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'We've packed our passports...'
'..and bought our phrase books.'
HE TRIES TO SPEAK JAPANESE
'Because we're off on our biggest, craziest adventure yet.'
Meow, meow! Eee!
HE BELLOWS LIKE TARZAN
'We're travelling further than we've ever done before...'
'..to uncover the authentic roots of Britain's favourite takeaway foods.'
I've always wanted and know how to make proper sweet-and-sour sauce.
'Going off the beaten track
'and being welcomed into some of Asia's hidden worlds.'
How marvellous is this?
'From the high-rises and hot woks of Hong Kong...'
The heat on this is really, really intense.
But, listen, it's like a jet engine.
GAS BURNER ROARS
I love it!
'..to the sweltering tropics of Thailand...'
We love a tuk-tuk!
'..where they say it's impossible to eat badly.'
Thai food's arrived in Britain
but, by crikey, it's only the tip of the iceberg.
'And we fulfil a lifelong ambition to explore Japan.'
-That is perfect.
-Wow, look at that!
I've just had a sushi-gasm.
'We finish up in South Korea,
where the spicy cuisine is sensational.'
This would go down a bomb down the local.
'So leather up and take to the road...'
'..for one extremely hairy...
BOTH: '..Asian Adventure!'
Ah, mind, it's lovely here, Dave, in Thailand, isn't it?
The place where us Brits have come to know and love
for a bit of quality R&R.
Ah, we came here, tasted the great food
and that's how we developed our palate,
the love for Thai flavours that we adore at home.
We've got a taste for the coconut and the spicy curry
and the old exotic fruits, haven't we?
Ooh, aye, but there's more to exotic fruit than just pineapple!
I mean, we've got custard apples, durian, mangosteen,
pawpaw, rambutan to name but a few.
-Fancy a "paw pi ped"?
That's baked tiger king prawns, red curry in crab sauce with green veg.
Will you shut up?
Thailand has a wildly varying landscape
and a rich multicultural past.
Its place on the ancient spice routes between East and West
brought traders and ingredients from all over the world to its shores.
The result? One of the most varied cuisines on the planet
and we can't wait to try as much of it as possible.
We are starting in Phuket,
the largest of all the islands in the south.
It used to be the perfect stopover
for traders sheltering from the monsoons.
This coastline would have been the first to see the spices
and produce from places like Persia, India and, of course, Europe.
It's a melting pot that's typical of Thai cuisine.
The re-occurring theme of adopting and adapting over the years
is what has given us the flavours of Thailand
that we've known to come and love at home.
You're absolutely right.
Today, Phuket is the destination of choice
for many of the 22 million visitors who come to Thailand every year.
We're catching up with one person who remembers it like it was.
He is Mom Tri, a food lover and architect
who built some of the first hotels here.
Mom Tri, good morning. I'm Si. Very nice to meet you.
-Very nice to meet you. How are you this morning?
-Nice to meet you.
Well, what a great day for a walk on the beach.
You live in Bangkok most of the time, or...?
I live in Bangkok, in Chiang Mai, in Phuket and in...
-A nice life!
What was it like, Mom Tri, when you first arrived?
Because you are responsible for bringing tourism to Phuket,
-aren't you, really?
-Yes. And, um...
maybe ruining it, too!
-From my point of view.
-From your point of view, OK.
Because when I arrived here 40 years ago, there was absolutely nothing -
nothing except for naked, beautiful, young hippies.
-The hippies always discover the best places in the world first.
I bet, though, in the village, there are still some casualties there.
I bet there are still some of those original hippies.
Or is it just you?
They've all gotten very rich and fly private jets now!
There's nothing like a hippy that's got rich.
'There are restaurants and hotels catering to all tastes in Phuket.
'But we're after the real deal,
'so who better to serve us up an authentic Southern Thai breakfast
'than our new foodie friend, Mom Tri?'
-This is a very grand breakfast.
-It is a very grand breakfast, isn't it?
Well, it's a common breakfast but it's set very grandly.
It's the curry that is the main part.
-Good grief. Crumbs!
I feel like the King of Siam at the moment, faced with this.
Is this what people would have and eat for breakfast in Phuket?
Yeah. At home, it's probably simpler,
but people would choose one or two or three curries.
-So there's eight curries here.
Each one of them you'll find it's a quite different taste.
This one is made from shrimp paste.
