Appon's Thai Food Recipes

Thai Vegetables - Thai Recipes

Dried Shitake Mushrooms (Hed Hom Hang)

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A common ingredient of Thai soups, this is a chinese mushroom 5-8 cms diameter, that is widely used across Asia. The easiest way of buying and keeping this mushroom is dried and they are available in many western supermarkets.

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Small Green Aubergine - Pea Aubergine ( Makua Puang )

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This vegetable is like a harder large pea and has a very similar flavour. It is used in dishes such as 'Gak Khiewwan Kai' (Green mince curry) to add green colour and an interesting texture to the dish.

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Coriander Leaves - Cilantro (Pak Chee)

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A common ingredient in Thai cooking, the Thais use the leaves of the coriander plant much more than ground coriander seeds. Americans refer to the leaves as 'cilantro' and seeds as 'coriander', but in Thailand the words are the same and the plant has only one name. Throughout this site we refer to the plant as coriander, the leaves as coriander leaves and the seeds as coriander seeds. If in doubt its the leaves (cilantro)! In the above photograph, each leave is approximate 2cms across.

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Bamboo Shoots (Naw My)

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There are two types of bamboo commonly used in Thai cooking, bamboo shoots in water and pickled bamboo slices in vinegar. Either way the only part of the bamboo that is used are the soft shoots. Bamboo can be bought in cans at any Thai or Chinese grocer, either sliced or whole.

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Thai Green 'Winged' Beans (Tua Puu)

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These Thai greens beans have a different appearance but a similar taste to long green beans. If you can't find the Thai beans use long green beans. They are eaten raw with spicy sauce, or sometimes steamed or par-boiled.

Cassava Root (Man Sam Palang)

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This tuberous root vegetable is widely available in Asia, grown in the east & north east of Thailand (in provinces such as Buri Ram) because, unlike rice, it does not require lots of water. It has a hard brown outer layer and a white or yellow flesh, only the cooked flesh is used. It is also known as Yuca or sometimes Tapioca root.

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Thai Oranges (Som)

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I thought you might like to see what Thai oranges look like. They have a sweet orange taste, but the skin is very much thinner, green, and easier to peel, a sort of larger mandarine variety. For any recipe that requires a Thai orange, you can substitute any sweet orange, the taste it the same.

Chinese Radish, Nabo ( Hua Chi Tau )

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This large white Chinese radish is used to make soups and stocks in Thailand. Shown here next to a carrot and some garlic.

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Rovellon Mushrooms ( Hed )

Rovellons (Mushrooms)

These are rovellon mushrooms, they're very common in Southern Europe, they have a soft spongy, almost jelly like texture. To clean them crush off any dirt or grass that sticks to them before cooking. Don't rinse them, and don't freeze them, they are too soft to survive freezing. You can make a soup and store that in the fridge if you don't want to eat them right away.

Soya Bean Shoots ( Tua Gnog )

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Fresh beansprouts (shoots of the mung bean) may not sound very exciting, but the freshness can really improve a stir-fry dish. Here's how to grow them from the soya beans you can buy in the grocers. It takes 3-5 days at normal room temperature, so it's very easy and quick to do.
In the photograph below you can see the soya beans, with the grown soya shoots in the middle and some shoots on the right with the seed head and root removed. You can eat all of the shoot, seed head and root included.

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Taro Roots ( Puek )

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Taro is a root vegetable used in Asian cooking in desserts and as a snack. It is starchy, similar to many other starchy roots such as Cassava and if the recipe calls for Taro, you can often substitute Cassava.

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Cha Om

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This green vegetable grows in central Thailand and is practically a weed. It has a very strong sulfur smell, thankfully when it's cooked the sulfur smell disappears. It's commonly eaten cooked in omelettes, and also boiled or steamed as a dipping vegetable with spicy chilli dip. Keep in the fridge and it can last about 2 weeks, eat only the soft tops of the stalks, not the woody lower parts.

Sa Doa

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This is a bitter shoot from a tree, eaten steamed or boiled, with chilli paste sauce.

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Pak Nork

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This is eaten fresh as a salad vegetable. It grows next to water and is typically found in wet lands. When a recipe calls for salad vegetables, this is often one of the salad vegetables we would serve in Thailand.

Makhuea Pra (Thai Aubergine)

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Thailand has many many aubergines, this plant is seasonal, grows about knee height, and the aubergines are 4-5cms across.

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Doc Kae

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This is the bitter unopened flower of a tree, used in sour curry soups, or steamed and eaten with chilli paste. Each one is approximately 7-8 cms in length.

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Small White Aubergine, Egg Plant ( Makhuea Kow )

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Another Thai aubergine, the 'white' aubergine, this one is smaller (approx 3cms in length) and is better to eat raw than green & black aubergines. Each raw with chilli paste.

