October 14, 2011

Jim Thompson's steamed coconut rice, Bangkok

Each one of my visits in Bangkok has to include a short stopover at the Jim Thompson's House. The famous silk items first drew me to it a few years ago. However it is more for the calm of the place and its restaurant's light cuisine that I come back every time now, especially since the green papaya salad I once ordered came accompanied by a simple yet unforgettable coconut flavoured rice...

Although I like rice when prepared a certain way (as a risotto or Yeung Chow fried rice for instance) or when turned into noodles or vermicelli for a soup or salad, for whatever reason I am not a huge fan of white rice. Not that I dislike it, but I am just not really interested in it, and would rather concentrate on the centre piece. So in countries where leaving rice on one's plate is considered rude - Thailand for sure - I would just try to be served a small portion to start with.

But this coconut flavoured rice seems to be of an other world. Though cooked with coconut milk and sugar (I could not help asking the waitress to find out the recipe for me) it is neither very sweet, not sticky like in mango sticky rice - an other Thai delicacy served as a dessert. The grains remain separated from each other, and together its fragrance and its taste provide me with a delightful, almost inexplicable sensation of comfort and reassurance - in perfect harmony with the peaceful environment, and absolute contrast with surrounding buzzing Bangkok. Time seems to stand still.

Although I managed to get the ingredients for the preparation (not the detailed recipe unfortunately), I haven't tried to reproduce this heavenly dish in my own kitchen yet. Maybe the fear that it may not taste quite as good anymore outside its usual context. So again, when Tom and I stopped in Bangkok for a few days before heading to Cambodia, I didn't resist dragging Tom to the Jim Thompson House for lunch. Papaya salad for me please! We did not even look at the silk shop this time..

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