That is beef curry and that's chicken curry.
This is simply Thai food we wouldn't get at home.
That's a sweet one with some nuts.
I think there's maybe some tamarind in there as well.
'The spice, tamarind, is originally from Goa in India.
'You can taste straight away how the spice trade
'has influenced the food here!'
In the old days, it used to be all very hot.
These days, because of mainly Bangkok and tourists coming to Thailand,
I've noticed that the degree of hotness
has been reduced quite a bit.
-But in the old days I couldn't eat this. Too, too...
The fresh pineapple I use as a fire extinguisher if it gets too hot.
This is AMAZING food! It's amazing.
-But they all balance together really nicely.
You know, one flavour, complements another.
It's the most exciting gastronomic experience I think I've ever had.
Because you build all sorts of little flavours to your own palate.
'You know, Si, I love the fact that the spices in each curry
'are like a little taste of Thailand's history.'
'Now, enough of this blathering, Dave, I'm roasting.
'So let's work out what we're going to cook.'
'You know, coconut is in everything here in southern Thailand,
'so in honour of this humble, hairy ingredient,
'we're headed to the beach to cook a delicious Thai dessert.'
What the hell have you come as?
We're meant to be funky young things on the beach!
You look like an organ grinder!
-You know what you look like, don't you?
I've just come back from yoga. It's loose, it's comfortable.
Enables me to get into the positions where hitherto I couldn't.
Anyway, down to business, we're going to be cooking
a coconut sticky rice salad.
And what we're going to do is we're going to have a lovely papaya
and lime, mmm... "gorgifousness", cornucopia, melody!
'One of the most popular desserts in Southern Thailand is
'mango and coconut sticky rice pudding.
'But we found a lovely, ripe papaya and decided to use that instead.'
-I think it will work a treat.
-I think it will, too.
It's going to either work well in Phuket or in Peterborough.
-Yes, I'd better get started.
Sticky rice is a glutinous rice. It's basically a short-grain rice
and it tends to go mushy. And you soak the rice in water
for about four hours and it tends to go glutinous.
Now, a lot of people say you should wash that rice before you do it
but the idea of sticky rice is that it's sticky
so, I think, keep the starch in. When it's soaked
pop it in a steamer like this...
and just steam it for half an hour. We've just made this lovely, little
woven mat of bamboo leaf as well. At home you could use greaseproof.
Just leave that to steam until it looks like...
well, a jellyfish that's been out in the sun.
We want it sticky - boing, boing, boing.
'And, while the rice is cooking, prepare the papaya.
'Or pawpaw as it's also known.'
'Next, add the zest of an unwaxed lime and squeeze in the juice.'
Ready to be served with Mr Myers' coconut sticky rice - I thank you!
We need to do an infused coconut milk.
-And you kind of mix that with the sticky rice.
It's a two-part cookery. So I've got coconut milk...
And you can use half-fat coconut milk if you are a porker.
It is better for you. Some salt,
some palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, that's all you need.
And it's like this wonderful... taste of paradise.
'Let's get started - light your hob.
'Pour some coconut milk into a saucepan.
'Add a pinch of salt, some palm sugar
'and kaffir lime leaves.
'You can get both of these at the bigger supermarkets
'and just keep stirring until the palm sugar's dissolved
'and it comes to a gentle simmer. Then leave to cool.'
I wonder if me rice is getting sticky?
Here, what's going on with the dogs?
-Aren't they beautiful? It's like me and you that, know what I mean?
Hey, dude, maybe that's it, maybe it's been sent by the spirits
-of the island?
-Yeah. It's a Buddhist version of us.
Freaky, dude, freaky.
'Once your rice is nice and sticky it's time to pour in the coconut
'mixture. But keep a little back.'
'Now we're going local. And using little bamboo baskets
'lined with banana leaves as our bowls.
'Load them up and drizzle the remaining coconut milk over.
'And a little lime leaf finishes it all off nicely.'
'And that's your coconut sticky rice pudding with papaya
'drizzled in lime juice.'
Look at that, it's unctuous, it's sticky.
It's rice pudding!
That's what you call a balanced meal!
Mm, papaya mixed...
Mm, that flavour combo goes together very well.
You know, Kingy, I don't think I'll ever eat papaya without lime
If you could put that in a chocolate bar you'd make a fortune.
'So, there you go, our version of Thai rice pudding.