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Thai Bitter Melon ( Ma Ra Koom )

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This Thai melon can be easily recognised from it's gnarled surface, it has a bitter taste and is used to add a bitter note to soups with meat. When cooking with it, scoop out the seeds and pith from the centre.

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Bi Tua Reeds ( Bi Tua Horm )

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These reed like leaves are 1 to 2 feet long (about 60cms) and grow pretty much everywhere there is a hot climate. We use them for their flower scent (very rose like) and to create a natural green colouring for foods.

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Banana Leaves ( Bi Tong )

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Banana leaves are very common item in Thai cooking. They can be bought frozen from Asian supermarkets and in some places fresh. A common misconception is that they have a banana smell, they do not - they smell like leaves! The reason we use them is not for the smell, but because they are waxy, so food is easy to remove from the leaves. They are also natural and organic, so no waste and also they look good for presenting food.

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Baby Corn ( Koa Prood On )

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A common ingredient worldwide, this is how baby corn is presented in Thailand - with some of the outer husk left attached. We eat them raw with chilli paste, or steam them, use them in soups, stirfrys and many other recipes.

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Kanah (Broccoli Leaves)

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We eat these as a salad vegetable, like a bitter lettuce. It is from the same family as broccoli and if you can't get hold of them, use either broccoli leaves or a bitter lettuce.

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Kelp Seaweed ( Sarai Talay )

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An unusual ingredient, and a good source of iodine and some minerals. The taste though leaves a lot to be desired and so it's best to use it in salads and stir fry dishes rather than eat it directly.

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Palm Seed Hearts ( Look Chit )

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Palm seeds are served in a sweet syrup and eaten in desserts. As you can see from the photograph, they're clear which makes them extremely difficult to photograph and virtually invisible when in water. The seeds in the photograph are 1-2 cms in length each.

Ton Ho Chai

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This is actually a Chinese (not Thai) leaf vegetable similar to Pak Choi, the taste is slightly more bitter and the leaves are smaller and more serrated. It is good for stir frys.

Preservation
This green leaf vegetable wilts easily. Clean it, leave it standing in water to recover, then dry it and keep it in the fridge and it lasts several days without wilting.

Sliced Palm Seeds ( Look Tan Nam Churm )

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Palm seeds have a natural sweetness and can be bought in tins very easily from Asian grocers and supermarkets. They are normally sold in heavy syrup, as long as you keep the tin covered in the fridge, and enough syrup to cover the seeds, they can be kept for 2 months.
In the photograph above you can see sliced palm seeds, and a tin shown on the right.

Pak Choi ( Puk Gaung Toung )

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Pak Choi (Bok Choi in some pronunciations) is a Chinese green leaf cabbage used in stir fry dishes. The great thing about Pak Choi is the broad stems can be used just like the leaves. Keep in the fridge in the vegetable tray, like that they'll keep for a week or so.

Preserved Mango ( Mamorng Gurn + Mamurng Cha Eim + Mamurng Dong )

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Mango is one of our most commonly eaten fruits, and naturally we have many ways of preserving it.

At the left are Mango rollups, these are thin slices of mango preserved in salt and sugar. At the right is salted mango strips. The salting draws our the water causing shrinkage, but these are nice to eat as a gop-gam dish, a snack to eat with beer or wine. At the top are pieces of preserve dried mango.

Pickled Limes ( Manow Dorng )

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We use the juice as a flavouring in some dishes, and also add the lemons to boiled dishes. Cheap cuts of pork can have a 'old' smell about them, and we use pickled lemons to take away that smell. When adding these pickled green lemons (or limes if you prefer to call them that), to boiled dishes, it is important to only boil them for 5 minutes or so. Any longer and the lemon will break open, making the stock bitter. You don't want the lime to open, only whole limes should be used in stocks.

Guava Fruit (Farang)

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One of my favorite things is fresh cold guava juice made by my own hands from ripe guava fruit. In the photograph you can see whole green guava, together with peeled and halved guava.

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Sala (Sa La)

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Sala has a fibrous center with a complex flavour, I'm told it tastes of sherry trifle with slightly bitters notes next to the sweetness. If you want to try one Thai fruit this is the one I'd go for.
Sala also forms the basis for many cream soda drinks including Hales Blu Boy.

Mangosteen ( Mang-koot )

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Mangosteens are a pithy not very sweet soft fruit the size of an apple. To open cut around the middle and twist. When they're freshly cut the pith is bright red, you eat the white centre, discarding any stones. We call this the 'Queen' of fruit. (The King of Fruits is Durian).

