Over the past few weeks we’ve gone to a number of local markets – the diversity of vegetables, fruit, fish, dead and live animals and cooked dishes is amazing. It is a culinary whirlwind on the senses – flavors, sights and smells. Vendors are chopping, baking, grilling and frantically stirring to get dishes to awaiting customers. The diversity seems endless – there are so many different “priks” or sauces that one can use depending on the exact dish.
This is the first year fruit that is normally only available in large quantities during its “true” season has been available at most of the markets we’ve gone to. Piles of Mangosteens for less than a dollar a kilo, rambutans, langsat, rose apple and to a lesser extent longons. Longons when fresh are vibrant and full of sweetness – most longons you buy at Asian markets around the world are dead with lack of flavor and or the fruit has solidifed or was picked unripe prior to shipping. The smell of fresh ripe jackfruit being cut up and bagged is a treat – it has a tantalizingly aromatic scent.
The one fruit that you won’t find this time of year is lychees – this is one of my top 5 favorite fruits – it is a wonderful fruit that evolves in flavor, constantly changing depending on its age. April or May – so close now!
Fresh pink and white galanga root is all over the vegetable section. So tender you you can actually eat it in Tom Yum soups rather than spitting out the hairy tough detritus of its old and decrepit self at fake Thai restaurants around the world.
Here are a few photos from our visit to a large market in Kabinburi – Eastern Thailand plus our niece and her cousin who came with us to the market:
the wondernuts says
Can’t wait to visit the markets in Thailand! We’ll be there in about two weeks and I’m going to keep this in mind. =)
Awesome – have a great trip. You cannot beat the Thai markets 🙂
If you need more info about Thailand travel – happy to help. Also check out my Bangkok article here – written from lots of trips to the “city of angels” 🙂
Would love to haggle there! 😀
Teaching in Asia says
Amazing colors! I very much agree with Anthony Bourdain on the subject: traditional markets are the best place to see what’s good now. If you’re living abroad like I do, then I suppose it’s easier to hit the supermarket and pay the inflated prices for familiar ingredients. When I’m traveling, I love hitting markets like these. I actually started drooling when I saw the galangal/lemongrass/kafir lime bundles. In Taiwan, all I can ever find are the versions, which have the problem you mentioned: it’s like a piece of bark floating in my soup.
Thanks for the post! And for making me hungry. I think I’m going to have to go out and grab a snack after seeing this.
Yea – after reading your comment and being reminded of this post – I’m missing Thailand now and all its markets! I’ll be back later this year though! I would think you could grow kafir lime and lemon grass in Taiwan? Maybe not galangal as that might need a warmer all year round climate…not sure. Thanks for stopping by!
Simon Lee says
Dropping by for the first time.
The wet markets are the most authentic market in Asia in my opinion, although some markets are heading way too commercial (i.e. the floating markets), but it is still a good way to explore the locals lifestyle.
Hope to visit Thailand again soon!
Yea, the floating Taling Chan in Bangkok is still very authentic – only held on the weekends. Bangkok has some of Thailand’s largest markets of course but the country is full of markets outside of the city – some are very impressive, especially from a western perspective. So much diversity in cuisine 🙂