Going to Ton Payom market at the weekend is always a bit of an adventure for us because we never know what gems we might find there. Sometimes there are Hilltribe ladies selling mushrooms (het in Thai) that they’ve gathered that morning from the jungle up on the mountain…
Much to the chagrin of some of our friends here in Chiang Mai, I bought some gloriously-coloured ones, brought them home to our apartment, and cooked them. Amato mio and I are still here to tell the tale!
We do of course, seek out our staples, and we have regular sellers that we go to now – they always greet us with a smile, and talk to us in Thai… I suspect it’s all to catch us out, and unmask us for the language-frauds we really are!
From vibrant, succulent rambutan (ngo in Thai) and young coconuts (ma-phrao)…
… to delicious yellow mangoes (ma muang) – amato mio‘s favourite fruit…
… to wonderfully sweet little Asian bananas (kluay)…
… and all kinds of other fruity wonders…
And a plethora of delicious vegetables too…
In addition, we can buy pink eggs (we don’t… I think they might be pickled or something. Yuck!) but they do look pretty…
And tofu (om nom nom!)…
All kinds of curry pastes an’ stuff…
I bought a bag of each of these pastes; they cost me 6 baht per bag (about 12p/18 cents), and there’s easily enough for 10 curries in each bag. I tend to make two curries with pastes, then one of my own, and so on. Once I’ve used them up, I’ll just make my own but I’m really glad to have had the chance to try them. The green one is my favourite. By the way, those blocks of yellow tofu a few pics up? They only cost 6 baht each as well. If I’m making Phad Thai, I use half a block for the two of us but if I’m using the tofu in a curry, or in a dish by itself, I’ll use a whole block. Most bargainous, eh?
For meat-eaters, in the centre of the market, inside what is essentially a very large cage, is where you can buy all kinds of meat to take home to cook. I’ve never ventured in because I have no cause to. I don’t suppose it’s very expensive though. But if, like lots of Thais, you prefer to buy your meat ready-cooked, you can get all kinds of meat-on-a-stick (for a whopping [not!] 10 baht a pop!)…
Or perhaps you’d prefer some sausage?
I think those are packets of spicy sausagemeat on the left of the photo.
Perhaps you’d like some pork scratchings…
(I think it’s deep-fried pig skin… but I can’t swear to it!)
What about some fish?
Or whatever this is…
And if it looks a bit bland, perhaps these would be more to your taste?
However, if you are feeling really adventurous, might I suggest some delicious bamboo worms? I kid you not, they are lovely… like worm-shaped crisps!
No? OK, I suppose you could just go for some dried fruits, or candies, or cookies then!
One of the things I really love about shopping at the market, is getting home and unpacking the food. There’s something very, very beautiful about putting it all on the table so that I can work out where everything is going to go. And something very gratifying knowing that our haul (including several kilos of fruit that aren’t in the following photo), which is enough to feed us for a week, has cost us around 300 baht (6 GBP/9 USD approx). I know I’ve said in the past that I prefer to shop daily but it’s a 20 minute walk to the market, and I really don’t have time to do that every day – if I did, I absolutely would!
1. spring onions
2. white onions
4. firm tofu (dyed with turmeric)
5. holy basil (ka phrao)
7. snake/yardlong beans
9. coriander/cilantro (phak chi)
10. beansprouts (thua ngok) – 5 baht for a big bag … enough for two meals each for two adults!
12. white cabbage (kalam pli)
13. culantro (phak chi farang) + spearmint (sa ra nae)
14. plum tomatoes
15. cloud ear fungus (het hu nu) – my favourite!
16. oyster mushrooms
17. brown mushrooms
18. kaffir/wild limes (ma krut) – definitely my favourite limes!
19. lemongrass (ta khrai)
20. Pak Nork (I don’t know what this is called in English)
21. wing beans (thua phu) – amato mio thought wing beans were runner beans because in Thai language, the word ‘wing’ means to run. I think he was a little disappointed!
22. galangal (kha)
23. finger root (krachai)
24. green ginger (khing)
25. kaffir lime leaves (bai ma krut) – one of my favourite flavourings!
And just to show you exactly how beautiful this food is…
And look how gorgeous the kaffir limes are on the inside!
What do you love about your local market?