Durian

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Called the 'King of Fruit', durian are large (40cm long) hard spiky fruit with a pulply flesh inside. They are supposed to have a stink and you'll sometimes see 'No Durian' signs in the hotels, but that's something of an exaggeration. The smell is very mild when compared to old fish sauce for example and is reminiscent of, well flatulence.
You split the outer case with a large cleaver, break it open and inside in pockets you'll find a soft pulpy flesh wrapped around large stones (shown below), this is the part you eat. The flavour is complex with some sweet and some bitter notes.

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Dragon Fruit ( Gow-mung-gone )

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Dragon fruit have distinctive red orange leaves that look like flames. You can see this in the photograph, inside they have the edible white pulpy middle with many small black seeds. It's slightly sweet, the pulp texture means it's quite easy to scoop it out with a spoon to eat.
These look amazing as a garnish, but I maintain the Thai fruit to taste is Sala.

Plum Mango, Gandaria ( Mapraang )

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If you think of the taste of an yellow sweet plum and that's about right for the taste and texture of this fruit. Clean it carefully with clean water and you can eat the skin like other plums, but in Thailand we always wash the outside of fruit we buy with drinking water. In the photograph I've removed some of the skin on one so you can see texture inside.

Sour Preserved Thai 'Plums' ( Ma Dan Dong )

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These are similar to sour plums, and eaten in Thailand as a snack with sugar and chilli. They come from the center of Thailand. As you often find with Thai food it is a mixture of 3 flavours, the sourness of the plums, eaten with a mixture of sugar and chilli with a pinch of salt.


Toddy Palm, Luk-Tans

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Each fruit above is about 10-12cm across, they have inside a fibrous jelly like texture, this is the flesh you eat. They taste slightly sweet, but no strong flavours.
You can also find toddy palm juice, which is a sweet palm sugar drink made from tree sap. That is drunk warm and fresh.
Then there's toddy palm seeds, you'll see these sold in cans at your asian grocer and used as a side fruit with icecream and desserts.
Finally, toddy palm trees are one of the sources of unrefined palm sugar, the dark sugar with the complex flavours we use to produce a lot of Thai dishes.

Mango (Ma Muang)

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Mangos are a popular fruit that grows all over Thailand. When they are unripe they are green and very sour and we eat them with chilli and sugar and something salty, like this Fish Hair and Mango recipe.

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When they ripen they become soft and yellow and suitable for desserts. The most widely know dessert that uses mangos is Mango with Stick Rice and Coconut Sauce, see the picture below.

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And two more recipes with mango's you'll find on this site, the ever popular Mango Ice Cream:

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And mango syrup, a mango smoothy, diluted to make it more drinkable with sugar syrup.

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Rambutans ( Ngor )

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Rambutans are very pretty Thai fruit, slightly sweet but with a fairly bland taste and jelly texture. Cut around the middle of the skin twist and the skin will come off. Eat the flesh, leave the stone.

Pomelo - Thai Grapefruit

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Thai grapefruits are much larger, with much more pith and fibre, and far sweeter than their western counterpart. Since they're not sour, eating them is not such a punishment! They're also a bit dryer than the grapefruit you may be use to.

Cut off the pith, peal off the membrane and eat the flesh of the fruit.

StarFruit ( Ma-ferng )

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At the farm, my star fruit are ripe! As you can see from the photo they grow on trees in Thailand and are ripe when they've mostly yellow. They're not quite so popular here, the flavour isn't strong and the fruits waxy skin makes it not so easy to eat. The taste is slightly sweet, slightly citrus, slightly rubbery. But slices of star fruit do look nice in fruit salads.

Thai Rose Apples ( Choompoo )

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Thai Rose Apples are a little sharp, a little sweet and have the texture of crisp celery. You won't see them very often in the west, they're not so popular, but they're refreshing.
Above is the one you'll see in market stalls about the size of an apple, below is a smaller variety.

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Madan ( มะดัน )

Madan

Another one of these really sour fruits that we eat sometimes with sugar & salt and chilli dip. You can see a small sachet of the sugar mix behind it.

You'll find this is markets in central Thailand, around the city of Bangkok, places like Saraburi, Nakhon Pathom, Pathumthani.

This is also nice pickled, the sour fruit with the sour pickle really cuts through fatty foods.

Thai Tree Berries

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While up in the country, I decided to show you some of the berries that can be picked and eaten in Issan (North Eastern Thailand).

I like this picture so much, I'm cropped it and created desktop wallpapers for download. The berries have such an interesting texture and color! Choose the resolution you prefer, right click on the link and save as a JPG file then set it as your wallpaper!

