Mae Hong Son to Baan Rak Thai
We recently found ourselves back in Thailand, revitalising the taste buds and traveling around looking for new dishes, ingredients and techniques. Our travels began this time in Mae Hong Son, a remote mountainous province in the very north west. The whole town are early risers whilst the weather is pleasantly cool and misty. We were in search of food from the Shan people, an ethnic minority group found in Myanmar, China, Laos and Thailand. Their food closely resembles what is known as Northern Thai food today and helps to put together some of the Thai food history jigsaw. We found Shan versions of nahm prik ong (a relish made from tomatoes and soy bean paste), a version of miang (a one bite, intensely flavoured snack) made with pickled tea leaves and peanuts, and jin hom (a herbal pork meat ball). To name just a few!
From there we headed even further north to Bang Rak Thai, a tiny village on the border of Myanmar. When we arrived there was a group of about 6 people crunching and kneading mustard greens to pickle them down by the lake. There were some unique Thai-Chinese versions of dishes there like mu hong (a fried and then soy braised pork dish) which they were serving with pak kad dong (pickled mustard greens) and yum bai chaa (a local version a tea leaf salad with ground pork and tomatoes). Mu hong is now gracing som saa's menu with an array of pickled British and Asian goodies and plenty more to come off the back of this short but fulfilling trip.