Q) Are your favourite Thai desserts and sweets, colourfully sold on many a street corner in Thailand really Thai?
A) Strangely enough, many Portuguese tourists would instantly recognise the flavours and textures of many Thai desserts……. as they too have the same desserts in their native Portugal.
So how have these seemingly un-twinned countries on different corners of the globe managed to have the same desserts?
Looking back at Thailand’s history much of this can be explained by Portuguese traders and missionaries who visited Thailand in the 16th century. In fact, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit Thailand. A walk through the streets of Phuket old town where tourists flock to admire the beautiful Sino-Portugese architecture is a big clue to just how important the Portuguese influence is. Here I will focus on how the Portuguese have shaped Thai desserts, for influences on the rest of Thai cuisine you will have to stay posted !
The most important person in the history of Thai dessert was Marie Guimar, a woman of mixed race descent, born in Ayutthaya 1664. Her father was Portuguese (from Portuguese Goa) and her mother was Japanese (who migrated to Thailand due to the repression of Christianity in Japan).
An Unfortunate tale……
In 1682 Marie Guimar married Constantine Phaulkon, a Greek sailor who quickly became highly influential at the Siamese court as he gained the trust and respect of King Narai. They enjoyed a life of affluence, and Phaulkon’s position caused great envy amongst the natives. After King Narai fell seriously ill and during the Siamese Revolution in 1688, Phaulkon was arrested and put to death whilst Marie was sent to prison. After many miserable years spent imprisoned, good luck came her way during the reign of King Thaisa (1709-1733) who saw how valuable her attributes as a lady and cooking skills were.
So he put her in charge of the royal household kitchen with as many as 2,000 women working under her. Through this position she taught the women in the palace the art of cooking, including many desserts from her native Portugal.
She introduced the methods of baking and the use of egg yolks and flour, techniques that were unknown in Thailand at that time. In the Ayutthaya era Thais only used eggs for savoury dishes, so the concept of using them to make sweets was revolutionary for that time. To this day, most of the desserts taught by Marie Guimar still remain in everyday Thai cuisine, and explains why many Thai desserts are based on egg yolk and sugar. The most famous being Thong Yod, Thong Yip and Foy Thong which are variants of a family of Portuguese desserts known as ‘ovos moles’. So maybe next time you bite into your favourite Thai sweet…… you’ll spare a thought for its origin and say thanks to Marie Guimar
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In response to Nora McLaughlin MacNeil on our Friends of Thavorn Facebook page, our Award Winning Chef at Thavorn Palm Beach Resort, Chef Khun Chompoo, has provided the recipe for one of her Award Winning Signature Dishes ‘GAENG KIEW WAAN TALAY‘ or the famous ‘Thai Green Curry’. Nora wrote:
Well Nora, as part of our personalised service to all Friends of Thavorn, please see Khun Chompoo’s recipe below for the perfect Thai Green Curry. All Friends of Thavorn are welcome to post questions about Authentic Thai Cuisine to our Award Winning Chef Khun Chompoo via our Friends of Thavorn Facebook Page.
Khun Chompoo’s Signature’s Award winning Dish of the month
“ GAENG KIEW WAAN TALAY”
Green Curry with Seafood
50 g Assorted fresh seafood (prawns, fish, squid)
50 g Green curry paste
200 ml Coconut cream (the first squeeze out)
200 ml Coconut milk
50 g White eggplants (crisp eggplants), cut in half
40 g Pea eggplants
6 leaves Kaffir lime leaves, tone in half
20 g Sweet basil leaves
5 chillies Red chillies (Prik Chee Fah), seeded
1½ tablespoons Fish sauce
1 teaspoon Palm sugar
- In a wok or saucepan, bring half the coconut cream to the boil and add green curry paste and stir and cook until fragrant for a few minutes.Add the rest of the coconut cream, coconut milk, fish sauce and palm sugar and bring back to the boil.
- Add the white eggplants and pea eggplants, and simmer until eggplants are cooked.
- Add the fish and simmer until the fish changed the colour and add the shrimps and squid and bring back to the boil.
- Stir kaffir lime leaves, chillies and sweet basil leaves and bring back to the boil and remove the heat.
- Serve with steamed rice.
