Bangkok The Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure


Bangkok

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-We've packed our passports...

-And bought our phrasebooks.

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HE ATTEMPTS TO SPEAK THAI

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Because we're off on our biggest, craziest adventure yet.

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ALL: Delicious. Delicious. Meow, meow, eeee!

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HE SCREAMS LIKE TARZAN

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We're travelling further than we have ever done before.

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To uncover the authentic roots of Britain's favourite takeaway foods.

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I have always wanted to know how to make proper sweet-and-sour sauce.

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Going off the beaten track

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and being welcomed into some of Asia's hidden worlds.

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How marvellous is this?

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From the high rises and hot woks of Hong Kong...

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The heat on this is really, really intense,

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but listen, it's like a jet engine.

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LOUD BLOWING

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I love it!

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..to the sweltering tropics of Thailand...

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We love a tuk-tuk!

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..where they say it's impossible to eat badly.

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Thai food's arrived in Britain

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but by crikey, it's only the tip of the iceberg.

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We fulfil a lifelong ambition to explore Japan.

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That is perfect.

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Wow, look at that.

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I've just had a sushigasm!

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We finish up in South Korea

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where the spicy cuisine is sensational.

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This would go down a bomb down the local.

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So leather up and take to the road.

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For one extremely hairy...

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-BOTH:

-Asian adventure!

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We've arrived in Thailand for a two-week gastronomic journey

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that's guaranteed to set our taste buds on fire.

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This week, we're exploring and investigating the Central Plains,

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home to rice paddies, ancient capitals, spectacular ruins

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and the street food capital of the world, Bangkok.

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Central Thailand is the original home of the Thai food that we

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have come to know and love in the UK because most of the people who

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opened the first Thai restaurants in the UK came from this region.

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They gave us red curry, green curry, pad Thai and green papaya salad.

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But I can't wait to find out what else is on the menu, Kingy.

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Like millions of people each year, we're arriving at the gateway to

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it all, the capital city, Bangkok.

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It's the most visited city on the planet.

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MUSIC: One Night In Bangkok by A-Teens

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-Yes!

-We love a tuk-tuk!

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All through the city you can smell charcoal and pork and seafood.

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And all the lovely herbs. It's permeated the atmosphere.

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We've got a tuk-tuk. Oh, it's going to be lush.

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Bangkok is the street food capital of the world.

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There are an estimated half a million people

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hawking their food on the streets of Bangkok.

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That's nearly 5% of the entire population of Bangkok.

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Street food stalls were introduced to Bangkok in the late 19th-century

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by Chinese migrant workers who wanted cheap and quick places to eat.

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Street food is a national obsession.

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Many people say it's where true Thai cuisine can be found.

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Me and Dave here are looking forward to seeing if we can find it.

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Whether you work in a bank or building site,

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most locals buy street food at least once a day.

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We are meeting Daniel, a Canadian who has lived here for ten years

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and presents a web TV show about Thai culture and food.

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Daniel and his Thai friends know the best stalls to visit.

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-It is such a good way to eat.

-Something you can't replicate.

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You can't reproduce it.

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I think Thai restaurants around the world have tried to recreate

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that street food experience that people who come to

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Bangkok fall in love with.

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It is funny, you see some people at home in the guidebooks say,

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"You don't eat street food, you'll get sick." You live on it, you don't get sick!

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I will tell you a secret, I have lived in Thailand for 12 years,

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I eat street food every day.

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-I have been hospitalised once from a five-star hotel.

-There you are!

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Never from street food.

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Competition on the street is fierce, so many vendors

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specialise in just one dish which they become quite famous for.

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Some street vendors have more infrastructure than others.

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One day he'll have a chain!

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And with food this good

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and super cheap, no wonder many Bangkokians don't cook at all.

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In fact, many modern apartments are being built without kitchens.

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-You have ordered one of these to go home, right?

-Yeah.

-Have you?

-Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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-I have.

-That is the whole thing, isn't it? Everybody can take away.

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-Yeah, maybe I'm hungry about 10pm.

-And just eat.

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Just before you go to sleep!

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-It is the third and fourth meal. Thais have this insatiable appetite.

-Maybe the fifth.

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They can eat five or six meals a day.

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OK, this gets a little cramped but let's try and make our way in.

