Off Topic: Thai Buffalo Feta Cheese

2012 05 16 thai buffalo feta

Anasuya (my foodie wife) and Austin (my foodie pal) and I have wondered many times:

Since Thailand is home to so many buffalo, when will cheese-loving foreign and Thai consumers be able to purchase buffalo mozzarella?

Turns out, as a 2008 DPA story says, various Thai companies have been producing local cheeses for several years. But I’d never seen Thai buffalo mozzarella in stores.

To my great astonishment, Anasuya recently brought home the packages pictured above.

That’s right — it’s not buffalo mozzarella, but buffalo feta. I’ll take it.

Anasuya purchased the items at a central Bangkok outpost of the famed Aw Taw Kaw (Or Tor Kor) market.

I did a little poking around online, and I’d forgotten about this WSJ Scene Asia story last year about Thai buffalo feta.

The piece says that the Thai king’s Royal Project group has been tinkering with various buffalo products for around five years. And, the story notes:

Today, there are 24 female Mehsana water buffalo, an Indian breed named after the western district from which they come, and they produce six to eight kilograms of milk a day each. That is used to make the aforementioned feta, and yogurt and mozzarella — all branded under the name Bubalos.

Last year, sales of the water-buffalo milk products topped 500,000 Thai baht (US$16,229). At local markets, a 200-gram block of Bubalos feta costs 145 baht (US$5)

Indeed, we are now in possession of the Bubalos feta product. We haven’t tried it yet, but I have high hopes.

It’s nice to see an epicurean dream come to fruition.


Coming soon to a (Chinese) market near you: Malaysian durians

2011 05 25 durian

The AP reports that Malaysia is set to begin exporting durians to mainland China, “challenging Thailand’s virtual monopoly on shipments of the spiky, stinky delicacy that many Southeast Asians hail as ‘the king of fruits'”:

The breakthrough Tuesday for Malaysia’s durian growers comes after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Kuala Lumpur last month and formally agreed to allow the entry of Malaysian durians, which some fans insist are deliciously creamier and more aromatic than Thai-grown ones.

Read the whole thing. Fascinating stuff.

(Via 2Bangkok. Image via Wikipedia.)


DinTaiFung opens in Bangkok

2011 05 10 dintaifung

Xiaolongbao fans, take note: A branch of the Taiwanese restaurant DinTaiFung has opened here in Bangkok. The blog SixSix2 has a few photos and reports:

You can find it on the 7th floor at Central World right next to AKA restaurant. It’s hard to miss


NYT on fermented fish dishes and cancer in Isaan

A New York Times story from yesterday:

In Thailand, Love of Food Carries Deadly Risks

LAWA, THAILAND — The villagers in this poverty-stricken farming community are passionate about their food, especially the traditional varieties of fermented fish that one aficionado describes as tasting like heaven but smelling like hell.

It can be a fatal attraction, medical researchers say. The raw fish that is so avidly consumed in the stilt houses that sit among rice paddies and wetlands of the country’s northern provinces contain parasites that can accumulate in the liver and lead to a deadly cancer. Known as bile duct cancer, it is relatively uncommon in most parts of the world but represents the majority of the 70 liver cancer deaths a day in Thailand, according to Dr. Banchob Sripa, the head of the tropical disease research laboratory at nearby Khon Kaen University.


Thai students pay to get fast food jobs in the US

Some snips from an interesting Global Post story: “McDreaming in Thailand

The girls bunked three-deep in a run-down Best Value Inn room, each of them far from home and earning minimum wage at the McDonald’s franchise inside Pittsburgh International Airport.

Jiratchaya Intarakhumwong and her friends — law, English and business students at some of Thailand’s most elite universities — had adopted an immigrant’s life.

Jiratchaya would wake before the first light, don her McDonald’s uniform in cramped quarters and catch a shuttle bus to the airport. The morning shift began at 6 a.m.

The days were long, the work was repetitive and customers sometimes grew impatient with her sparse English. But after her tour was over, she arrived back in Bangkok with a highly sought after bullet point on her resume: foreign work experience.

This summer, thousands of young Thais will replicate Jiratchaya’s experience in America, piling into cheap hotels and apartments to work jobs often left to poor Americans and immigrants with few options.

The Thai students, however, will actually pay for the privilege of frying burgers and bagging fries.

