May 19

Best Bangkok Floating Markets for Foodies

Bangkok's floating Markets, Bangkok. Copyright 2014 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Skip the touristy floating markets such as Damnoen Saduak if you’re a fan of street food. Instead, make a beeline for these comparatively off-the-tourist-radar spots which we believe are the best Bangkok floating markets for foodies.

A birds-eye-view of a canal crammed with narrow wooden boats, laden with tropical fruits, fresh vegetables, fragrant flowers, and aromatic herbs, being rowed by smiling women wearing woven hats may be Thailand’s most iconic image. Yet, sadly, the reality on the ground — or water — these days at Damnoen Saduak, the Bangkok floating market featured time and again in tourism advertisements, is far different.

Boats now brim with tacky souvenirs, Singha beer t-shirts and other tourist tat, you’ll see more foreigners posing for photos with oars in hand than locals let alone vendors plying their trade, and the food is terribly disappointing.

Fortunately, Bangkok’s floating markets aren’t merely tourist attractions. They have been an integral part of Thai culture, commerce and social life since the 1782 founding of Bangkok, a city built upon water. Waterways and canals or khlongs, man-made and natural, formed the main transportation system until 1851 when roads were established.

Serving as highways and back-roads, merchants moved goods by barge and boat, selling their wares and produce to riverside dwellers whose stilted wooden homes perched precariously atop the water. Marketplaces formed on and around the busiest bits, on the water and docks, while on more tranquil sections, vendors rowed to homes like door-to-door salesman or home-delivery guys.

What this means for food-lovers visiting Bangkok is that within an hour or two of the chaotic centre, there are scores of floating markets operating on quiet canal-sides and riverbanks of Bangkok’s outer village-like suburbs, provincial towns and semi-rural communities surrounding the capital.

Trading primarily on weekends and frequented mostly by locals and Thai tourists, these floating markets remain relatively off the beaten track for most visitors to Bangkok, which is why they make such a wonderful alternative to the tourist-driven markets. Get there before the secret is out and the big travel companies start including them on tours.

Here’s our guide to the best Bangkok floating markets for foodies:

Tha Ka Floating Market
At the entrance to this low-key local market, between vendors selling traditional folk music CDs and Thai orchids, the sweet aromas from a smoky barbecue should lure you to your breakfast: grilled skewers of bananas doused with coconut sugar sauce, made to a secret family recipe.

Once you reach the shaded waterfront, prettily decorated with flowerpots, you’ll find smiling women set up to trade on the concrete and timber boardwalks, and sheltering from the scorching sun beneath big umbrellas on their wooden longtail boats.

As at all of these markets, there’ll be a mix of vendors selling fresh local produce from surrounding farms, hot pre-prepared food they rose in the wee hours to make, or meals and snacks they’ll cook to order. Each woman will specialise in one, or at most, two or three, particular dishes or treats.

Try the pan-fried mussels, simmered so that they’re warm, plump and soft with a sticky texture different to the crisp-fried mussels typically found in Bangkok, and sprinkled with crunchy sprouts and served with chilli sauce.

The best photo opportunity is from the top of the diminutive wooden bridge, from where you’ll see boats for hire, disappearing down canals for a pleasant tour through lush tropical jungle. Here you’ll see women rowing their mobile eateries door to door and get to taste a caramel-like coconut sugar at an artisanal family factory.

Bang Noi Market
Slightly larger than Tha Ka, this charming laidback market has more character too, with wooden stilted boardwalks support traditional wooden houses that are home to grocery shops, funky cafés, a handful of chic boutiques, and even a few home-stays that draw locals and Bangkokians alike.

You’ll find food stalls clustered at the entrance near the temple where the tuk-tuk will drop you, as well as dotted around the boardwalk.

Where the canal meets the coffee-coloured river, you’ll find the characterful ‘Coffee Bang Noi’ café and at a stall opposite my favourite dish of all: mackerel fried rice served with fermented shrimp paste.