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Some stalls have a cult following and their owners are street food celebrities.

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The lady here, the cook, her name is Jay Fai, which means

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Auntie Fai in Thai. She is a legend, she is an institution.

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She has the freshest and the largest ingredients you will ever see.

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She is a little lady there but she is like a musician!

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She's basically on fire round there with five woks!

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-Let's go, let's meet her.

-And take a look.

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HE SPEAKS THAI

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Hello, Jay Fai!

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Do you know, I have noticed there is no gas here.

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This is on charcoal braziers with a fan blowing through. You should get a better taste.

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This is natural cooking. It's like a barbecue.

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And by the look of our first dish,

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Auntie Fai's reputation is well-deserved.

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Look at the size of that omelette. This is the crab omelette.

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Crab omelette is Jay Fai's signature dish.

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Unlike the French omelettes we eat at home, Thai omelettes are deep-fried

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so they are fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside.

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I think I am about to have one of those food epiphanies,

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that happens very rarely.

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Is it that good?

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It is amazing. It's so good it makes me giggle.

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We eat like kings, we eat like kings here.

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You do eat like kings. It's unreal!

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I wish I could verbalise it better but it is just unreal.

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With street food you can run the gamut from going for

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20 baht for a freshly-squeezed fruit juice to what is basically

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a Michelin-star quality meal all on the street.

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What I love about it, it is accessible. It's jeans, T-shirt and beer.

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But where food is concerned there is no compromising

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and for a lot of people it is a way of life.

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Come on!

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No sleep till bedtime - the night is young.

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Every morning, Bangkokians wake up to the worst traffic congestion in the world.

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There are five million cars here on roads built for just two million.

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Not to mention the 10,000 tuk-tuks.

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Tuk-tuk drivers spend two months of the year sitting

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stationary in traffic. Let's give them a break and cook for them.

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-I'll do spice chicken in pandan leaves.

-I'll do Thai fishcakes.

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# One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster! #

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Actually, it is spice chicken and pandan leaves if we are being pedantic.

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And with that I am going to do some home-made Thai fishcakes

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because I am so fed up with some of the commercially

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produced Thai fishcakes at home,

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you might as well serve your guests deep-fried beer mats.

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Home-made ones are brilliant.

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-To begin with, what we are doing here...

-It is not the size

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of your pestle and mortar that counts, it is what you do with it.

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But if one is blessed with a big one, you know,

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life is just that much sweeter.

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Sorry, man. I don't want you to get mortar envy.

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-Where did you get that?

-From the Big Boy's Pestle And Mortar Shop.

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In Thai cooking, the pestle and mortar is way more important than the knife.

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To get the full flavour out of the ingredients you have to crush them.

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What we are going to do is prepare the marinade for the chicken.

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It's very simple.

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Put four cloves of garlic into your mortar.

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And slice up a chunk of galangal.

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It's part of the ginger family and has a peppery taste.

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Along with some coriander root,

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the root actually has more flavour than the leaves.

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Hold on, we're on the move, dude, we're on the move! Did you put the brakes on?

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Put the chocks in!

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I tell you what, look, watch this. Right?

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Limes in Asia are used for everything.

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-A chock.

-Genius, Myers. Genius.

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Result? Safety.

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Right, to finish that delicious marinade for the chicken

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we need some of those essential Thai flavours.

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The most important is fish sauce.

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There are four key flavours in Thai cuisine - salty, sweet, sour and hot.

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Fish sauce is the salty.

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Palm sugar gives the marinade sweetness,

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but brown sugar is a good substitute.

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A pinch of white pepper.

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And some lime juice, just to give the marinade a sour kick.

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That is what I call a Thai massage, you know.

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Stick it in the fridge, half an hour, job's a good 'un.

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Obviously you can't make Thai fishcakes without fish.

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Sea bass is great if you are feeling posh

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but you can do it with a bit of old pollack or coley.

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There's that much spice going on you really can use cheap,

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sustainable fish. Here I've got some halibut.

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Really lovely, fresh, beautiful halibut.

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Really want to take the skin off. Manageable pieces.

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To flavour the diced fish, take one stick of lemon grass, top it and tail it,

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you just want the nice succulent bit in the middle,

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along with one kafir lime leaf, a big piece of galangal

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and one coriander root and its leaves.

