Thailand tour – Part One.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m back from the great Thailand Tour of 2019! For an idea of where we went, just see this post:

As I mentioned in the original post, we were risking our tour in rainy season. While this meant lower prices, it did mean that we may end up being confined to our hotels for long stretches while the skies emptied. We needed a good deal of luck to ensure our trip wasn’t a washout!

So, were we lucky? Yes… well… mostly. Here’s the first part of our Thailand Tour Diary!

If you read our previous blog you’ll know that we were visiting Bangkok first. And as you would expect, these first three days were typified by food (glorious food) and shopping.

Day one – land in Bangkok later afternoon and hurry to our relatively basic digs a 5 minute walk from Victory Monument. We got the Skytrain from the airport and after a perilous bit of traffic dodging, we found our hotel. We were jetlagged and very very tired, but didn’t want to waste an evening, so we had a little wander to Soi Rangnam and found a typical Thai cafe where we powered through a fantastic Som Tam salad each and a couple of bottles of Singha. Tiredness hit and we collapsed into our beds.

Day two – time for shopping!

My friend Nat had never been to Bangkok before, so she was eager to try some of its much vaunted shopping. And where better than the Pratunam area and in particular; Platinum Fashion Mall. How to describe this particular delight? Spread across 5 or 6 floors, PFM is a shopping experience unlike few others. Hundreds of clothing and accessories retailers/brands fill the various stores (more akin to market stalls) with their own creations (or those they’ve ripped off from elsewhere). It’s relatively cheap (despite the strong baht) and you can certainly find some incredible bargains. Nat filled her bags with around 10 tees and various dresses and skirts.

Arms full of bags, we jumped in a tuk tuk and had the usual terrifying ride tearing through traffic back to the hotel. Seriously, if you go to Bangkok and don’t risk your life in a tuk tuk, then you’ve missed a ‘treat’. Please note the apostrophes.

That evening we decided to treat ourselves to a pricier than usual Thai meal and ate next to the Chao Phraya river with the Wat Arun Temple illuminated on the opposite shore. Wow, what a view. I’ll share some photos another time, but take my word for it when I say it was the most atmospheric meal I’ve ever had. I resisted the urge for my normal choice of panang and chose a gaeng phed ped yang (red curry with duck basically). Just a stunning plate of food; typical red curry (fairly spicy, great use of kafir lime leaves, bags of coconutty richness, get in my belly).

We finished up and decided to have a late night trip to Khao San Road. But that can wait for my next post.

Thanks for reading! See you in a few days time.

Emil Jachmann xxx

Emil on Thailand Tour!

Well kids, I’m off to Thailand again in a few week! Lucky me right. Well, my friend Natalie and I are taking a risk as we’re going to the west coast of the country and potentially landing smack bang in rainy season.

Here’s where we’re going:

Bangkok – as ever, we’ll start the journey in the nation’s capital. With its smog, its humidity, its hustle, bustle, street food and shopping. In our 4 days in the city, I plan to show Natalie (a Thailand newbie) JJ market, Platinum Fashion Mall, the Grand Palace, a couple of night markets, chinatown and more. She loves shopping so this will form a big part of the trip.

From Bangkok we move on to…

Krabi… Railay in particular – so, we get a cheap short flight down the country, followed with a quick taxi to Ao Nang, followed by a longtail boat round the shoreline to Railay where we’ll stay for 5 nights. Hopefully we’ll get to do some relaxation, a bit of cliff climbing, feed some monkeys, run away from some monkeys and drink plenty of cocktails.

From Railay, we move on to…

Ao Nang – not quite as pretty as the previous few days, but it’s still Thailand so stunning regardless. And there’s more life here, so we’re entitling this part of the journey, the massage leg…. and massage back…. and massage feet…. massage neck and so on. In between eating copious amounts of street food at the night markets in the town, we’ll be enjoying some R&R.

From Ao Nang, we move on to…

Well, we move onto another night in Bangkok and then home! Not a bad trip right?

So, Thailand hive mind, do you have any recommendations for the various locations we’re visiting? Please please please pop them in the comments below and I look forward to updating you on the trip when I get back!

Sawadee Krap!