A specialty of Samut Songkram province, which is renowned for its mackerel and shrimp paste, it’s sprinkled with crispy slithers of garlic and shallots and served in an eco-friendly banana leaf bowl. Wash it down with a spring bitter cucumber juice.

On the opposite side of the canal, at the end of the boardwalk, sit yourself down at a long timber table for a bowl of hot kuay tiew moo nam dang or red noodle soup. More pink than red in colour, the slippery, silky noodles are handmade from a family recipe using pink tofu and that locally produced coconut sugar.

Amphawa Floating Market
Big, buzzy and artsy, Amphawa heaves with diners and shoppers in the late afternoon, becoming uncomfortably crowded for some, but the lively atmosphere is part of its appeal and the food second to none. Attracting a mix of local families and friends, Bangkok hipsters and Asian tourists, it’s Bangkok’s Chatuchak or ‘JJ’ Market on the water.

While the other markets can be visited in an hour or two each, Amphawa with its dozens of funky shops and cafés, busy eateries, atmospheric home-stays, and, more importantly, floating food stalls, warrants a few hours of your time.

Eating is a more organized affair here with boats bearing signs, prices, menus, and photos of dishes, and low benches running alongside the water’s edge with tiny plastic stools. Chilled music wafts from nearby cafés and live Thai country music and jazz bands perform at the bars, encouraging you to linger with cold beers.

In the yard at Charn Chala shophouse (ask for directions if you don’t spot it), try the mee krop or crispy deep fried noodles served with tamarind sauce, which has a distinct flavour due to its key ingredient, rosella flower. Wash it down with their butterfly pea drink, made to a recipe created by the king’s daughter, Princess Sirindhorn.

Like most of these markets, seafood is a specialty due to the waterside location and proximity to the sea. Choose a boat with a busy cook, sweating over a smoky barbecue and order whatever appears to be the most popular dish.

Our recommendation is a plate of grilled seafood doused with spicy sauce, preferably river prawns or cuttlefish or Sumut Songkram’s famous stir-fried razor clam or hoy lord pad cha. If you’re finding the miniscule plastic stools a challenge, settle into a seat at Chao Samran restaurant right by the water.

Save room for dessert at Sri Ma La Ice Cream, which specialises in homemade icecream flavoured with tropical fruits and flowers. Sugar apple, salted plum, lychee, butterfly pea, guava, and lotus milk are all scrumptious. Thais top theirs with sweet syrups like ma muang nam pla wan, mango with sweet fish sauce.

If all that eating has worn you out, enjoy a revitalizing massage on one of the spa boats, savouring the sunset from a bridge, then take to the water for a cruise to see the fireflies before you sleep your way back to Bangkok on the bus.

Getting there and away
The easiest way and the most fascinating for foodies is to visit all markets on Bangkok Food Tours’ Offbeat Floating Markets tour. The guides are friendly and knowledgeable, groups are small, and you’ll get to try lots of dishes including some we’ve written about, and more!

Note that the tour calls into the touristy Maeklong ‘train market’ on the way, where vendors with stalls skirting the tracks frantically move their produce each time a train trundles through, and also takes in a couple of other sights.

If you prefer to travel independently, you could hire a car and driver in Bangkok for the maximum comfort or take a mini-bus (90 minutes; every 20 minutes) to Amphawa from the mini-bus station beside Victory Monument BTS. Bus signs are in Thai so ask the ticket-seller to let you know when your bus is departing and point you in the right direction. (They are used to doing this.)

Once at Amphawa drop-off point, buy a return ticket (last bus back is at 8pm), so you don’t miss out on a place. The ticket-seller is also happy to call you a tuk tuk to the other markets. Start with Tha Ka in the morning, Bang Noi around midday, and leave Amphawa for the afternoon/evening. Negotiate for the driver to wait and return to you Amphawa.

If you wish to stay overnight, there are charming homestays at Amphawa that need to be booked in advance, though we’ve not tried these yet, and a boat tour to see fireflies to occupy you in the evening.