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I am going to pound that together to make a paste in my jumbo-sized,

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super-duper, picture-of-envy pestle and mortar.

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Pop the fish in the mortar and add some Thai red curry paste,

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some palm sugar...

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..and an egg so that the fishcakes stick together.

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And these are snake beans.

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Which basically, they are like a long green bean.

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They are brilliant for this but at home you can use, and I do, use French beans.

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This gives them a bit of colour, a bit of bulk, they are lovely.

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And finally the inevitable Thai fish sauce.

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# Kumbaya, my Lord Kumbaya...#

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You kind of pound this until it becomes like jelly.

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And when it becomes jelly,

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at home you put it in the fridge for an hour to make it easier to handle.

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These are pandan leaves.

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You can get them at home, so don't go, "Can I get them at home?"

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You can. They're at the Asian supermarkets across the country.

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They impart a lovely flavour - slightly herbaceous, slightly sweet.

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It doesn't release any flavour until it is cooked.

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When it is boiled in rice pudding,

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or indeed deep-fried, it's worth it.

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So, what you do is you blanch them for about 30 seconds.

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Then wrap your chicken in the pandan leaf

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and push through a cocktail stick to hold it all together.

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Now we are going to fry these babies in a minute.

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I'm ready, Kingy. Look at that - the texture is so smooth.

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Right, now you need wet hands for this or

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otherwise it is like trying to put a jellyfish in a vest.

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It is kind of awkward. Wet your hands.

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Take a portion of your fish and make them into little patties.

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And that is your first fishcake. Put then on some flour and just repeat.

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Good tip, they freeze fantastically well.

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Put then on a sheet of silicon baking parchment and freeze them and

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when you have your dinner party, you can do 50 or 60 of them at a time.

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And you can't have a fishcake without a dip. Mine is honey and cucumber.

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It's more of a salsa than a sauce.

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Two tablespoons of rice vinegar, some runny honey,

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some lime juice and a drop of water.

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And one tablespoon of the inevitable, the irreplaceable,

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the ever-present Thai fish sauce.

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I now add in some chopped carrot, cucumber and a load of chilli

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and some shaven shallots. Try saying that quickly!

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Leave that to stand for half an hour to an hour for the flavours to develop.

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One of my favourite things, this.

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-Now that's a bit of kick, Kingy.

-It's a great cart, this, isn't it?

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It is, it is.

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We've got a built-in wok thermulator and I have a gas bottle here.

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I'm shallow frying, he's deep frying.

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I've some got a bit of groundnut oil in here, heat it up, shallow fry till golden.

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And basically, for the spiced chicken pandan,

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you will see the edges start to go a little golden brown

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and that's what you want.

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Look at that! These Thai fishcakes are about as perfect as you get.

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Watch out, Dave, I think the tuk-tuk boys can smell the cooking!

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-I like spicy!

-You don't have to worry about that, I tell you!

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Eh?

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-That sauce, you could run your tuk-tuk on it.

-See you soon, boys!

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Dude, your dipping sauce has a lot to live up to now, I tell you.

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Right, better serve these Thai goodies up to our tuk-tuk mates.

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Right, boys!

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It's been a long wait, I know. Here we go.

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-Help yourself.

-Very good!

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Very good!

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Mmmm!

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-Champion!

-Champion! Ha-ha!

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Genius!

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How long have you been tuk-tuk drivers? How many years?

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-Ten years, I've been working here.

-Seven years.

-Do you enjoy it?

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-Yes.

-Good fun?

-More?

-BOTH: Yes!

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Help yourself, man!

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Have a chilli.

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I think it is going down very well, you know. Guys, thank you.

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-Nice to meet you.

-Thank you very much!

-Thank you so much.

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You know, I've adored my time in Bangkok

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-but I'm ready to hit the road, aren't you, mate?

-Too right.

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Let's head north.

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-There's one Thai dish we simply have to see at source.

-What's that, mate?

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Rice, of course.

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And here in the Central Plains is where they grow the bulk of it.

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It's known as the Rice Bowl of Asia.

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Over nine million hectares of land is used to grow the grain.

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That's an area 4½ times the size of Wales.

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Hey, would you look at that, Kingy?

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Somebody's let that turf go to seed.

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You won't be playing cricket on that in a hurry.

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It's not turf, man, it's rice.