Emil Jachmann’s Tofu and Cauliflower Panang

It’s recipe time! And I’ll warn you now, it’s a bit of an unusual one. Also, this is Emil Jachmann’s recipe. It is not necessarily right but I think it makes a stunning curry and is always a crowd pleaser. Your prep/cooking time can be as little one hour and 15 minutes here. It’s a really simple little recipe that depends on your palate as much as anything. Be willing to taste it plenty as you go along and you can’t go wrong.

Forgive me, but I’m going to presumptuous and assume you’re a fan of Thai food, and as such you know what a panang curry is. So, I’ll avoid the minute detail, but will say this; it’s hot, peanuty, rich and fragrant with kafir lime leaves. Happy with that? Right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty… or should I say perhaps nutty grutty? No, I shouldn’t.

How authentic are you when it comes to your curry cooking? Everything made from scratch? Taught by a Thai lady in a Thai village? Look, what I’m trying to get at, is do you make your own paste or buy one in? I’m going to be a lazy ass chef here and go for the latter. If on the other hand you want to go that extra yard, here’s a great panang paste recipe for you:

On the other hand, if you want to buy one, then our household buys the Mae Ploy paste. It’s freely available throughout the states and my UK based pals inform me it’s popular over the pond too. So, here are your ingredients:

  • Panang curry paste (a standard red curry paste will do with some tweaks)
  • A large cauliflower
  • 200gms or so of Tofu
  • 2 cans of coconut milk (preferably one that separates – feel free to substitute one for a small can of coconut cream)
  • 500ml good vegetable stock (I actually like to use swiss vegetable bouillon as it gives a nice umami flavour that balances nicely)
  • 200 gms of mushrooms (your choice what type – chestnut works fine IMO)
  • 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
  • A handful of kafir lime leaves (this is generally something you can’t skip. If you must, then you’ll still get a tasty curry, but it just won’t taste the same)
  • Fish Sauce
  • A couple of stalks of lemongrass
  • A couple of birdseye chillies
  • A lime (or two)
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm sugar (light brown sugar suitable sub)
  • A bunch of fresh chopped coriander

    Optional veg/fruit to add at suitable points:
  • Pea aubergines
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Red bell pepper
  • Lychees (I had these in one little Bangkok restaurant an they were awesome… although hotter than the sun due to soaking up some sauce)

Please note – if you’re cooking a vegetarian or vegan option, then you’ll have to make your own paste without shrimp paste etc and sub the fish sauce for soy sauce.

Prep time! You’re going to be roasting that cauliflower to a nice nutty brown. Remove florets from the main stalk, cover in rapeseed oil and salt it liberally. Roast at a medium-high heat for around an hour. Just keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t char. Set it aside when it’s done.

You will of course have to prepare your tofu too. We want the firmer type for this curry, steer clear of the silken alternative. I recommend flouring it and shallow frying to give it some texture.

Right, lets get cooking the main event. Heat a lump of coconut oil in your wok and squeeze in a blob of paste. It’s your shout how much you want to use. Sadly, by using store bought you really have little control over the heat and flavor. If you add more, then you get more flavor (and color), but you also get a ton more heat. As suggested earlier, the key to any Thai curry for me is to taste taste taste (that goes for all cooking really); there’s always a balance to be found, but you may prefer a sweet curry, if so add more sugar. You may prefer it that bit more salty, If so, squeeze in more fish sauce. And so on. Taste it, then alter it to your preference.

Get that paste nicely fried off to release some flavor then add your coconut cream (which has separated in the can, or is simply store bought). Fry that off so you get a separation of coconut and oil. We’re going for a medium heat here. Add your tofu to the pan and fry a little longer. At this point, I like to add my stock (Emil Jachmann tip – use the separated water from the coconut milk to make your stock – more flavor right there). Next up, add your lime leaves, lemongrass, peanut butter, teaspoon of sugar and a good couple of squirts of fish sauce. Simmer for 20 mins or so. You want it to reduce a touch, but remember this is a Thai curry so it’s not dry and you want a lovely soupy texture in the bottom of the bowl.

TASTE IT! How’s it going? Flavours will develop, but trust your instinct if you want to tweak the balance.