May 14

Weekend in Melbourne

Chin Chin, Melbourne, Victoria. Copyright 2014 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

When we lived in Sydney, Melbourne was one of our favourite frequent getaways for a weekend of eating, drinking and shopping. Here are our quick tips for a Weekend in Melbourne. Get a taste of its mouthwatering food scene here.

Check in

Stay in one of Melbourne’s city centre hotels if it’s your first trip to the city. The Metropol is sexy, The Hotel Windsor oozes history, and the Jasper is great if you’re on a budget. But if it’s not, consider family-owned boutique hotels such The Lyall or The Hatton in South Yarra or The Prince or Hotel Urban in St Kilda.

Friday Night

Queue for a table for Thai at buzzy Chin Chin — if the line’s long you sip a drink downstairs bar while you wait — or book a table at Rumi for authentic Lebanese. After do a bar hop, calling into quirky spots like Cookie and Croft Institute. More bar ideas here.

Saturday Morning

Melburnians love their coffee, so kick-start your day as the locals do with a coffee at one of the city’s countless cafés, such as our favourite, Market Lane. Do Hidden Secrets Lanes and Arcades tour for an introduction to Melbourne’s history, architecture, coffee scene, street art, and secret shops.

Saturday Lunch

Slip into Movida for a light lunch of tapas, Spice Temple for yum cha or Bistro Guillaume for a French classic, but save some room for later.

Saturday Afternoon

Browse the city’s most idiosyncratic boutiques and do some vintage shopping then indulge in another quintessentially Melbourne experience — afternoon tea at the Hotel Windsor.

Saturday Night

Sip some glasses of wine while the sun goes down at Siglo then dine downstairs at The European for the buzzy atmosphere as much as the comfort food. After, hit rooftop Madame Brussels for cocktails.

Sunday Morning

Graze your way around one of Melbourne’s mouthwatering local markets such as the Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne Market or Prahran Market, which all offer foodie tours.

Sunday Lunch

Head to Victoria Street for Vietnamese or if you like your food fiery to South Yarra for Dainty Sichuan.

Sunday Afternoon

Amble a park such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens or Albert Park, then hop on a tram to sprawl out on the sand at St Kilda Beach to savour the sunset.

Sunday Evening

Head to a pub, such as Middle Park Hotel, for a pub counter meal and boutique beers before your flight.

Getting there and around

Check out dialaflight for flights to Melbourne offered by many international airlines as well as air passes and fly-drive packages — handy if you extend your stay and add on a wine trip to the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. Take the SkyBus from Melbourne airport to Southern Cross Station. For info on using trams and buses, see our post on Melbourne on a Budget and for more ideas on how to spend a weekend in Melbourne see Weekend Notes which has lots of listings on events, tours and activities.

‘Weekend in…’ is a new series motivated by the many requests we get from readers and friends for itineraries to a places, the most common being for a short stopover, a weekend, three days, or a few weeks in a destination. With the imminent launch of our new site design we will be introducing a bespoke itinerary service that we have been offering on a request basis. Until then, if you have a destination for which you’d like to see an itinerary here on Grantourismo let us know in the comments below.

Apr 06

An Update from the Road: to Singapore via Phuket and back to Bangkok


Chinatown, Singapore. Copyright 2014 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

We’re back in Cambodia at our home in Siem Reap so this isn’t strictly an update from the road. Although I did start writing it in Singapore where I was feeling terribly guilty for having had to neglect poor Grantourismo because we were so busy working on print stories.

Terence and I have just returned from one of those trips we increasingly seem to have a tendency to do, where we end up staying in a place much longer than we’d ever intended to. Remember Vietnam? We flew into Hanoi at the end of 2013 for a month and seven months later we were still there. When they wouldn’t allow us to extend our visa anymore, we finally boarded a bus in Saigon for Phnom Penh.