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This organic farm produces jasmine rice.

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Oh, wow, look at that!

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-That's what you call organised gardening.

-Isn't it?

-I love it.

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Square fields. Square boxes.

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Hello.

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We're meeting Gong, who's one of the locals, and the paddy field

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workers who are going to initiate us in the art of rice growing.

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Hello, nice to meet you.

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So, Gong, how many times a year does rice crop?

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HE SPEAKS THAI

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-Two.

-Two.

-Two times a year.

-Two times a year.

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-At the moment, are you planting rice or harvesting rice?

-Planting now.

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-Planting now.

-And what's the hardest work - planting or harvesting?

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-For them it's all the same.

-It's all the same!

-They get used to it.

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It's funny, I thought they may say that. It's funny that.

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I think we need to go to work, Mr King.

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-I've never planted rice in my life.

-No, we're rice-planting virgins.

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We are. Which is a worry.

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Planting rice is done mechanically as well as by hand

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but today the machine is up the spout. So it's all hands on deck.

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Come on, you, let's go to the field.

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'Watch your step, Kingy!'

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LAUGHTER

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Dude!

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SI LAUGHS AND SNORTS

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I don't think we're going to get back over the bridge.

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I think it's time to go back on the diet!

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I never knew that planting rice could be such fun.

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I suppose we'd better get cracking.

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So, here's how rice grows.

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It starts as a seed which gets sewn into trays and then the trays

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get put into nursery beds in the paddy fields to germinate.

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20 days later, the shoots have grown big enough to be separated out

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and planted in the main beds of the paddy field

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to grow into...guess what? Rice.

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Do you want me to show you how to do it?

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You take it out and then use your thumb to put it in.

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And then use your index finger to put it back.

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Nice.

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So, how long have you been doing it?

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SHE SPEAKS THAI

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-30 years.

-30 years?

-She's 51 years old today.

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She is not. Today?

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# Happy birthday to you

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# Happy birthday to you

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# Happy birthday dear Pedang

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# Happy birthday to you. #

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We've done about kind of six square metres since we've been here.

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I mean, how much a day would you be expected to do?

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These three ladies, in a day,

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-they've probably got about 1,600 square metres.

-Wow!

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'That's about the size of six tennis courts.'

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I tell you, Kingy, this is hard work, isn't it?

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-It is, it's ridiculous.

-It's hot.

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And all that hard work pays off.

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These paddy fields produce about 50 tonnes of rice a year.

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Do you know what, Kingy?

0:20:140:20:15

We've done our share of backbreaking work

0:20:150:20:17

but I think this has got to be the most backbreaking of the lot.

0:20:170:20:21

-It certainly has.

-I'll never take me jasmine rice for granted.

0:20:210:20:25

Just three months after the rice is planted,

0:20:250:20:29

Pedang and her mates will harvest it and dry it.

0:20:290:20:31

And then it is threshed by machine to get the rice grains out.

0:20:310:20:35

What we've got here at the moment is just brown rice.

0:20:350:20:37

-We could cook that and it would be the chewy brown rice that is very healthy.

-Yeah, it is.

0:20:370:20:42

And if you take the outside bran off,

0:20:420:20:44

you will find the white jasmine rice underneath.

0:20:440:20:47

When the sun gets too high and too hot, everyone downs tools

0:20:480:20:52

and chips in to make lunch.

0:20:520:20:54

So, Gong, what would be the typical meal of the day?

0:20:550:20:58

They finish work, they all want to eat together for lunch.

0:20:580:21:01

-Is this what they would cook?

-This is normal for her.

0:21:010:21:04

Vegetable or bamboo shoot cooked with any kind of meat that's available.

0:21:040:21:09

And today the meat is chicken

0:21:090:21:11

and a fish they caught in the paddy field.

0:21:110:21:13

-Wow! Beautiful!

-What a beautiful fish.

0:21:130:21:17

They put fish in the water here to eat the weeds and the bugs

0:21:170:21:20

and the fish droppings help fertilise the water.

0:21:200:21:23

-A little paddy field treat.

-Lush, isn't it? That's a top tip.

0:21:240:21:27

You see, if you slash the fish,

0:21:270:21:29

and slash the thickest part of the skin, it cooks evenly.