This phenomenon is known as “work trah-VUHL” in Thai. It’s fueled by Bangkok’s upper-middle class families, who pay work travel agencies upwards of $3,000 — a small fortune in Thai currency — to arrange fast food jobs in America. And it’s a testament to Thai employers’ high regard for American work experience, even if that experience consists of ringing up Big Macs.


In the highly competitive post-college job circuit, a stint abroad shows initiative. Even former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra once worked at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the U.S.


Audio slide show: photojournalists on memorable meals

Don’t miss this audio slide show from the New Yorker: “Tea and Wallaby: Photojournalists talk about memorable on-the-job meals.

(Via World Hum.)

The Next Sushi

The Next Sushi

Speaking of food, now that sushi has been globalized, GOOD Magazine asks: which regional dish will become the new new thing? I vote for mangosteens. Or bibimbap. Or dosas.

(Via World Hum.)

Austin Bush on an Extraordinary Seafood Joint in Koh Samui

Koh Samui Seafood [Not My Image]

Thailand expert/foodie photog Austin Bush has this to say about Bangpo Seafood, located on the northern coast of Koh Samui:

Throwing around superlatives can be a scary thing, but I think I’m justified in this case. I’ve been to many, many restaurants in Thailand, and have eaten some pretty amazing food, but Bangpo Seafood particularly stands out in my mind. I knew something was special about it after my first visit over a year ago, and wrote quite a few good things about it, but have always been keen to go back and see if the restaurant was really was as good as I thought.

Well, after two recent visits, my initial impression was right, and I think Bangpo Seafood just might be my favourite restaurant in Thailand.

Now that’s saying something.

(Emphasis mine.) Image credit: Austin’s complete photoset.

Bangkok Street Food

The New York Times recently ran a travel story by Joshua Kurlantzick about Bangkok street food. Austin’s phenomenal blog Real Thai gets a deserved mention, and I’m not just saying that because he gave me shout-out today due to our mutual love of all things waffle-related (i.e. the infamous Thai waffle-coated hot dog that I scarfed down in Kanchanaburi).

From the NYT piece:

…After culling through Thai food Web sites, I often arrive in Bangkok carrying a list of street dishes I must try — unripe mangoes dipped in sweet chili sauce, charcoal-grilled fish sausages, tacolike shells filled with shredded coconut. Every time I mention my list, real Thai gourmets tell me noodles, the ultimate quick snack, should be the real test of any street stall.

“Noodles are one of the great Thai secular religions,” wrote the longtime Thailand food critic Ung-aang Talay, adding that Thais think nothing of plodding across Bangkok to sample a new dish. Nearly every street in Bangkok has a vendor selling thin, slightly sweet egg noodles; wide, chewy rice noodles; pad Thai topped in gooey omelets. Even, occasionally, the northern Thailand noodle specialty known as khao soi. As the Thailand food blogger Austin Bush has suggested on his knowledgeable site — — khao soi reflects the many foreign influences on Thailand cuisine. Khao soi blends egg noodles with a mild, Indian-style broth and toppings of crispy noodles, shallots and pickled cabbage, a Burmese touch that adds an acidic flavor cutting the rich, oily curry.

There’s also a slide show of images by Josef Polleross that’s worth checking out.

French-Fry Encrusted Hot Dogs in Korea: Redux

French Fry Coated Hot Dogs in Korea [Not My Image]

Phil, author of the fantastic Cambodian food blog Phenomenon, has turned his attention to Asian food in general with a new site called The Last Appetite. And I’m pleased to see that my musings regarding the French fry-encrusted hot dogs I encountered in Korea have inspired him to do a little more digging. Don’t miss his post called “Korea: French fry-coated hot dog”:

After first witnessing this monstrosity on Newley Purnell’s site, I thought that chasing it down would be difficult. That it would be the type of food that only demented South Korean carnies sold for a scant few days of a State Fair until their consumers ended up in the waiting queue for a heart bypass. The taste is about as obvious as it looks: greasy but still crispy fries glued to a hotdog with a thick, neutral batter…

It turns out that Seoul is packed full of artisan hot dog vendors. Vendors wrap them in bacon, mashed potato, corn batter or what looked to be seaweed then invariably deep fry them. I spotted three french fry-coated hotdog vendors in the narrow alleys of Myeong dong alone and a few more in the neighbouring Namdaemun Market…

(Emphasis mine.) Read the whole thing.