The Singapore trip took us first to Phuket for a couple of nights to try the flamboyant new Iniala Beach House and Aziamendi restaurant, and interview the lovely Michelin three-starred Basque chef Eneko Atxa for stories for Australian Gourmet Traveller and Southeast Asian Globe, amongst other publications.

It was a couple of delicious nights (the first night was actually Terence’s birthday) spent eating the exquisite food of Eneko and his chef de cuisine Alex Burger, who is permanently based there, and the fresh, simple flavours of Iniala chef Sandro Aguilera. We’ll tell you more about that soon.

We then flew on to Singapore, again for Gourmet Traveller and a few other publications, but primarily to attend the San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna 2014 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards and participate in some of the excellent activities they organized this year. These included a Culinary Workshop with Chef David Thompson of Nahm restaurant in Bangkok (which was deservedly voted Asia’s Best for 2014) and an inspiring one-day Future of Food Forum, which I wrote about for Southeast Asian Globe, which we’ll also tell you more about shortly.

A two-week trip somehow turned into four weeks and I blame Singapore’s fantastic food. We spent most days interviewing fascinating chefs, Terence photographing beautiful dishes and making handsome portraits, and stuffing our faces with some of the finest food we’d had in a long time. Each day we’d find ourselves eating (often twice a day) at outstanding restaurants that really do deserve to be named some of Asia’s best, and in between we’d be tucking into local comfort food at hawker centres.

One evening, thanks to restaurateur Ignatius Chan, we dined on a wonderful degustation meal at his restaurant and then went hawker centre hopping. While sipping cocktails at his nearby bar after dinner, Iggy said, “Let’s do a Tets!” (as a hawker hop is something that Chef Tetsuya Wakuda apparently likes to do) and he hired a taxi to take us out to try a few of his favourite dishes.

You see, we’d been complaining to Iggy that we didn’t think we’d tried the best renditions of some of Singapore’s most popular local dishes yet (despite using supposedly reliable sources of information) and Iggy was intent on fixing that. And he did. I have no idea how we managed to fit in all that food. It was quite an achievement and it was lots of fun.

By the end of our month-long stay we had eaten at most of the Singapore restaurants on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, including Waku Ghin, Iggy’s, Les Amis, Jaan, and Tippling Club, and at many of the city’s other fine restaurants, such as Pollen, Catalunya, Esquina, Cut, Bacchanalia, db Bistro Moderne, Sky on 57, Osteria Mozza, Cassia, Skirt, Ku De Ta, and more.

Yet somehow we still left with a long list of restaurants that we had ran out of time to try that will be at the top of our to-try list for the next trip. Next time we’re keen to sample some of the smaller neighbourhood restaurants ran by Singaporean chefs who are experimenting with the local cuisine and those claiming to be using local produce — quite an achievement in an island-state with little land, where sustainability is a key issue. I have a dozen on my list so far but more recommendations are always welcome.

Aside from experiencing Singapore’s best restaurants, another goal of the trip had been to try as many of the finest interpretations and original renditions of Singapore’s most quintessential dishes as we could, at hawker centres and local eateries and wherever else they might be. That was the sort of food we’d eaten on previous visits.

Because this wasn’t our first trip to Singapore, of course. We’ve been countless times over the years, mainly on short stopovers between Australia and the UAE when we lived in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The most memorable trip was to fulfill my father’s dying wish to travel to Asia. We took Dad and Mum to Singapore and Malaysia (his doctors wouldn’t let him venture further), and it was a very special time spent together.

That was a fantastic trip when it came to the food too, both because of the company and the circumstances. We treasured every moment. My parents loved their food and we created lots of great food memories together, slurping soups, tucking into noodles, dipping into steamboats, and sucking on the claws of countless Singapore Chilli Crabs, the sauce from the crab dripping down our hands and arms, and washing it all down with icy beers.