Arroi Mak Kap
You can sample Khun Chompoo’s dishes at The Old Siam Restaruant at Thavorn Palm Beach Resort, Karon Beach, Phuket.
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……..And now for my favourite part of the 1st March ‘Friends of Thavorn’ Prizedraw party – the Traditional Thai food! A word of warning – Reading the following may cause you to develop sudden hunger pangs and a craving for Thai food !
Pad Thai (Thai Fried Noodles)
Let’s start with probably the most famous Thai dish of all, well known the world over. ‘Pad Thai’ translated word for word means ‘Fried Thai’, this fried flat noodle dish is made with egg, garlic, meat or shrimps (optional), and tamarind juice . It’s a light dish whilst at the same time balancing so many flavours such as sweet, savoury and sour, which the Thai culinary artform does so well.
In Thailand ‘Pad Thai’ is normally served with a topping of bean sprouts, grounded nuts, fresh lime and sprigs of Chinese chives, and seasonings such as; dry chilli flakes, fish sauce and vinegar so you can mix up the flavor even more to suit your taste.
Gai Yang (Grilled Chicken)
A street food favourite here is ‘Gai Yang’ which is marinated chicken grilled over a low heat on a charcoal flame for a long time to bring out the best flavours. The marinade typically includes fish sauce, garlic, tumeric, coriander (cilantro), and white pepper. Many variations exist, for example it can include black soy sauce, hoy sin sauce, shallots, coriander seeds, lemongrass, chillis, ginger, vinegar and palm sugar.
Moo Sa-Te (Pork Satay Sticks)
Tantalizing sweet-flavoured grilled pork on skewers, ‘Moo Sa-Te’ can be eaten as a snack, side dish or even main course. The grilled meat on skewers is seasoned with tumeric and curry powder. It is always served with a dipping sauce, there are 2 kinds, one is a mildly spicy coconut milk based thick curry flavoured sauce made with ground peanuts and the other is a sweet and sour vinegar sauce with chopped shallot, pepper and cucumber. The latter sauce serves to help lower the oiliness of the satay. Whilst its origins are not strictly from Thailand , it is a classic example of neighbouring Malaysia’s influence on Thai food. Nowadays ‘Moo Sa-te’ has been integrated into everyday Thai street food stalls, variations of this are chicken and beef satay.
Som Tam (Papaya Salad)
‘Som Tam’ otherwise known as ‘papaya salad’ is probably the second most well known Thai dish, second only to ‘Pad Thai’ and is famous not just in Thailand but the world over for its fiercely spicy and sour flavors. ‘Som Tam’ which literally translated means ‘Sour Pounded’, is a spicy salad made from a mix of fresh vegetables including shredded un-ripened papaya, green beans and tomatoes.
What makes Som Tam unique though is the spicy dressing which is pounded with the fresh vegetables using a mortar using a pestle. This dressing includes; Dried shrimp, small crabs, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and the most important of all –chilli !!
Thais traditionally eat Som tam with grilled chicken and sticky rice, although nowadays it can be eaten as a side dish with just about anything. Som Tam is good for your health as it contains no fat, low calorie and is high in vitamins. In Thailand it can be made to order, for example, without dried shrimps or crabs, extra beans, or less fish sauce, just tell the waiter. There are also regional variations such as Som Tam ‘Isan style’ or Som Tam ‘central Thailand’ style.
As it is perfectly normal for Thais to have 10 small red chillies in their Som Tam , here’s a handy tip for you, just say ‘Mai Phet’ which means ‘not spicy’, it could save you from a mouth burning experience!
Keng Riang Goong Sod (Vegetable Soup with Fresh Shrimps)
A popular healthy Thai soup made of mainly shrimps and vegetables such as pumpkin, mushrooms, carrots and seasoned with ingredients such as; salt, lemon basil, shallots, galangal, white pepper powder and shrimp paste. Interestingly, the most popular reason to eat this soup in Thailand is the belief that it helps mothers produce breast milk.
Park – Moh (Savoury Rice Flour Dumplings)
A light and healthy snack, these are small white steamed dumplings, the skin is made of rice flour and tapioca batter. The fillings can vary but can include; minced chicken, shrimp, pork, beansprouts, shallot, preserved radish, grounded nuts
Traditional Thai Desserts
The following 3 desserts we enjoyed all include the name ‘Thong’ which means ‘Gold ‘ in Thai. This name is symbolic, as all these desserts were traditionally served for VIP guests, the Royal family or at important occasions such as weddings.
