Thai Food You Should Eat Because of BL
Firstly most of these dishes have multiple spellings in English (and also often many different names within Thailand). I just picked one spelling, that will be enough to do a search, if you want to find a recipe for yourself.
Som Tum in What’s Zabb Man
AKA Green Papaya Salad
I think this is the one most people will know on this list. Unlike overseas, in Thailand there are many varieties of som tum (I’ve had an ocean-side version served with little blue crabs, raw and in the shell, AMAZING). It’s often a street food, and it’s usually quite spicy. You order by either asking the vendor (it’s traditionally served from market stalls just as we saw at the beginning of in this show) for a heat level or number of chilis. The ingredients are then pounded together with a massive mortar & pestle. The order and amounts of the different ingredients are chef-specific, so the variety and uniqueness is immense with this dish. There are fans of it who make a point of trying as many different versions in each city they visit as possible. Like being a wine taster.
Som Tum highlights what I think is best about Thai food - it’s bright forward freshness and deep complexity of flavors. Som Tum is the firework-in-your-mouth of salads: sour, sweet, salty, spicy, umami, herbaceous. It’s a spectacular dish (which has been ill served by it’s ubiquitousness outside of Thailand). It should be made fresh, (this is NOT a slaw), because if it sits at all the elements become soggy and the flavor muddled.
What’s Zabb Man emphasized the important aspects of this dish. Its spiciness and its freshness, the uniqueness of its flavor, not to mention how each chef makes it his own.
After all when Poon goes missing, Athip finds him again because, after one taste of his Som Tum, he know’s who’s in the kitchen.
Kao Soi in Bite Me
AKA Northern Thai Curry Noodle AKA Chiang Mai Curry Noodles
Did I do this post because I want to talk about this dish? Probubly. Here in the states it’s a rare to find on offer but it’s one of my absolute favorites.
I’m obsessed with diaspora foods in general - AKA fusion foods that highlight immigrant, colonial occupation, and/or blended communities. Lamb Vindaloo and Banh Mi are some famous examples of this. There was one banh mi place I found in Nor Cal run by a Chinese/Vietnamese couple that made a char siu pork + pâté banh mi, it was WILD and wicked good! Sorry, I digress.
This is a Northern Thai dish, common in Chang Mai, influenced by both Burmese (Myanmar) cuisine and local Chinese communities. It’s wildly variable by family and by region. This is also possibly one of my favorite foods. It’s notable in that it is one of the few traditional Thai dishes you will find served with chopsticks. (When I order it here in the states that’s one of the things I look for.)
It is a noodle soup/stew. Can be rice, egg, or flour noodles, usually ramen style (but sometimes fettuccine), topped with a thick coconut forward curry broth, stewed dark meat chicken (usually on the bone) and onion. It has fried crispy flour noodles on top and is served with pickled vegetables, extra spices, fresh herbs, lime wedges, and raw shallots (or some combination thereof) - either on the top or on the side (banchan style). The curry element usually has more in common with Chinese curry powers (like those used for Singapore noodles) than red or green Thai curries. It combines what we would think of as traditional Thai flavor profiles with Chinese, and can also use Indian spices. It is a very layered dish, with more depth and earthiness and slightly less brightness than a lot of other Thai food, it tends to have a rounded heat to it (hitting all of the mouth, like Indian cuisine). I am a particular fan of the pickled greens element.
Bite Me is not a great BL but Aek sharing his Chiang Mai roots with Chef Aue, most specifically around this dish, is key to the plot (what little there is). This is not a dish that is served in Chef Aue’s restaurant.
Khai Palo in Enchanté
AKA 5 Spice Pork & Egg Stew
This is the dish Theo remembers from his childhood that Akk’s family cooks for him. It’s a fascinating dish because it’s retains a very strong Chinese influence and is noted for using soy sauce as its salt element (rather than the more ubiquitous fish sauce) and for NOT being spicy.
It’s also often associated with children or childishness and comfort food. It’s most commonly found as a street food or homemade, and is rare in restaurants outside of Thailand. It has a similar flavor profile to Moo Gratiem which is one of my favorite dishes. (It’s that white peppercorn and garlic thing = NOM.) It’s also very easy to make, I recommend it.