Singapore Chilli Crab featured on this recent trip too. One of our first meals in the city was with a bunch of Bangkok restaurant friends who were in town for the Awards. We feasted on a fantastic, rich Chilli Crab with the sweetest and plumpest of crab meat, and at least a dozen other superb seafood dishes (that’s what happens when you let a chef order) at the legendary No Sign Board restaurant in Geylang. It was a fun night of feasting.

The next four weeks saw us eating everywhere from rowdy hawker centres, where we found ourselves standing in interminable queues (usually for Hainanese chicken and rice) and busy local coffee shops (for kopi, kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs, of course) to loud dim sum joints (for pau) and 24-hour curbside Muslim restaurants (for biryani and curries).

We also tested out cocktail bars, did a cooking class, browsed markets, and checked out Temple Street’s kitchen shops. We explored the artsy heritage area of Bras Basah, the busy commercial heart of Bugis, a Chinatown far more gentrified than when we were last in Singapore, the Muslim Malay neighbourhood of Kampong Glam with its increasingly hip little lanes, the Art Deco quarter of Tiong Bahru with its pockets of chic, and colourful Little India, where we felt some underlying racial tension, but that’s another story. Unlike previous trips, our visit to Orchard Road was very brief.

One month in Singapore may seem like a long time to stay in a city that most travellers treat as a stopover destination, yet somehow we still left feeling like we had really only just scratched the surface with a to-do list for the next trip longer than the one we started out with. But I always find that to be the way these days. Are we better at identifying places? Or are our appetites more insatiable?

From Singapore it was back to our second home Bangkok for eight nights for more magazine stories on the city’s best restaurants and food scene, on Chef David Thompson, and the restaurant movement toward heritage cuisine, regional/local cuisines and cooking ancestral food that we believe David and Bo and Dylan of Bo.lan inspired when they opened their restaurants four and five years ago respectively. Look out for that piece in the next issue of Bangkok Airways’ Fah Thai magazine and we’ll share more thoughts with you on that subject here as well.

This recent trip wasn’t solely about the food. In all three destinations we got to test out some truly outstanding hotels, from sleek, stylish properties like Capella and Park Royal Pickering in Singapore to the big luxury hotels in Bangkok like the Mandarin Oriental (which we’ve now been fortunate enough to stay at a few times), Metropolitan by Como (a second stay), and Siam Kempinski and Four Seasons (both firsts).

Checking in and out of hotels every two days is nothing new to us on these sorts of work trips, but twenty-one hotels (and one apartment!) in a row really got us thinking (again) about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to hotels, and what sort of things make a hotel truly great. Or terribly disappointing. More on that topic soon too.

And more on Phuket, Singapore and Bangkok, and all the delicious food we ate and things we did on the trip, as well as other destinations we are way behind in posting on, from Brisbane to Adelaide in Australia to all over New Zealand, and everywhere from Borneo and Kuala Lumpur to Northern Thailand and Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An, Sapa and Saigon.

Do look out for our print stories also. We have quite a lot out there at the moment, all featuring Terence’s mouthwatering images, including pieces in Travel+LeisureAsia on the foodie renaissance of Battambang (March issue), Hoi An’s best Six Dishes (April issue) and Siem Reap’s best Six Dishes (next issue). We’ve got stories in Australian Gourmet Traveller on Battambang’s Jaan Bai restaurant (issue before last), on Aziamendi in Phuket and a Singapore guide (next issue), and a Phuket guide (issue after).

We’ll also have a long foodie feature on Battambang and Cambodian cuisine in next month’s Delicious magazine. In Southeast Asia Globe there was a piece on Battambang’s Jaan Bai last issue, on food trends in Southeast Asia in the current issue, and on David Thompson in the next Interview issue. There’s a lot more coming out too, both in print and online, that I’ll update you on as the publications hit the stands.

Until then… it’s dinnertime and time to eat!