Time to add your mushrooms and previously prepped cauliflower. This is a quick curry to make and doesn’t need to slow cook. There’s nothing to break down and while flavors can combine further, I prefer to have them a little bit more distinct. Oh, that’s sweet. Ooooo, there’s the lime leaves. Oooph, here comes the heat. If you want it to cook for longer, then don’t add your cauliflower yet. We’re not wanting it to break down to mush, nor really add to the overall flavor. Hold off until you’re 15 minutes from serving, then add it.

Are you ready to serve? Well, before you do, squeeze in those limes (again TASTE it as you do) and add the coriander. You’re done.

It goes without saying that it’s best served with sticky rice to soak up that lovely sauce. But that’s up to you; your access to glutinous rice and your patience for preparation.

Please please please share your feedback. I have no doubt that this can be improved on, so all advice is gladly appreciated. Oh, and next time I cook it, I’ll take a photo.

Thanks for reading – Emil Jachmann x

Passion for Thailand

I love Thailand. Not that you’d know it from this blog. I mean, it’s not like it’s covered with photos of Thailand. The odd bit of Thai here and there. Or numerous posts about Thai food.

What do I love about the place? You mean, apart from the people, the weather, the food, the language, the general culture? Very little *cough*

Here are my favourite places in the country…

Bangkok – sure it’s grey, humid, busy, somewhat smelly, smoggy and often difficult to navigate your way around, but I love the place. It’s got a real charm to it; from the people who live there and invariably greet you with a smile, to the street food that persist despite the government crackdown. From backpack central Khaosan Road where you’ll be hassled to go watch a questionable performance of table tennis, to madness of JJ Market with its clothes, pad thai and trays of puppies for sale. I love it all. Oh, and god bless the 7/11s adorning every street corner where you can pop in for a syruppy Red Bull and some air con!

Passion for food…

I love food; cooking it, eating it, reading about it, watching shows about it and in coming weeks and months, I’ll be bombarding you with recipes, photos, general thoughts.

Let’s use this first blog as a bit of an intro into my food passions!

So, as you will have seen from my other posts, I have a big love of Thailand in general, so it will come as no surprise to find out that I adore Thai cuisine too.

What about it do I love so much? Well, it ultimately comes down to the incredible balance of flavours and the four S’s…

  1. Sweet
  2. Salty
  3. Sour
  4. Spicy

Throw in a cheeky bit of umami from time to time, and you have absolute perfection. I love a burger as much as the next American, but give me a Duck Panang that makes you sweat 13lbs before you’re finished, and there’s no competition.

I love a good list, so let’s list some of my favourite Thai dishes

  • Som tam – an often searingly hot salad made with shredded fruit/veg such as green papaya or young mango. Plenty of chillis, a bit of sugar, lots of lime and a few squirts of fish sauce and you have your hot, sweet, sour and salty. BOOM.
  • Panang – keep your Indian curries, give me Thai every time. In this case, this is a rich wet curry made with a red curry base, plenty of kafir lime leaves and lots peanuts. My preference would be duck, but I’m just as happy to have no meat.
  • Tom Kha Gai – translated as chicken galangal soup, but better described as chicken coconut soup with galangal. This one is less sweet than it is sour and spicy, but still souper (ha) refreshing and… well… incredible. Almost medicinal galanga, rich coconut milk, hot chilli, refreshing lime, fragrant kafir lime…. GET IN MY BELLY.

So yeah, those are my top three, but believe me, they often alternate with other dishes. I’ll be adding my own recipes from time to time, so I please do check back from time to time to get some inspiration.

Much Love,

Emil Jachmann x

Branding by Emil

This is as dry as this blog is going to get. Apologies in advance.

Outside of my loves of food, beer, travel, soccer… and Harry Potter; my main squeeze is branding. From the creation of a logo, to the implentation of a consistent online strategy, I bore my friends and family on a daily basis.

Whether it be successes of brand campaigns like Apple, Nike and Google, or massive rebranding failures such as GAP, Kraft and… Cardiff City Football Club, I will talk your pants off for hours on end whether you want me to or not.

If you’re not interested in the slightest about branding and you’re just here for my favourite Red Curry recipe, then job on by these posts and I will forgive you entirely.

Oh, and if you want some assistance with your brand, then please do get in touch with me via the form on the contact page. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Much love,

Emil x