In Enchanté this dish is a plot point and is interesting because it highlights both the time when Theo was last in Thailand (as a child), Akk’s interest in courting and caring for him, and Theo’s somewhat childish nature/behavior.
Gaeng Tai Pla in Close Friend 2
AKA pickled fish sour soup
A famous dish developed in the fishing communities of Southern Thailand. Traditionally it involves pickled fish bladder (Tai Pla) + large chunks of dried fish meat, Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, and/or seasonal greens, with a spice profile similar to tom yum (lemongrass, lime, shrimp paste, red chili).
I've never been lucky enough to eat this, but it's on my hit list. I think I could make something like it, but I can’t get hold of the the Tai Pla for love nor money, so I guess I have to wait until I get there.
Luk Choup in La Cuisine (& Until We Meet Again)
AKA no other name, really, but this is also the main characters name in La Cuisine, ลูกชุบ (translation, coated pieces) but the meaning of this dessert is “loved by all, or adored.” This aspect of the name is a plot point in the series. Choup’s older brother, aunt, and grandmother all refer to him as the family’s beloved one, or special one, or most loved.
Luk Choup are tiny imitation fruits/vegetables (or occasionally star shapes) these are made of mung beans cooked with coconut milk and sugar. Once formed, they are dipped in gelatin and painted with food coloring to resemble other food. Recipe here.
This one appeared multiple times in Until We Meet Again, on the bus, at the fair, and at the very end during Dean and Pharm’s separation.
I’ve eaten these.
Consistency wise the exterior is like a gummy but much tougher consistency, and with a bite to it. So like if you made jello into sheets but with too much gelatin. I’ve actually never had anything else to compare to this texture, perhaps like some of the bits in bubble teas? The interior is like very thick humus meets the inside of a peanut butter cup.
As for taste, the gel outside has no flavor and the inside tastes a lot like red bean paste. They are not very sweet.
Chor Muang in Until We Meet Again
AKA Blue Flower Dumpling
Chor Muang is a purple or blue flower-shaped dumpling that is savory, stuffed with a spiced minced chicken. These days it is a popular appetizer but it was once served as a dessert. Recipe here.
Chor Muang is a major catalyst food for the plot of Until We Meet Again. It is featured in a play starring Del and Manaow and is the reason Pharm meets and befriends Del. This allows him to start helping fix Dean’s strained family dynamic.
Later he feeds this dumpling to Team, Win, and Dean in front of witnesses. This is the first time he feeds Dean (it will not be the last.)
I did a post all about the sweets in this show.
Nom Yen in SOTUS (also 2 Moons, 2 Moons 2)
AKA Pink Milk
Pink milk is pretty ubiquitous in most Thai BL series. Technically, its origin for association with BL is the original y-novel of 2 Moons. However, most international watchers are familiar with it from SOTUS (more recently it has shown up associated with side characters in Nitman and Love Area).
After watching SOTUS and both 2 Moons installments I got curious. Here’s the full post I did on pink milk, how it’s made and my experience attempting to recreate it. I can see why it might be thought of as a childish drink, it reminded me a bit of birthday cake flavoring, ice cream bean, or cotton candy. It’s very sweet and not a whole lot else.
THAI LANGUAGE CORNER
I haven’t learned the minutia yet but around ordering food in Thai but the Thai bestie always complains the monikers (also verbs?) for dishes have to do with what the dish is usually served it. So some dishes have names/consumption verbs that have to do with bowls and others with plates.
Much as in English we would use the verb “drink” for broth but “eat” for soup. (And also argue about which one is appropriate under which circumstances.)
To train your ear for BL:
gin = to eat or to have a meal (also under certain circumstances/sentance structures it slang for to sexually consume or fuck). See Pharm misuse this one in UWMA when Dean first visits his condo.
khao or kao = food but also actually rice, also a name and also third person he pronoun
talay = the ocean and also mixed seafood and a name
pad = usually means a stir fried (dryer) dish
pak = veggies!
kai (sounds like gai) = chicken ไก่ but also egg ไข่ (yes they are different in intonation and spelling, but really I find it darn near impossible to hear the difference)
A list of some common dishes is here.
Please leave a comment if any other dish has shown up you want to talk about, because this is basically my favorite topic EVER. I love to eat and cook Thai food so, yeah. Also the oft mentioned Thai bestie is an AMAZING cook. I often act the part of her kitchen goblin.