Shophouse is an architectural style often seen in South East Asian cities and towns in which the business is at the street level and the family quarters are in the back or upstairs. Business and family are only separated by thin cement walls and inevitably the two realms mix creating a unique retail experience. The retail experience that we are interested in is the dining and eating experience. To us, Thai cuisine is all about eating among the cacophony of family, friends, strangers and whoever happens to be nearby.

Friday, October 22, 2010

where to get quality fermented mud fish around here?

ปลาร้า the blue cheese of Thai cuisine
I'm not sure if Seattle is ready for the more pungent side of Thai cooking, but they are ready for some depth in flavor.
Half the fun of doing this Shophouse project is locating ingredients that either maintain the flavors of the motherland or contribute to the story that we are telling.
kaffir limes
We've found a fish sauce that we like. It's called Tra Chang - let me reference a post from our previous blog 86 seattle. Fortunately we brought back several litres of this fish sauce from Rayong, Thailand to keep us going. You can also buy it at the Viet Wah down on MLK.
We also have been lucky to find ingredients from the local business that are subtly important to Thai cooking like fresh kaffir limes. Apparently they get the limes from someone down in California, as the US won't allow imported kaffir limes. There is only one harvest a year and we jumped on it. Kaffir limes add an important citrusy bitter kick to curry pastes. The limes were so fresh and fragrant that I got some weird kind of hangover headache from peeling and smashing the limes. Or maybe I was just hungover, I don't remember.
More locally, we have also found some great finds. Oxbow farm out in Carnation sells their amazing cilantro root. I have never seen cilantro root like Oxbow's. I got in several fat bunches that completely permeated the walk-in cooler. We pound the fragrant cilantro roots in a mortar and pestle with garlic and peppercorns to complete this important trinity of Thai marinades for grilled meats. I'm not sure why the roots are cut off of cilantro bunches when you buy them in the store. This is just one of the mysteries of the produce business, like Why do they put those little stickers on the apples.
white gold from Oxbow
We've also become big fans of Mad Hatcher chickens. These chickens from Ephreta are always succulent. Further, we can get various sizes to fit our application, like medium sized for ข้าวมันไก่ khao mun gai or smaller for ไก่ย่าง gai yang.
Ok, I'm done talking up ingredients and going Thomas Keller on you all.


  1. Oooohhhh ... I've been dying to get my hands on kaffir limes! Thanks for telling me about

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