Foy – Thong (Golden Egg Yolk Shreds )
Literally translated means ‘shredded gold’. Made from egg yolks and sugar boiled in sweet syrup then shredded into fine threads, traditionally Thais believe the long shreds will bring long lasting love and good fortune. This shows the Chinese influence on Thai cuisine, because the Chinese also believe that long golden noodles bring long lasting love, life and prosperity.
Thong – Yhip (Golden Egg Yolk Flower Tart)
Thong Yip is made from egg yolk, sugar, flour and water boiled into a sugar syrup and formed into flower like shapes using finger tips. If it’s good Thong Yip it will never smell of yolks or eggs. Thais believe this will bring wealth, as literally translated Thong Yi’ means to ‘get gold’
Thong- Yod (Golden Egg Yolk drops)
Often served with Thong Yip, Thong Yod means ‘golden drop’ which symbolizes getting richer drop by drop and therefore continuous wealth.
The main ingredients are the same as Thong Yip but is formed into teardrop like shapes instead of flowers.
Thai Dessert Interesting Fact
Did you know that most Thai desserts, including all those above were not invented in Thailand but are borrowed from Portuguese desserts ? Brought to Thailand by a half-Portuguese half-Japanese lady called ‘Marie Guimanr” who taught the royal kitchen how to cook these desserts in the 17th Century. For more about this interesting tale stay posted…….
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To continue the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of Thavorn Hotels & Resorts and to see the launch of our latest promotion ‘ Friends of Thavorn ‘ on the 1st March 2011 we held the first “Friends of Thavorn Prize draw Reception” at Thavorn Palm Beach & Resort (TPB).
The ‘Ramayana’ was introduced throughout South East Asia during the Indianization of the region, which can explain why many countries in the area including Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia show Hindu influences in their dance, architecture, arts and so forth.
The performance shows Hanuman’s (the king-god of the apes) pursuit of Benyakai’s (a demoness) love. The costumes are elaborately gold and colourful, movements are swift and harmonious with a delicate tone and gesture.
Serng Krapo (Coconut Dance)
‘Krapo’ is the word for coconut in the Northeastern dialect. The dance shows the activities of a group of young girls from the Isan province in North-eastern Thailand. The dancers hold two coconut shells, shaking them, tossing them or tapping them lightly. This dance is often accompanied by the sound of the ‘ Pong lang ‘, a traditional Thai instrument that looks like an upright xylophone, made of strips of wood.
The dancers wear traditional Thai costume, for the women a tight-fitting open necked blouse and breast cloth and lower garments called ‘Jongkraben’, swept-back hair with flower decoration and other accessories. The men wear a short-sleeved silk shirt with a breast cloth and ‘Jongkraben’.
Stay posted, for details of my favourite part of the night – the delicious authentic Thai food!
Gadis Wijaya ^^ (Marketing Mgt Trainee)
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Have you ever heard about the national park of Phuket?
Well, if you haven’t, I will tell you about it. Last Sunday we decided to visit this beautiful place at Nai yang Beach, and that was how we left the city of Phuket, towards the national park and after about 45 minutes by bike we arrived at our destination. I should mention that during our bike trip I couldn’t believe the incredible scenario around us, all that immense amount of green trees and jungle and the wind hitting my face, really perfect! I was amazed.
When we reached the beach I was surprised about how quiet it was, we did not see many people, don’t know why, but maybe the place is not very popular among tourists or is too far away. So, if you want to relax and get away from the crowd this is definitely the perfect place.
Coming back to the main subject, we walked along the beach for a while (where I collected more shells for my collection and we saw a few fishing boats and canoes. Then we wanted to go for a drink and something that I really liked was the choice we had to chose between small bars located on the beach or a variety of bars located along the street right in front of the beach. The bar where we stayed was quite nice, the people who attended there were really nice and also the bar was decorated with flags everywhere. We chatted for a while (while I was playing with a beautiful dog!), and after a game of pool we ordered something to eat and we moved with our dinner in one of the few tables on the beach. Sadly, After dinner we had to start our journey back to Phuket town because it was a little bit late and we were 45 minutes away …
I think that’s all for now, I leave you hoping to see you soon here, in Phuket Island, la ciudad sol!