'Comfort food - Thai style.'
'Now, you can see, can't you, how the cuisine's been shaped
'by what they have a lot of.
'True. Now let's head north to see what culinary treasures
'are hidden there.
'700 miles North to be precise
'where the climate is cooler
'and the landscape couldn't be more different.
'It's all mountains and jungles.'
'And it has a very different multicultural heritage, too.
'The North borders Laos and Myanmar, or Burma as it used to be known.
'Over the centuries people from as far afield as China
'have made this area their home.'
'I can't wait to see what the food's like up north, Kingy.'
Here we go, Kingy, the gates to the city of Chiang Mai!
-The ancient city and the gateway to it, fantastic.
We're in the Northern capital of Chiang Mai.
It was once the ancient capital of the Lanna kingdom.
'Before Thailand as we know it even existed, the North was part of
'the mighty Lanna kingdom which also extended into neighbouring
'Laos, Burma and China.'
'In the 15th century the Lanna kingdom was powerful
'and prosperous, dominating trade routes between southern China
'and the Burmese seaports. By the 20th century it no longer existed
'and Chiang Mai had become the Northern capital of Thailand.'
'But the Lannas left a legacy of food unique to the region.'
Chiang Mai is the fifth biggest city in the whole of Thailand
and it's said to have some of the best food in the whole of Asia.
So much so, that Thais will make the pilgrimage North to explore
the local markets and sample the Lanna delicacies
and there's one animal that takes pride of place
-on the northerners' plates and that's...
-BOTH: The pig!
'In the south there's not much pork due to the Muslim population
'but here in the North the Chinese influence means most people
'are Buddhist and pork is one of the most popular meats.'
-Oh, Kingy, look - markets, our natural habitat.
I'm dead excited!
'The locals do their food shopping here and also pop in at the
'end of the day for a post-work beer
'and a snack that's strangely familiar.'
It's a living, breathing, mountain of pork crackling.
It's like The Blob, isn't it? A 1950s sci-fi film.
'But there's more to this food than pork scratchings.
'We're meeting local food writer, Anne, to find out.'
What, to you, is Lanna food?
So, Lanna food...
-we don't use coconut in the food.
-Because up here we don't grow coconut.
So the taste is a little bit of bitterness but not so much.
-And, er, salty.
-But no sweet.
-Oh, now...! Anne, what's this?
-This is Kan Hun Lai.
This one is from Burma but it's a little bit sour
-because we put tamarind juice in there.
Kan hun lai, we use like pork...
-like sirloin. Like the side of the pork.
With some of the ribs mixed together. Many, many herbs
and many spices and then what's in here is...
-what you call...? You call it pickle, yeah?
-And then ginger in here
and then some of the crushed peanuts.
ALL GROAN IN DELIGHT
'It's thought that kan hun lai originated with the
'Sian tribe who arrived in Thailand from Burma in the late 19th century.'
Do you think that Lanna food is the best in Thailand?
Well, because I live here, I was born here, I would say yes!
-I have heard it said...
..that it could be some of the best in Asia.
Yes, thank you!
'We've been invited to meet a hill tribe.'
'Mate, is that one of the hill tribes that migrated into
'Northern Thailand over the last three
'centuries from countries like Burma, Tibet and China?'
'And their village is so remote the food hasn't changed for centuries.'
Oh, it's fabulous.
It's always lovely to get out of the city and the hustle and bustle
of the city and come to the peace of the country, because I kind of think
that the true heart of the country and all its cultural
emotion comes from the rural areas.
'There are six main hill tribes in Northern Thailand
-'scattered over 3,500 villages.'
-Look at that!
'We're meeting the Lisu tribe.
'They migrated from Tibet nearly 200 years ago.'
Most of them settled in Burma but about 28,000
came to Thailand, some settling here in this spectacular
Chai Thahn Dau mountain range.
'And since then their way of life has remained almost unchanged.'
HE SPEAKS LOCAL LANGUAGE
'The Lisu mainly survive off the land
'or earn money working for local farmers.
'About 30 families live here in houses made from bamboo.'
'We're meeting Sam and his family along with a family friend Del.'
-Nice to meet you.
-Hello, how are you?
All right, how are you?!
'Just like their ancestors,
'Sam and his family forage for food in the forest.
'Meat is scarce here, but as the North is so fertile, there is
'an abundance of veg plus leaves, shoots and plants for flavour.'
