

Maybe better than cookies, even. 


If I had to choose between never getting another cookie, or never another scallop, hm…

I shall have to find more of each to properly address this question. ^__^

Oh, but then there are strawberries. Shucks, this is gonna be tough. 





One thing’s for sure though – THIS stuff, I can do without. (“Black vinegar + honey health drink”)  Big mistake, whoever invented that. Was feeling a little sick after sipping the whole box.  Not really healthy at all.