0:21:290:21:33

This isn't bad for a working lunch, is it, Si?

0:21:340:21:36

It certainly beats having a sandwich and a packet of crisps.

0:21:360:21:40

-This is the Thai style of eating rice.

-It's lovely.

-On the floor.

0:21:400:21:44

That's better. Rice.

0:21:440:21:48

What have we got here? We have the deep-fried paddy field fish,

0:21:480:21:53

we've got bamboo shoots with a clear chicken broth,

0:21:530:21:57

we've got cooked aubergines, fresh aubergine

0:21:570:22:00

and that lovely chilli dip.

0:22:000:22:02

-Chilli dip we call nam pla.

-Nam pla.

-Yes.

0:22:020:22:05

Oh, wow! And for your birthday, are you enjoying your food?

0:22:050:22:09

HE SPEAKS THAI

0:22:090:22:12

LAUGHTER

0:22:120:22:13

Happy birthday, happy birthday.

0:22:130:22:16

-And thank you for cooking us supper on your birthday.

-Yes, thank you.

0:22:160:22:21

I know I've said it before, Si, but I'm never going to

0:22:280:22:31

take my rice for granted again.

0:22:310:22:33

Back on our bikes and heading for the ancient capital of Thailand.

0:22:430:22:47

This is the life, Kingy.

0:22:470:22:49

Founded in 1350, in its heyday,

0:22:490:22:53

Ayutthaya was one of the most spectacular cities in the world.

0:22:530:22:56

Ayutthaya was on the ancient trading routes between India and China,

0:22:580:23:02

and traders from all over the world

0:23:020:23:04

brought new flavours and spices here.

0:23:040:23:06

The chefs in the royal palaces here

0:23:080:23:10

took full advantage of these exciting ingredients.

0:23:100:23:13

They were in fierce competition with one another

0:23:130:23:16

to create the most exquisite dishes to please their king,

0:23:160:23:19

who has godlike status in Thailand.

0:23:190:23:22

So this is where it all began, that exciting alchemy of Thai cuisine

0:23:220:23:27

that you see everywhere today, from street food to schools,

0:23:270:23:30

it started here.

0:23:300:23:32

Do you know, Si, you can feel the serenity, the beauty,

0:23:320:23:36

-the age of this place, can't you?

-You can, yeah.

0:23:360:23:40

It's funny, this. I recognise it.

0:23:400:23:41

I think I've cleared this level on Tomb Raider.

0:23:410:23:44

-I mean, it's massive.

-It's a city.

0:23:460:23:48

And it was a city, one of the most important places on the planet,

0:23:480:23:52

for not just religion but for trade, for spirituality, for food.

0:23:520:23:57

-Ooh! For food.

-I have an idea.

-Do you?

-I fancy a salad.

0:23:570:24:01

As a celebration of the role

0:24:030:24:04

Ayutthaya played in creating the Thai food we know and love back home,

0:24:040:24:08

we're going to create our own special dish.

0:24:080:24:11

This salad is a melange.

0:24:130:24:15

It's crispy noodles,

0:24:150:24:16

surmounted with prawns and crab

0:24:160:24:18

and all manner of good things and herbs, which will become clear

0:24:180:24:21

when we start cooking it.

0:24:210:24:22

Now, these are vermicelli noodles.

0:24:220:24:24

You deep fry these until they're golden and crispy.

0:24:240:24:27

And vermicelli noodles are made from rice.

0:24:270:24:30

So if you've got a wheat allergy, you're a blotcher or wheezer,

0:24:300:24:33

you're all right with vermicelli noodles.

0:24:330:24:35

What's most important when doing this sort of thing,

0:24:350:24:38

you have to make sure that your fat's hot enough. And it's not.

0:24:380:24:41

Kicking off, I'm making the salad dressing

0:24:430:24:45

with the inevitable Thai fish sauce...

0:24:450:24:47

Five.

0:24:470:24:49

..some lime juice

0:24:490:24:51

and a bit of palm sugar.

0:24:510:24:52

Then thinly slice five Thai shallots.

0:24:550:24:58

If you haven't got Thai shallots, just use one banana shallot.

0:24:580:25:02

Then grate up some galangal, ginger and garlic.

0:25:020:25:05

Now then, when the oil is hot enough,

0:25:070:25:09

what you do...