HE SPEAKS A LOCAL LANGUAGE
Ah, that can be made into chilli paste.
-It is the same family as aubergine.
-We call them pea aubergine.
-Yes, like little peas.
You can smash it and it can be stir-fried.
Tell you what, Si, this makes
a difference to going brambling with your mum!
So, does everybody live from the land here?
They live on cultivation, what they grow.
They grow ginger, peanut, corn and rice.
'And what they can't grow,
'they get from a weekly market an hour's journey away.'
'Rice is the staple diet for the hill tribes.
'The ground needs to be flooded for the rice to grow.
'But in the North, where the land is so steep, the water simply runs off.
'So they have to wait for the rainy season to plant it.'
'And then they head out with an unfeasibly large stick.'
I can see the purpose of a bamboo pole. It is pinging the soil out.
'The length of the pole makes it vibrate and flick the soil out.
-It's just flicking it out,
with the minimum of effort. So you're not having to dig it.
Because the gradient is pretty steep and his wife pops the rice seeds in.
-It must be such a hard life, farming on this gradient.
-Yes, it is hard.
But for them, they are used to it.
Is there any problem with young people wanting to leave the village?
Are they attracted to go to Chiang Mai and to Bangkok?
-The young generation, they go to study.
And then when they graduate, they may not come back.
So do you think there is a danger that the traditional ways
of the hill people could die out?
Yes, that is dangerous for the way of life and culture.
I mean, God forbid these lands became
-a tourist resort or a golf course.
'These jungles have helped shape northern Thai cuisine
'and in the days when it took people weeks to trek through
'the forest, they gathered roots
'and herbs to use as a substitute for their normal curry ingredients.'
'And thus, one of Thailand's most delicious curries was born.'
'Kaeng Pa, or jungle curry, as we know it at home.'
HOWLS LIKE TARZAN
There's a rumble in the jungle!
Yes, it is our Thai jungle curry, you know.
-If you are going to cook a jungle curry...
-Where do you come to?
The jungle! Look at that!
This is a great recipe and you know one crucial ingredient that
-you need while making a jungle curry? You need...
You might find it in the UK labelled up as rhizome root,
because that's what the Chinese call it. It's lovely.
It's like a mixture between lemon grass,
ginger and a bit of galangal thrown in.
It's mild, it's lovely and that is what gives jungle curry
its distinctive character.
That and loads of green chillies, green peppercorns - blows your head off! Right.
Now, the first thing we have to do is to make the curry paste.
What do you need for a curry paste?
You need a pestle and you need a mortar.
-I am here to be pestle and mortar and operator thereof.
First thing, chop six Thai shallots, or two British ones
and chuck them in the mortar.
Turn Geordie on.
-And watch him go.
-Oh, hold on.
-I have got a problem on here.
-This veranda's not feeling secure.
I'm going to have to get a chair.
-Is that your bunking chair?
-I've got a... Yeah. That's it, you see.
-Right. Now. This has just killed the cameraman.
-I know, but never mind.
-He is all right.
-We have three cloves of garlic.
You could of course do this in a food processor,
but it's fantastically more entertaining, isn't it?
'Pop the garlic into the mortar along with some galangal, which is
'similar to ginger, but slightly stronger.
'And then, grab some lemon grass.'
But the thing about jungle curry is,
it originally was made with wild boar.
Because obviously, up here in the hills, it was wild boar time.
It is more commonly done now with pork or chicken.
But actually, there is so much flavour in it,
you could get away with a vegetarian jungle curry.
'Add your chopped lemon grass to the mortar and some hot green chillies.'
Chop them roughly and pass to Geordie.
Stop! And green chillies.
'Then add in some kaffir lime leaves and some coriander roots.'
-I'm going for a swim.
-Well, it's me and me old mate Del boy.
We're going to get on with the curry.
Half a teaspoon of shrimp paste.
One teaspoon of cracked white peppercorns.
And that's it.
All we have to do now is wait until Del has reduced that to a paste.
And that'll be our curry paste. Thank you.
'While Del knuckles down to business,
'our Lisu hosts are preparing the other food for tonight's dinner.'
'This will be accompanied by the obligatory Thai chilli paste
'which the women are preparing.'
-Hi, how are you?
-Hi. How are you doing?
Oh, um, this is a very lovely special roasted chilli paste.