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At 9 o’clock we were picked up by an AsianPremier Van in front of the lobby of the Thavorn Grand Plaza. After a 30 minute ride we arrived at the marina of Phuket. Then all the tourists gathered there were divided into a few groups according to each ones itinerary. After a short break the tour started with a photo taken in front of the marina. Then we boarded the boat with 15 other tourists, mainly Australian, German and French. The crew welcomed us aboard with fresh soft drinks.
After one hour ride on the speedboat we arrived at Bamboo Island. There we had the possibility to go snorkeling, walk along the beach with the stunning white sand or sunbathing for one additional hour. After we returned to the speedboat again we arrived a special place in the middle of the sea, were we could jump in the wide sea and discover the coral reef on our own. There we were able to feed the fish with bananas. After half an hour it was time to say goodbye to the coral and the fish. Back on board we got fresh bananas as a snack.
After a short ride to Phi Phi Don we enjoyed a great lunch at a beachside restaurant. There we got the choice between international lunch buffet and thai food. After the lunch we spent our free time relaxing and walking along the beach. After one hour we left Phi Phi Don and arrived at Monkey Bay to feed the monkeys with fruits.
The next destination on our journey was Viking Caves. These caves are very famous because there are many bird nests here which are collected to produce a special and very expensive soup. Then we arrived after 15 minutes at Koh Phi Phi Ley. This place is worldwide famous because of the British-American movie THE BEACH. At this place we had 40 minutes free time to enjoy the amazing landscape with the wonderful contrast of the crystal clear water.
The next and last destination of our tour was Khai Nai Island. There we had 40 minutes free time for snorkeling again, sunbathing or enjoying the breathtaking beach! Finally at 5.40 we arrived again at the marina. Here the van was waiting for us to take us again safe back to the hotel Thavorn Grand Plaza in the city center of Phuket.
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We woke up very early at half past five in the morning, as our mini-bus was due to pick us up in front of the Thavorn Grand Plaza at 6 am. After a 2 hour drive through the city outskirts and the open countryside we arrived in Khao Lak. From there we took a one hour ride on a speed boat to reach the islands. On the way from Khao Lak to Similan Island we saw a group of dolphins jumping out of the beautiful sea.
As Islands No. 1, 2 and 3, are part of a protected natural park, visitors are not allowed access. So our first stop was near Island number 5 where we spent around 40 minutes snorkeling. There we had the possibility to find Nemo or other fish and also to take a look at the spectacular coral reefs. We were lucky enough to see a sea turtle which was passing by very close to all the divers.
After those first impressions of the beautiful island we arrived at Island number 4 to have lunch. Then we had an hour of free time to relax a little and enjoy the white sand and the clearest water we have ever seen.
Back on the boat we arrived a few minutes later to Island number 7 for some more snorkeling. While we were snorkeling over the beautiful sea ground we took a few pictures with an underwater camera. We then travelled on the boat again to our last snorkeling place in front of Island number 8, where we observed even more impressive underwater life.
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I have already spent nearly a month at The Thavorn Grand Plaza Hotel, so now it is time for me to start to share my experiences such as; my day job, my night time activities and my life in Phuket.
The Sales and Marketing office in which I work, has many people from various countries around the world such as; Spain, Argentina, Austria, Germany, Malaysia, England, Australia, Russia, Philippines, Brazil and of course Thailand and France (where I come). Our Assistant Group Managing Director is Thai. It is a wonderful opportunity to discover new cultures and improve my English, although we do not work in my native language which makes it a little more complicated. In the Sales & Marketing department, I am in charge of the French Speaking market, the registration of reservations and the relationship between the office and reception. I think the French market is very interesting work and I have contacted all the French and Belgian tour operators to offer them to work with us, that is to say, to include hotels for students in their package. The first week I visited with people from the team two other hotels in the chain, beautiful hotels, located on the beaches of Karon and Nakalay.
Our Assistant Group Managing Director has given us a great opportunity with other students to participate in excursions to Phi Phi and James Bond Island (already mentioned in this blog), and more to come. In a few weeks after my mission in the Sales and Marketing department, I will go in two other hotels to discover new services.
