Upon arrival in Bangkok in the late morning, we immediately checked into the hotel, dumped our luggage in the room and then headed off to visit a local travel agent. This is to book our trip the next morning to the floating market. The most famous floating market, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, operates on Saturday and Sunday, and is located about 80km outskirts of Bangkok city in Ratchaburi province. The Damnoen Saduak canal was ordered to be built in 1866 by King Rama IV of the Chakri Dynasty to facilitate waterborne travels between Ratchaburi and Samutsakhon Provinces. It was finished and opened to the public in 1868. Nowadays, apart from providing transportation, Damnoen Saduak canal also provides local farmers with adequate water for agricultural purposes. A number of canals were dug to connect with it by local peasants to get water to splatter their land. As the excellent quality soil along the canal is very fertile, the area has a high potential for producing various kinds of fruits and vegetables.
The hustle and bustle of the Sunday market greeted us when we arrived. There were small paddle boats and motorized boats going up and down the canals. It was totally chaotic; crowded with tourist, locals and local peddlers selling fruits, cooked food, souvenirs and all sorts of other goods. I mentioned to my husband that not only were the streets in Bangkok city packed with traffic, it was also the same at the floating market. Even with the crowd and noise, we were totally absorbing in our surroundings and were thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We even tasted some of the cooked food that was being sold from the wooden paddle boats.
On top of sharing some of the photos which we took at the floating market, I also want to share a very popular Thai dish with you. Just by looking at the photos, you will immediately know what dish I'm referring to .... it's none other than Tom Yum Goong. I made this dish one week after we returned, maybe to bring back some fond memories of our recent Bangkok trip.
Tom Yum Goong (King Prawn Soup with Chilli and Lime)
Recipe adapted from Lemongrass & Sweet Basil by Khamtane Signavong)
1 litre fish stock (you can either use home-made stock or canned stock. I used cube bullion stock)
1 lemongrass stalk, sliced into rings
4 slices of galangal
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 1/2 Tbsp roasted chilli paste** (you can use bottled Thai chilli paste which can be purchased from an Asian grocery shop)
4 hot chillies, or to taste
8 straw or button mushrooms, quartered
8 raw king prawns, shelled and deveined
4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
4 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp chopped coriander
1 Tbsp finely sliced spring onion
8 coriander leaves, to garnish
1) Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan, add the lemongrass, galangar, kaffir lime leaves and roasted chilli paste and simmer for about 20 minutes.
2) Increase the heat and bring to the boil, add the chilli and mushrooms and bring back to the boil. Add the king prawns, cook for 2 minutes then add the lime juice, fish sauce, chopped coriander and spring onion. Stir together briefly and serve garnished with coriander leaves.
**Roasted Red Chilli Paste (Nam Prik Pao)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
15 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
5 shallots, peeled and chopped
5 dried red chillies, deseeded and soaked in warm water
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 Tbsp palm sugar
1 Tbsp tamarind juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1) Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat, add the garlic and shallots and fry until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
2) Add the chillies and fry until brown. In a mortar (you can use a blender), pound the chillies, garlic, shallots and shrimp paste until fine and return to the work along with the palm sugar, tamarind juice and salt. Stir-fry over a low heat until the mixture has aromatized and thickened. This paste can be kept in a jar for up to 3 months, top up with vegetable oil to prevent drying.