Due to the elaborate making processes, a lot of old-school Thai dishes have been neglected and have started to disappear.
In my own patriotic way of preserving Thai culture, I make it a point to learn a rare recipe every time I visit home.
This year, I had my heart set on making two traditional Thai snacks called ‘Khanom Jeab Nok’ (bird dumpling) and ‘Chor muang’ (purple bouquet). They are flour dumplings stuffed with sweetened pork, chicken or shrimp.
My good friend Bow Suthida and I went to Thai Dessert Preservation Center to learn the age-old wisdom on how to craft these snacks.
The stuffing is fairly easy to make. All you need to do is to mix together chopped cilantro root, chopped fried shallots, grounded peanuts, preserved radish, meat, pepper, salt and sugar into a thick, sticky paste.
But the dumpling requires a long and meticulous process to wrap and ‘sculpt’ the dumpling into a beautiful shape.
To make these snacks, the most important ingredient you need is a copious amount of willpower.
It took us almost 4 hours to make just 20 dumplings.
I have been told that a single Chor Muang with an intricate shape and details can be sold up to 25 baht. (For context, a full meal on the street is about 40 – 70 baht). It’s no wonder why people don’t eat and appreciate these dishes anymore.
Truth be told, I don’t think I will be making these dishes on a regular basis. They are very difficult to make. But I do intend to practice to the point where I feel comfortable serving these dishes to my friends.
When I’m blessed with such a beautiful tradition and culture, I’m proud to show it off.