Apr 03

Authentic Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

Thai Beef Massaman Curry. Copyright 2014 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

An authentic beef Massaman curry is my favourite kind of Thai curry so there was no doubt I’d get around to making it sooner or later as part of our Year of Asian Cookbooks project. It’s the earthiness of Southern Thailand’s Massaman curry that makes this the most moreish of all curries. While the prep list is long and the cooking time requires the patience of a saint, it’s by far the most rewarding to make.

While writing up the Geng Gari Gai recipe for an aromatic chicken curry courtesy of Chef David Thompson I recalled that he always used to have a chicken Massaman (also spelt Mussaman and Matsaman) on his Nahm restaurant menu and not the beef that I always associated with this flavourful curry.

On our recent visit to the Chef’s Bangkok restaurant to interview him for some stories we’re working on, David told me that chicken was more commonly used in the curry outside of restaurants. I was always skeptical of the chicken version until I tasted David’s — it was brilliant — but I still preferred the slow-cooked beef version when I cooked at home.

There are different stories as to how this ‘foreign’ curry ended up a staple curry in the Thai cooking cannon. The most exotic story suggests it travelled from Persia to the Court of Ayutthaya in the sixteenth century. Another story goes that it was brought to southern Thailand by Arab or Indian traders. The use of popular Middle Eastern spices like cardamom and cloves is an indication of that ‘foreign’ influence, although in the present day recipes the use of Thai cardamom instead of Indian is preferred by most chefs because of its more subtle flavour.

Perhaps another indication of its roots in India, Persia (now Iran) or the Arab world is the version that uses lamb instead of chicken or beef. This recipe by Chef Ian Kittichai from his Issaya Siamese Club cookbook is one of my favourite lamb versions as he uses lamb shanks. You get the delicious flavour from the bones in the sauce and the lovely fall-off-the-bone tenderness in the meat that’s so desirable when making this dish.

Of course, being in Cambodia, lamb shanks are neither in the markets nor the supermarkets and is a special order item from a local restaurant wholesalers we occasionally sneak into, so I’ve used local beef instead and given how tough it is, I’ve cooked it for a really, really, long time.

While I’m using Chef Kittichai’s recipe, I couldn’t help but refer to David Thompson’s versions in his Thai Food cookbook as several things stand out.

While shrimp paste is almost mandatory in Thai curries, David uses no shrimp paste in his Massaman recipes, perhaps as a nod to the true origins of the dish. David also prefers to use cassia bark rather than cinnamon, which he says has a “richer and oilier flavour” that’s very well suited to such a powerful dish.

A quick note on toasting spices as Chef Kittichai roasts all of them off at once in this recipe. I have always wondered why chefs like David Thompson roast off all the spices separately, adding a lot of time to the making the dish. The answer was obvious when I asked David why he did it: “because they all take different amounts of time to roast,” he answered dryly. Of course.

Another thing to note in this recipe is the amounts of tamarind juice and fish sauce used. While Chef Kittiachai always says to add half the amounts of ‘seasoning’ (generally meaning things like fish sauce, tamarind or palm sugar) to begin to achieve the right balance, or rot chart in Thai, the amounts listed, in my opinion, are far greater than necessary.

I would start with a couple of tablespoons of both the tamarind juice and fish sauce and adjust as necessary as you go. As I have learnt from watching David at work in the kitchen on several occasions, perfecting a dish’s seasoning is really up to the individual chef.

As the flavours develop in a dish such as this over a couple of hours, you need to make sure you taste it often and adjust the seasoning to suit your palate — the recipe is a guide to get you to the point where you can make it your own.