Wall paper 320 wide x 480 high, iPod Touch and similar

Wall paper 480 wide x 800 high, Smartphones

Wall paper 640 wide x 960 high, Newer iPod

Wall paper 1024 wide x 768 high, Common PC

Wall paper 1050 wide x 1920 high, HDTV vertical

Wall paper 1152 wide x 864 high, Common PC

Wall paper 1280 wide x 1024 high, Very common screen resolution

Wall paper 1440 wide x 900 high

Wall paper 1600 wide x 1200 high

Wall paper 1600 wide x 1280 high

Wall paper 1680 wide x 1050 high

Wall paper 1920 wide x 1080 high, HDTV resolution


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Jack fruit

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Another famous Thai fruit, if Durian is the King of Fruit, then this the Queen of fruit. This one is less pungent than the Durian, but has similar perfume, the slight aroma of decay which is an acquired taste. But then people talk of the aroma of fine cheeses and to me they just stink.
We often use these meaty fruit as the main ingredient where you would normally use meat.

Cut the outer casing off, and pull out the softer fibrous pods inside and eat them straight away.

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Laos Coriander (Phak Chee Lao)

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Confusingly we call this Lao Coriander and we often use it in Isaan as a replacement for Coriander in dishes where a stronger flavour is needed, but it's a variety of dill. It has a slight aniseed taste and a medicinal bite to it. When used in a recipe, fresh dill can be substituted instead.

White Turmeric ( Kamin Khow )

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You'll see this available in little plastic bags on the street, all prepped and peeled like this. It is white turmeric, similar to ginger. It's eaten raw like this, with chilli pastes (Nam Prik) as a dipping sauce.

It has a medicinal edge to it, it reminds me of swimming pool chlorine. Often claimed to have health benefits (even cancer fighting benefits), but that's typical of anything that tastes bitter or medicinal.

When eaten with Nam-Prik it blends to a sort of minty taste. An acquired taste.

Sugar Apples (Noi Nah)

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These are sugar apples, a sweet, soft, melty fruit, full of liquid with a hard seed, and very pleasant to eat. There are two variations commonly sold, one where the outer skin easily peels off the flesh and a type where it doesn't - peeling the skins pulls out the segments too.
To peel the first type, simply pull all the peel off and eat like you would any apple, and spit out the hard seeds. With the second type, you pull out the segments with each nodule of peel, and eat the fleshy part, discarding the peel.

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Santol ( ga - torn )

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Santol is a soft, sour, pulpy fruit that's easy to find at the markets in Thailand. To eat in it's ripe form, you peel off the outer skin, pull out the pulpy seeds with your fingers and suck off the flesh from the large seed. A great deal of work for what is a sour, otherwise flavourless fruit.

However there is another way to eat it that's excellent.

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Banana Flowers ( Plee gluay )

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These flowers are not from the same plant that provides the regular eating bananas. They're easy to grow and the whole tree can be eaten or used in cooking, we even eat the trunk too. The white center of the top of trunk is eaten, in a similar way to bamboo is eaten. We use the leaf in place of banana leaves to steam food and many other uses.
The flowers can be eaten raw, or we steam them and eat with chillie/shrimp paste, it's used in stews, and in salads, and as a side dish for pad-thai. Think of it as a more fibrous chicory (witloof/endive), it's bitter like an chicory too.

Lotus Seeds

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Lotus seeds can be eaten as they are and taste like a soft nut. You also use them to flavour soups and to add more texture to rice porridge. Dried, they're a common ingredient in noodle soup seasoning packets.

They can be ground to a paste which is then sweetened and used to make fillings in sweet dumplings, in a similar way to yellow soy bean or and almond paste are used.

Below you can see the seed head, you'll see these sold on the street in bunches exactly like this, the seeds needs to be broken out of the head, then the outer casing of the seed peeled off.

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Thai Truffles ( Hed Pop )

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It's Thai Truffle season! This is a once a year event, when our version of the truffle is in season. The Thai truffle is a small round fruiting body of a fungus that grows underground. They are 1-2cms across, firm on the outside and soft on the inside. We call them popping mushrooms here, because they pop when you bite into them.
The taste and fragrance is very similar to a European truffle, a deep earthy flavour with very very strong mushroom notes. However the price is a lot cheaper: a little over $13 per kilo. This means you can use them as a vegetable. No delicate slices of truffle here, we can use them directly in place of mushrooms to turn a dish into a strong truffle dish!
Look for them towards the end of May. The name is 'hed pop'. Hed pronounced like 'head', meaning mushrooms, and 'pop' or rather 'po', the first two letters, the word that approximates the 'pop' sound in Thai.

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About Thai Vegetables

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Appon's Thai Food Recipes in the Thai Vegetables category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Thai Rice & Pulses is the previous category.

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