Saturday, May 30, 2009

Yam Pla Duk Fu ยำปลาดุกฟู

FBF has decided to add some of his favorite recipes to The Hua Hin Pages. This is one of the first and thought it might be good to share it here first.

Yam Pla Duk Fu ยำปลาดุกฟู A Yam is a spicy salad and this one features crispy catfish.

This has got to be one of my favorite Thai dishes.

Americans really get into their Super Bowl Party foods like buffalo wings, jalapeno poppers, super nachos, pizza, etc. Many Thais would consider dishes like this Gap Glaem กับแกล้ม (I've never heard the "L" pronounced), or foods to be eaten along with alcohol. These include several different Yams, dancing shrimp, salted nuts, fried strips of beef or pork--finger food with a spicy kick is best.

Yam Pla Duk Fu is more of an Essan dish than central Thai but can found just about anywhere. It can be eaten as Gap Glaem or as one of the many dishes on the shared Thai table, along with rice.


1 grilled catfish (400-500 grams)
1/2 cup green mango, sliced into long thin slivers
2-3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
4 to 5 hot Thai peppers (mince a few for taste and slice the rest lengthwise for garnish)
1 teaspoon cilantro (optional or more, as garnish)
1/4 cup toasted peanuts (or cashews)
1/2 - 1 cup vegetable oil

A note on the fish:

Pla Duk ปลาดุก (Clarias batrachus) is known as the Walking Catfish in the US. You tend to see this fish in over-sized aquariums in doctors' waiting rooms or read about it causing traffic jams in Florida. This is not the catfish that some folks tend to associate with Collard Greens and Hush Puppies though that fish would probably work just as well though the texture is not quite as firm as Pla Duk.

You may be able to get Pla Duk in an Asian market in your area. If not, tilapia, cod, haddock or any other medium-firm textured fish fillets should work. Trout might be quite tasty.

The fish should also be cooked before frying. Either steam, grill, or bake it until it flakes into nice chunks. In Thailand, the Pla Duk is grilled and the meat removed before frying.

Once the fish is done, flake it into pieces (about the size of crab meat or maybe shredded wheat) and spread the chunks on a paper towel to cool.

In a small bowl, mix sugar, fish sauce, minced peppers and lime juice. Add the mangoes slices and shallots and mix well. Taste this as you add the ingredients. It should be sweet, sour, salty and spicy, and crunchy from the mango but this should soften in the mix but you should adjust the taste to your liking. Set the salad mix aside.

Frying the fish.

ฟู or Fu is Thai for fluffy. A freshly dried and combed French Poodle is Fu-Fu. As our fish has already been cooked, all we're doing here is putting the Fu in the Pla Duk Fu. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat until hot. You don't need to fry the fish too long, just long enough to get it crispy and golden brown; just a minute or two. Once crispy and golden brown, remove from the oil and place on a grill rack or paper towels to remove the excess oil.

Add the peanuts to the salad mix and mix it all up. Normally, the head and tail of the catfish are placed on opposite ends of the serving dish and the Fu'd up fish meat is placed in the middle with the sliced peppers and cilantro placed on top. It makes a nice presentation but you can skip this is you don't like to look what you're eating in the eyes. The salad is usually served in a separate bowl, similar to the way BBQ and sauce are served in Texas. Some folks pour the salad mix over the fish and then mix all the ingredients together. Others place a nice chunk of fish on their plate, then spoon a bit of the salad mix on top and then eat, with rice, or not. Mixing it all together can reduce the crispness of the fish if you eat slow but that's not a problem in my house as it all disappears in a matter of minutes.

As said, I really like this dish. I hope you do. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave me a note.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 8:18 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paradise North and South of The Paradise We Call Home

It's strange when you live in one of the best beach resorts in Thailand and you never go to the beach. That is, the beach in Hua Hin. We've been to the beach at least a half dozen times in the past couple of weeks but I can't remember the last time I went to a beach in Hua Hin.

It's not that there aren't nice beaches in Hua Hin. There are, in spots, but unless you're staying in an expensive hotel and can walk from your room, you're lucky to find a parking place within several hundred meters and that can get messy if you've got kids, beach toys, bags for dry clothes, bags for wet clothes, etc.

We've been to Dolphin Bay twice this month which I really like, and Cha Am more often than that, which the in-laws like. I like Pu Noi Beach at Dolphin Bay because there's no one there. It's a beautiful bay that I was first introduced to a few years ago for a bike ride. It's great for biking as there's little traffic the entire length of the four or five km bay and there are islands and fishing boats on the water side and an arc of small hills off in the distance on the beach side.

We had been to Dolphin Bay a few times over the years, mainly for biking, but had never stayed overnight. Decided it was time to get out of Dodge for more than just a few hours a couple of weeks ago and saw an interesting place to stay on the net that looked like it was worth a try.

There are places down there that charge 80,000 Baht a night for a 2 bedroom suite during the high season and those that would probably sell you 50% of their joint for that kind of money. We stayed in one closer to the lower end and it was quite nice. Fifty meters from the beach, hot water, air, Wi-Fi, breakfast, all the essential Thai channels on TV and free use of their sea kayaks.

I was pretty much in heaven. I appreciated the internet access and the quiet beach and available seafood. FBF Jr. loved the sand, the mud, the hermit crabs and just about everything but the puppies hanging out at the bungalows. The other half actually liked the sea kayaks. We did a little spin the first afternoon and then went out to one of the islands the next morning. There are no banana boats, jet skis, or even that many swimmers so you just paddle along with no fear of getting hit or hitting anything. The water is so shallow that only Ira Hayes or one of his Bintabaht counterparts would have to worry about drowning.

