Welcome to Saap Chat
Hello all and Sawasdee Khrup from the Saap family! We are so excited for this opportunity to share some of the food stories, wild ingredients, and fun things we’ve learned throughout our adventures to Thailand as well as the happenings at the restaurant. Saap Chat is a way for us to get connected with our community to explain in greater detail some things about Thai cuisine and culture that we celebrate.
An Adventure Abroad – Part 1
Let’s start with a little context. If you turned back the clock to June of 2009 you would eventually come across a very significant moment for Saap. As chef Steve and his son Connor arrived at the Burlington airport the pieces began falling into place for what would eventually become Saap restaurant (Truly the pieces began to fall in place when Steve first traveled to Thailand in 2007. However, this trip marks the first time the entire Saap family would be together!).
A mere 24 hours later Steve and Connor would be groggily stepping off the plane at the Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. Before even setting foot outside it became evident what a deeply rooted and massive food culture Thailand has. They were greeted by Steve’s girlfriend, now wife, Nisachon (Rung). She wore a brilliant red dress with an equally brilliant smile, but what was perhaps even more catching to the eye were the bags brimming with fruit that she had brought. Somehow Rung managed to carry in three young coconuts along with bags of ripe Rambutan, Lychees, mangosteen, and Longan.
After being whisked away through nightmarish Bangkok traffic, the taxi’s first stop was not the hotel…it was the noodle house. Despite being utterly full from the onslaught of fruits we snacked on during the taxi ride, we managed to make room for Pad Kee Mao, Hoi Thout, Pad Thai Sai Kai, and a slew of other hot, chewy noodle dishes. What happened next on our trip? Check back for the next Saap Chat post in which we tell the tale of a journey northward to Rung’s hometown called Phu Wiang and our introduction to the Isaan region/cuisine of Thailand!
Pad Thai Sai Kai: Stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, bean sprouts & peanut wrapped in egg.
An Adventure Abroad – Part 2
After a few days of R&R in Bangkok we were feeling rejuvenated and hungry to see more of Thailand. We were most excited for the this next leg of our trip because we would be traveling to the far Northeastern corner of Thailand to the village where Rung grew up. The village is called Phu Wiang and is most notably home to the Phu Wiang National Park/Dinosaur Museum. For us, however, its most noteworthy characteristic was that it was also home to Rung’s mother Ma Mali living in the home where Rung grew up along with a few other family members.
With luggage in tow, we found our way to the bus station. We were met by Rung’s sister who, much like Rung, greeted us with bags of delicious snacks. In particular, she had made about two pounds of Muu Dad Deaw along with some sticky rice to sustain us for the nearly seven hour long ride. It was at this precise moment that we experienced one of those magically transcendent first tastes that seem to surprise us all occasionally. Muu Dad Deaw is roughly translated to mean “One Day in the Sun Pork”. This is because the dish traditionally consists of thin-sliced pork shoulder which has been marinated in a mixture of dark soy sauce & coriander and is then left out in the sun for at least a day. This process dehydrates the pork giving it a wonderful texture somewhat reminiscent of jerky but not quite a tough or dry. It also allows for the meat to start to develop a slightly sour flavor much like cured salami. The strips are then flash fried in oil and usually eaten with sticky rice and a tangy dipping sauce of tamarind, cilantro, scallion, palm sugar, and toasted rice powder called Nam Jim Jeaw.