0:25:090:25:10

..take a good handful of noodle,

0:25:110:25:13

pop them in like that. Whoa!

0:25:130:25:16

That's what you're after.

0:25:160:25:18

Let them cook for about 30 seconds,

0:25:180:25:20

turn them over, cook them on the other side, take them out,

0:25:200:25:23

so you're looking at about a minute. And again.

0:25:230:25:25

Whoa!

0:25:270:25:29

Joking apart, do take care if you're doing this at home.

0:25:290:25:31

Have a fire blanket there

0:25:310:25:33

because you'll burn yourself if you're not careful,

0:25:330:25:36

and we don't want that.

0:25:360:25:37

Go on, give us one more go. I like this, it's great.

0:25:370:25:40

It's kind of a cross between deep frying and pyromania.

0:25:400:25:42

THEY LAUGH

0:25:420:25:44

Watch. Are you ready?

0:25:440:25:45

Aw! Hey, man, how cool is that?

0:25:490:25:52

Do you know, Kingy,

0:25:520:25:54

this is like getting the lawn at Hampton Court and doing a fry-up!

0:25:540:25:57

I know! We don't want to get chucked out.

0:25:570:26:00

Now take the thinly sliced shallots

0:26:020:26:04

and shallow fry them until they're crispy.

0:26:040:26:06

This will give a lovely crunch to the salad.

0:26:060:26:10

Meanwhile, make strips out of the three kaffir lime leaves,

0:26:100:26:13

and then chop up some spring onion.

0:26:130:26:15

The salad, the shallots go in.

0:26:150:26:18

And then...

0:26:180:26:19

King prawns, some with the shell off, some with the shell on,

0:26:190:26:22

and just stir-fry them nice and quick.

0:26:220:26:24

-Beauty.

-They are fantastic prawns, aren't they?

-Aren't they?

0:26:270:26:30

To the prawns, add the galangal,

0:26:300:26:33

the ginger and the garlic.

0:26:330:26:35

And just saute, but take care not to burn the garlic.

0:26:350:26:39

Literally, that should take about a minute. No longer.

0:26:390:26:42

But if you're going to have a salad, this really is an epic salad.

0:26:420:26:45

It's absolutely bursting with textures, flavours.

0:26:450:26:48

You've got your carbohydrate, your protein, your spice.

0:26:480:26:51

-Now those go in the bowl.

-Put those on top of the crispy shallots.

0:26:510:26:55

Now we start building.

0:26:560:26:58

Pop in the spring onions,

0:26:590:27:01

a handful of beansprouts, and as much crab as you like,

0:27:010:27:05

then rip up a generous amount of mint and some coriander.

0:27:050:27:09

As you can see, all that palm sugar has dissolved with the fish sauce

0:27:130:27:17

and the lime juice.

0:27:170:27:19

-Now the best way for this is...

-With your hands.

0:27:190:27:22

Yeah, cos you don't want to break the herbs up or smash the meat up.

0:27:220:27:25

-Mm-mm-mm!

-Ready for the build?

0:27:270:27:29

So, nice and gentle.

0:27:290:27:30

Then take your deep-fried vermicelli

0:27:330:27:35

and layer the salad on top.

0:27:350:27:37

Along with some chopped red chillies and chunks of lime.

0:27:410:27:46

Now, that, that's a salad, isn't it?

0:27:460:27:49

That's our homage to this beautiful place

0:27:500:27:53

and the beautiful country that is Thailand.

0:27:530:27:55

-What a place to have supper.

-Really good, isn't it?

0:28:000:28:03

You know, the truth of it is,

0:28:030:28:05

these blends of flavours all began in this ancient city.

0:28:050:28:09

You know, Kingy, people said it's impossible to eat badly in Thailand,

0:28:110:28:15

and they were right.

0:28:150:28:16

Yes, and even though we've eaten a mind-boggling amount of amazing food,

0:28:160:28:21

I can't help feeling we've only scratched the surface.

0:28:210:28:24

Our work here, mucker, is far from done.

0:28:240:28:27

Ah, well, it's a tough job but someone's got to do it.

0:28:270:28:30

The Hairy Bikers arrive in Thailand. In Bangkok, they enjoy a night out exploring the street food capital of the world. In the central plains, things get much tougher as they learn how to grow and harvest rice.


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