Took the in-laws down this past weekend and they were bored silly. When you live in Nakhon Nowhere, I guess a beach in Nakhon Nowhere is just too much like home, albeit with water.

They like Cha Am. Noise, beach chairs, umbrellas, banana boats, lots of people, more noise, food--heaven in spades. You want Somtom, got it; you want fresh crab, got it; gai yang, got it; and you don't even have to get up. Even better that Pizza Hut 'cuz you don't even have to make a phone call, just wave your hand and someone's there to take your order.

FBF even likes Cha Am on week days. You park where you sit. You can take the kitchen sink with you and it's there in the car if you need it. No humping gear all over creation and no worries about some itinerant taxi driver keying your car because you had the nerve to take his parking place.

So, if you need to get out of town (the Jazz Festival is only a couple of weeks away) for a few hours or a couple of days, there are nice places within a short drive. Cha Am won't change that much in the near future but Pranburi will. There are already pale face real estate agents working the bungalows offering deals. Really bizarre, there are no ladies offering massages on the beach, no ponies to ride but we ran into two different Farang real estate agents. Go there while you can but please don't go where I go.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 9:22 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Satukarn Square

Anyone know what's going on at Satukarn Sqaure?  Drove by today and saw what looked like they were taking the whole place down. Are we in for for another condo or perhaps a parking lot?

Also, the sign in front of what used to be the Red Cross office accross the street talks about an OTOPS office rather than Immigration.  Oh, well...

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 10:06 PM   3 Comments Links to this post

More On Using Google Earth with a GPS Device Part II

Though it's probably still not the hottest story in Hua Hin, I see that there is interest elsewhere about getting GPS Devices and Google Earth working together so I will add a little more based on some recent experience.

We did a little road trip last week and though I didn't use the laptop and Google Earth in realtime, I did make use of the caching capabilities of GA and a utility I found called Google Earth Voyager 6.0.

GEV allows one to fairly painlessly create a cache of the area one intends to travel through. It does this by taking advantage of the Touring/Fly To option in Google Earth. As everything you see on your screen in GE is cached by GE, GE Voyager enables you to create a rectangle of the area you want to cache AND set a level of resolution of your cache. This is done with a combination of altitude, speed, and distance between points. If you want very rich detail, you'll need to set a low altitude, a small distance between points, and a slower speed for the flyover. The speed of the flyover is also dependent on the speed of your internet connection--if you have low bandwidth, you may not be able to download the detail needed in the time allotted so you may need to give it more time. Once you've entered the parameters, GEV has GE fly, or more aptly, bounce over the grid you've outlined. It's sorta interesting to watch at first though with a large rectangle you'll get quickly bored and can go back to more interesting pursuits as GEV does its thing in the background. Rather than make a short story anymore endless and painful, GEV comes with good docs so it won't take you long at all to start building up your cache sets.

One more thing on GEV and GE before we get back to the road trip. Though GE is fairly effecient in its caching, you can fill up that 2Gb limit but that's not difficult to take care of.  GE uses two files for the cache. The cache is dbCache.dat and its index is dbCache.dat.index. These two files are found in the
C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAMEHERE\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\GoogleEarth directory though your mileage may vary a little. Should you reach the 2Gb limit caching say, Hua Hin, you simply rename those two files so you know they contain the cache for Hua Hin and then create new cache files for Korat or Pattaya, or whatever.

OK, a little about the road trip. I didn't expect to be able to do any realtime Google Earth and didn't expect much internet connectivity once we stopped and I was pretty much correct on both counts. However, due to a nice cache created by GEV before we left, once stopped, I was able to load the tracks of the days' travels from the GPS to the computer and get a bird's eye view of what we'd done in GE, even though I wasn't on line. Now, if only GPSMapEdit and Google Earth used the same cache, I'd be able to make maps easier during the down time on the road.

Part I is here.

If anyone has anything to add to this post or the previous concerning any tips I may not be aware of, I'd appreciate hearing about them.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 1:28 PM   1 Comments Links to this post

A Few More Maps of Places in Thailand

With a house full of folks and the accompanying interruptions, sometimes it's easier to do maps rather than write anything. Also, as we recently returned from a little jaunt to Khon Kaen, Korat,  Pak Chong and Kanchanuburi, I had some new tracks on the GPS to add.

So, The Map Page has a few new Google Maps, including the floating market at Amphawa and the sandbar at Don Hoi Lot in Samut Songkhram, Pranburi and Dolphin Bay to the south, and Korat and Khon Kaen. As always, these maps are under construction and if anyone knows of any POIs to add or remove, please let me know.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 9:05 AM   0 Comments Links to this post

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hua Hin's Baja Taco Nixes Noon Again

Baja Taco has closed for lunch again. They now open at 4:00 in the afternoon. I realize that most of Fred's trade is from tourists in the evening and they enjoy walking through the bustle of the Night Market. However, for those of us who live a few klicks away from town, it's hard enough to find a parking place near Baja Taco during the day and fighting the crowds at night after parking a few blocks away just might not be worth it.

Should Baja Taco re-open for the lunch time trade again, I hope someone will let FBF know as he misses Fred's tasty burritos.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 1:16 PM   0 Comments Links to this post