Nam Prik Kaeng Matsaman (Massaman Curry Paste)

6 g coriander seeds
6 g cumin seeds
15 g coarse sea salt
1.5 g white peppercorns
30 g dried red finger chilli peppers
120 g lemongrass, finely sliced
120 g shallots, finely chopped
30 g garlic cloves
15 g galangal, finely sliced
3 g kaffir lime zest, grated
1 g kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
20 g Thai shrimp paste
6 g coriander root
1 g white cardamom
3 g cinnamon sticks
1 g cloves
30 ml vegetable oil
0.7 g nutmeg grated

1. In a dry pan, combine the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, white cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, white peppercorns, dried red finger chilli peppers and coarse sea salt and cook over moderate heat until the chillis brown. Place the spices in a mortar and finely grind or use a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Wrap shrimp paste in a section of banana leaf (or foil) and roast the parcel in a frying pan for one minute on each side. Remove shrimp paste from the parcel and set aside.
3. Pour oil in a pan and sauté shallots, garlic cloves, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and Thai shrimp paste until slightly browned. Remove the mixture from the heat.
4. When cool, place in a mortar with the ground spices, and add the nutmeg, coriander roots and lime zest and finely grind or use a food processor and blend until smooth.

Note that this curry can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Ingredients for the curry base
120 g Nam Phrik Kaeng Matsaman (Matsaman Curry Paste)
100 ml vegetable oil
1 litre coconut milk
250 ml water
80 g palm sugar
300 ml tamarind juice*
150 ml fish sauce*
20 Thai cardamom, whole
20 g cinnamon sticks, whole

Directions to make the curry base
1. In a saucepan, heat the curry paste and oil over high heat.
2. Add coconut milk and water and cook until boiling.
3. Reduce to medium heat, stir in palm sugar, tamarind juice, fish sauce, Thai cardamom and cinnamon sticks.

Ingredients for the Matsaman Neua (Beef Matsaman)
800 g beef shank or flank
30 ml vegetable oil
100 g potatoes, cubed and roasted or deep fried
50 g small shallots, whole, peeled and roasted or deep fried
2 g coriander sprigs

Directions for the Matsaman Neua (Beef Matsaman)
1. In a hot pan, add oil and sear off the beef pieces.
2. In a pan, bring Matsaman Curry to a boil.
3. Add beef to the curry and cook for two hours at a simmer.
4. The beef should be tender enough to pull apart with a fork, if not keep cooking for another hour or so.
5. When the beef is ready, remove from heat and garnish with coriander sprigs.
6. Serve with steamed jasmine rice on the side.

*Start with just a couple of tablespoons of each and adjust to your own taste as the dish develops.

This post is the latest in our A Year of Asian Cookbooks series. The last post was on a Southern Thailand Geng Gari Gai Aromatic Chicken Curry Recipe, courtesy of Chef David Thompson of Nahm Banbkok.

Mar 10

Monday Memories: a Return to Instagram and Food Photography

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Copyright 2014 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

It was this photo (above) that resulted in me giving up posting to Instagram just over a year ago. It didn’t happen straight after I posted the image, but a couple of months later when Lara asked me for the high-res, DSLR version of the image for a magazine story. But there was no high-res image. I’d never taken it. I was too busy feeding the Instagram beast.

There was, however, another reason. Instagram had been bought by Facebook, a company I loathe, and I had deleted my Facebook account months ago after a social media project where I thought I would need it finished. It’s not for me.

However, given that our work is generally driven by good, old-fashioned print assignments and that the ink drying on our print articles and photos for magazines tends to fall way out of sync with where we actually are, I recently decided to start posting photos on Instagram again.

To be honest, I missed the instant feedback resulting from posting an image of what we’re doing while on assignment. I can quickly see which images resonate with viewers on Instagram and while it’s not going to alter the shoot for a magazine client, I do pay attention to what images get the most likes. Why wouldn’t you?

Over the past 12 months we’ve also become much better at managing our time on shoots and interviews — even if we do tend to turn 30-minute interviews into 90-minute ones, we’ve still allocated time to taking a few snapshots to post to show you what we’re up to.

I think “Instagram works best in close up using details to capture a mood or feeling,” to quote Peter Springett, who had some nice things to say a few years ago about my use of the tool, when he wrote about a series of food shots I took documenting my laksa making experiments.

There’s been some stunning food to photograph — not to mention eat – here in Singapore (although we haven’t tried nearly enough laksa) so check out our food-tastic feed here:


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