In Thailand, sharing food is part of the culture. If you head to any outdoor eating area or market, you will see people sharing either a Thai BBQ or Hot Pot. For travellers to Thailand, this may seem a bit daunting; either how to order or to eat.
First is the Thai BBQ or Moo Graathaa; the name literally means ‘pork pan’ in Thai, though often seafood, chicken or beef are also included. It resembles a combination of a Korean BBQ and a Chinese Hot Pot, with broth almost like a moat surrounding the domed grill plate. The Thai version is heated over charcoal, whereas in other parts of Asia, a small gas cylinder may be used. You are served a variety of sliced meats or seafood plus a raw egg on the same plate; the egg is mixed in with the proteins ready to go on the BBQ plate. A healthy serving of greens, vegetables and vermicelli noodles are also brought to the table; these go directly into the broth.
To round out the meal, several dipping sauces are served.
A piece of lard is then placed on top of the BBQ; this melts and prevents the proteins from sticking to the grill; plus it helps flavour the broth as it melts. Then it’s all up to you how long you grill the proteins. Wilt the greens and noodles and choose sauces to flavour the end result. The egg coats the outside of your chosen proteins and cooks right along with them, adding additional flavour and texture. When ready, ladle the broth into the small bowls and away you go. It’s a delicious meal that everyone can enjoy. You can choose different proteins to cook and grab more broth as required. It’s all about sharing and enjoying the activity of cooking at your table.
The second you will see is the Thai Hot Pot or Chim Chum; the name literally means ‘dip and drop’ in Thai. Chim means to ‘dip in’ while Chum means to ‘drop something briefly into liquid’. Chim Chum, or Jim Jum, is a popular Thai street food believed to have originated in Laos or Cambodia. It is traditionally made with chicken or pork, however seafood is very popular as well. Served with fresh herbs and cooked in broth in a small clay pot over charcoal.
The clay pot is brought to the table and filled with broth. When the broth is boiling, you add the vegetables, proteins, noodles and herbs. Again, a raw egg is mixed with the protein to add texture and flavour to the meat and broth. Remove each item as they are cooked and place in your bowl. Ladle in some broth
and flavour with the dipping sauces and eat. It is a very sociable way to eat and also one of the healthiest dishes you will find here in Thailand. I find that generally the broth is more flavoursome here in Thailand compared to those I have tried elsewhere in Asia. The addition of the spicy dipping sauces allows you to make the flavour ‘your own’ and is very suitable for the whole family; it’s healthy and delicious.