Regarding the evenings and days off, I spend much of my free time with the team for dinner, visit Phuket or even go to the beach. The bars and restaurants nearby are very nice and of course the shopping in Phuket town you can find very beautiful things for prices more than adequate.
Please follow more of my adventures on this blog…
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Yesterday on the 29th of April we started early at half past 7 to get ready for our next tour, going to James Bond Island, which is in the area of Phang Nga. We arrived at Phang Nga Bay at around 10 o‘clock and then our adventure started by boarding a big boat. After we got on the boat, the crew, which consisted of 12 people, welcomed us with cold and hot drinks and a big basket of fresh fruit. While the boat was leaving from the pier we got a short briefing about what we would be doing during the whole day, which made us all very excited. The tour guide then introduced us all to our personal boat guide. There was one boat guide shared between two of us, who would be responsible for the canoeing for us.
All in all it took us around one hour to get to our first stop which was our first of 4 total adventures. First was an Island called Lawa Island with a beach with lots of shells and crabs. There we had the opportunity to swim, relax on the beach or canoe on our own.
After 40 minutes it was time to get into the canoe again and go back to the big boat. There it took us around half an hour to get to James Bond Island. We stopped the boat again in front of amazing, huge rocks, which really seemed to climb out of the water. The boat guide drove us to a small bay with a beach full of shells and stairs on one end of the bay. The pathway we passed by some beautiful viewpoints where it was possible to see the famous rock, which is called James Bond Island, or Ko Tapu or Nail Island. These rocks are famous because important scenes with Roger Moore and Christopher Lee in the 1974 Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun” were shot there. At the beachside of this island it was possible to go shopping and bathing again.
Back on the boat a delicious Thai buffet lunch was waiting for us followed by fruits and drinks.
After half an hour additional driving we reached another beautiful island called Koh Hong, which we discovered by our private canoe. We saw a lot of impressive rocks, which sometimes looked like piranhas, fingers, an old monk or a gorilla. The impressing and amazing rocks made us really speechless.
To sum it up, this exciting trip was a very beautiful insight into the scenic world of the mysterious “hongs” (Thai word for rooms), by canoeing along the amazing landscape of Phang Nga Bay.
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Now again “my daily life at Thavorn Grand Plaza” from another point of view!
After my first month working under the shining sun of Thailand I must say, that I have seen a lot of things that impressed me totally! I don’t only mean all the white beaches around Phuket, I also mean the whole restaurant and bar scene. I think it is not possible to see in another place in the world the so many different kinds of restaurants with such a great choice of delicious food. Here you can find in addition to all the Thai restaurants, many Korean ones, many Chinese ones, Japanese ones as well as German restaurants, American restaurants, Italian restaurants without any problem.
Furthermore, it is possible on nearly every corner to find freshly cooked snacks or whole dishes. A very special thing here is also all the markets, but especially the weekend market. At this market you can not only go shopping for clothes, you can also buy a lot of different small gifts, souvenirs, decoration, jewellery, DVDs and stuff like this, you can also purchase food, fruits and all kinds of vegetables.
The next impression which I want to share with you concerns the amazing beaches around Phuket Island and also all our Thavorn Hotels! I really don’t know with which beach I should start, but in my opinion, the beaches on Similan Island are the most impressing ones in the near area! I have never seen such amazing white beaches and light turquoise water. It really made me and everybody else speechless! The water seemed to be clearer and purer than any water elsewhere in the world…
Another inimitable place for me was Phi Phi Island with all the colorful corals and shining fish around the unbelievable underwater world.
But I must add on this place that you don’t need to go on an island tour to see such beautiful beaches. All the beaches directly on Phuket Island, there are around 20 different mind-blowing beaches, like Kata Beach, Karon Beach, Patong Beach, Surin Beach, Nai Yang Beach, Bang Tao Beach and many more are amazing. On these beaches you can take a bath in the warm sea, sunbathe under the stunning sun or observe huge waves dashing against the fine white sand. You can also watch surfers riding on the waves, drive a jet ski, do parasailing or enjoy one of the popular and relaxing Thai massages directly on the beach!
All in all, I can only tell you my impressions, but if you really want to know what is going on here in Phuket, please don’t hesitate to come and form your own opinion
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