Friday, February 6, 2009

Tom Yum Poong Plah (Thai Fish Maw Soup)

My dinner Thursday night!

Below you see "Plah Deuk Foo"...shredded and deep fried catfish. Properly prepared, it's not nearly as greasy as you'd expect. It's standard fare. Often, it's served with mango yum, which cuts through the oiliness. This time, though, there's a kind of curry sauce. A nasty, cheesy aroma wafted off it. They actually added milk to the sauce...a bit unusual in the country where the populace has the lowest lactose tolerance in the world.

The next course is "Yum Gorp". Chilis, spices, and frogs! The blackish blobs are the frogs. In a Thai restaurant in the USA, where the waiter might ask you to specify your spice-tolerance on a scale of 1-10, this would rank 100.

Next is "Gratai Put Pet". Rabbit. The green spheres are fresh black peppers.

Take a moment to grok that pic. It appears primed to spontaneously ignite. I've been here long enough to derive honest masochistic pleasure from extreme spiciness; nevertheless, it would be nice to actually experience the rabbitness of that rabbit. You can slosh some beer around in your palate and launder the remains of the critter, but it won't help much.

Here's the real treat. It looks innocent enough as it's placed on the table....

But there are some jewels under the placid surface...

Tom Yum Poong Plah...Thai Fish Maw Soup (ต้มยำพุงปลา). That veined, maggoty entity is an egg sack. I think.

Just to be sure, we asked the waiter if everything in that bowl was edible. "Mai mee kee", he said ("no have shit"). Reassured, we dug in.

For foreigners who straddle the border between novelty-seeking and health concerns, Thais almost always remove the shit from the fish they serve. The exception would be small fish, where the diner must perform the "shit-ectomy" with fork and spoon.

It's not subtle. It's not French cuisine. But it IS gamy, spicy (to an extreme, if you're unaccustomed), complex, and intense. You sweat and drink beer at a high flow rate. It's hard to imagine legally available food products eliciting more sensation per neuron.

It would be all the more amazing accompanied with, say, some trance-inducing "Mor Laem" music. But, of course, management sees the farang enter the joint and promptly whips out a selection of Abba and Carpenters tunes. Oh well.


I just showed these pics to a Philippino friend. She then proceeds to tell me about cow testicle/penis soup. Apparently, you simply ask for "Soup Number 5", and everybody knows what you're talking about. Of course, it's supposed to increase virility. Sometimes they even throw in a sea cucumber for extra phallicity. Are there any dishes that perform the opposite function? Boiled eggplant?


On second thought, maybe the choice of music wasn't entirely inappropriate.

1 comment:

BridgetoRussian said...

wow - thats all I can say is WOW! I am all for trying new things but this is too much! = (

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