Tag: Sticky Rice

The Hottest Kitchen Tool at a Price You Can Afford


In Northeast Thailand, a small clay stove was the answer to all your cooking needs, the back porch kitchen appliance everyone had to have. About the size of a large stock pot, it offered everything in one–an upper stove section to nurse a blaze in cheap charcoal until it was red hot, and a lower oven deck where embers dropping from the inferno above could roast such gastronomic delights as sweet potatoes or edible seeds.  A trivet molded into the top and an opening for the oven came standard with all models.

A gas stove and electric fridge staffed our indoor kitchen, while the clay stove hunkered alone on the back patio unless it was cranking its heat for the daytime tasks assigned to it.  Our house helper would squat next to it, applying flaming, shriveling wispy sticks to the mound of charcoal and blowing until the fire caught and held.

Spicy, Salty, Sweet, and Tart


Our maid had only a few tools in her back patio kitchen: a machete, a stout clay charcoal stove, a coconut grater, a mortar and pestle, and a large red and white platter. Perhaps you’d also find a blackened wok, a couple of cheap aluminum pots, and a cone-shaped straw basket (with lid) for steaming sticky rice. But when she got to work with her basic complement of cooking equipment, our mouths watered.

My siblings and I had decided long ago, even back in the village before our move to a town near the Mekong,  that we didn’t like American food. Oh, the occasional hamburger and hand-cut french fries would do for birthdays. But Thai food–not limp, stringy stir-fried bean sprouts–but real Northeastern Thai food that you could crunch and savor, like green papaya salad, won our full approval.