Night Market, Searching for Street Food
Street Food, the two words that describe a food lovers dream in Thailand and there’s no better place to dive in head first than at the local night market… Every night, we have got into the habit of heading to our local night market to wander around snacking at will, absorbing all the sounds, sights and smells and seeking out our favourite vendors to see what’s on offer.
By day, its just a normal street…
…but at 5pm the street is transformed into a bustling Night Market
There are lots of things that aren’t vegan and so there are a few pitfalls for the vegan night market wanderer. Best thing is to use lots of pointing and actions and repeat a few key Thai phrases which try to get the point of veganism across, do a lot of smiling in the hope this endears the vendor to you so they won’t stitch you up, and then just hope for the best!
This mainly works, apart from the time that I mistakenly took some weird fried processed chicken sausage for fried tofu on a stick.
The vendor definitely agreed with me that it was ok for me to eat and even though I had a weird feeling that I shouldn’t eat it, I jumped right in a took a bite, only to spit it out as soon as the taste hit and then spend the rest of the evening muttering about ‘disgusting processed meat’ and ‘food poisoning’ and wondering aloud how anyone could eat that rubbish (add ‘public health crisis’ to the list of mutterings). Luckily TravelMush is very used to, and well practiced at, ignoring me in this mood.
On the whole though, the night market is an awesome place to eat vegan food. Our local market has a lovely young woman who sells the most fabulous teriyaki mushroom skewers. Mushroom Girl has made a fortune out of us because her skewers aren’t the cheapest and can be consumed in quantity because at the end of the day they are just mushrooms but also because they are amazingly delicious! She griddles them, paints on extra sauce, griddles them some more so they are caramelised then she puts them in a little plastic bag and ladles over some kind of spicy sauce made from chillies (she tells me there is no fish sauce in it).
Then there’s Sweetcorn Lady who has a big pot of freshly shucked and steamed sweetcorn which she’ll scoop into a cup for you (and leave out the extra butter and sugar in line with our pointing and gesturing). This sweetcorn delight can also be served with freshly shredded coconut, which is lovely too but there’s something very satisfying about our plain old steamed cup of corn so I always go for that.
Sweetcorn Lady’s wares
My two favourite vendors though are Mango Lady and Khanom Krok Lady. Mango Lady has to be the friendliest person at the night market, I love our cheery exchanges in my broken Thai and her broken English proving that a big smile can go a long way in the world. It’s the happiest fruit buying interaction I have ever experienced, plus she sells juicy ripe Asian mangoes (the yellow ones) that ooze sticky mango syrup from their stalks because they are so ripe. Every day we buy two for our breakfast the following morning and when we cut them open the heavenly mango juice literally pours out.
Mango Lady does a side line in mango sticky rice too, a cold dessert that consists of Asian mango, sticky rice, a sugary salty coconut milk sauce and some crunchy yellow dried (or fired?) miniature salty beans that are scattered over the top. It’s a pretty hefty dessert but it tastes so good that once you start eating it, its easy to finish it to the end (and then fancy some more).
Khanom Krok Lady earns her place in my Trang night market favourites simply because she sells the best Khanom Krok in Trang. These little coconut delights are so good that I swear I have become addicted to them. Today I even went back for seconds (I did warn you I was a greedy guts, plus I am having to share with TravelMush so technically I’m on half portions anyway).
Khanom Krok lady’s wares
And the best thing about the night market (other than the fabulous food, cheap prices, interesting characters, great smells, the simplicity of it)? It happens every night!