-It is basically Thai garlic...
And then salt.
SPEAKS A LOCAL LANGUAGE
And you were telling us that there is a lot more spices
and herbs in the north than the central belt of Thailand?
Yeah, I think it is because of availability.
Basically, we have so many areas that are still quite foresty,
so you have a lot of herbs from the forest.
-If you don't have it, you go to your neighbour's.
It's a seasoning, basically, isn't it?
-Yeah, just to add that "mmm" into your meal.
-That would give
"mmm" to anything, wouldn't it?
-You could season a beer mat with that and enjoy it!
-Here we go.
That's another recipe.
I have seen the future, it is Thai-shaped.
I'm loving it, dude, I'm loving it!
Now, how is Del getting on with our jungle curry paste?
-Del has got a lovely action.
-Shut your face!
-Look at that.
Oh, no, that is good. Del, thank you very much.
Thank you very much. That is very kind.
'Del has pounded our jungle curry paste to a pulp. Perfect.
-'So it is time to light the wok.'
-Now, here is a little tip.
Lift the pan off the ring before you light it.
'Now, fry off all that paste for a few minutes.'
These little pea aubergines are fantastic.
They are kind of like a bitter pea, not like an aubergine.
But they give the most amazing texture.
And again, with Thai food, it's the texture.
'You can get pea aubergines in jars at big supermarkets,
'but if you want them fresh, you need to head to the Asian shops.'
Now, take a lump of Chiang Mai's finest, a fillet of pork.
Cut it into medallions and then add to the pan.
-Just to seal the pork.
-And now for the heat.
Let's cut the chillies Thai style.
It's kind of shardy chunks like that, seeds and all.
Once the pork is sealed, add in the aubergines, chillies,
some chicken stock, some Thai fish sauce and let it all simmer.
Now it's time for the second wave.
Toss in some chopped kaffir lime leaves, diced squash,
some wonderful kachai, green peppercorns, palm sugar
and finally, some long beans and sweet basil.
That's it, Kingy. It's done. The perfume is fantastic.
The basil has really lifted it at the end.
But, by crikey, there is a lot going on in there.
Time to see if our jungle curry lives up to Lisu standards.
SPEAKS A LOCAL LANGUAGE
-She says she wants to taste now.
-Go on. After you.
Please, after you. Ladies first.
SPEAKS A LOCAL LANGUAGE
The pork is too big.
What do you think?
SPEAKS A LOCAL LANGUAGE
-Delicious. And spicy.
-'She likes it! Get in!'
-That's the best compliment you could give us.
-Yes, it is.
-I tell you what, Si, soon we will have a party.
-Got your dancing shoes?
And Sam has lent us
a couple of pairs of traditional baggy trousers to wear for dinner.
I cannot sit like that.
Wow, here is the food.
-This is superb.
-It is, isn't it? So what have we got?
-Well, there is ours.
-There is a vegetable they grow themselves.
This is the main meat, here. This is a minced pork with spices.
-This one, chilli.
-This is the one we picked.
-Little aubergines, yeah.
Little aubergines. Long beans. And...
-What a feast, thank you.
We came looking for authentic food.
-It is very, very honest food, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
Sam, has the food that you eat changed
much in the course of your life?
SPEAKS A LOCAL LANGUAGE
It's like the same as back in the generations.
-Like our grandfathers, great-grandfathers...
I think one of the stars of this meal is the rice.
To eat with somebody who has grown their own rice on a hillside,
in northern Thai, it's special.
It's really tasty.
'And once dinner is over, Sam is happy to show us
'how they celebrate a special occasion, which, for us, this is.'
'Sam is the village musician and makes all his own instruments.'
-What a wonderful end to a wonderful day, Si.
-How marvellous is this?
What lucky men!
'You know, Dave, I don't take I have ever met such a welcoming
'people as the Thais and their food is a reflection of that.
'For centuries, they have embraced the flavours
'and spices that outsiders have brought in.'
'What I have discovered, mate, is just how much more delicious
'Thai food we have yet to experience back home.
'Now, there is something to look forward to!'
-Oh, Sam, that was fantastic.
The Hairy Bikers travel to the beaches of the south and the mountains of the north to discover how Thailand's multicultural history and its place at the heart of the spice trade has created a rich and varied cuisine. They taste a traditional Thai breakfast, and they cook their own jungle curry for a remote hill tribe.