It is summer and Thailand is starting to get unbearably toasty. But the hot season in Thailand also means that many restaurants will start serving a delicious but
complicated summer dish call Khao Chae. What is it? What is it made of? Let’s see...Khao Chae can be translated to “rice soaked in water”, it originates from the court of King Rama II (1809-1824) and was adapted from a simple Mon recipe into a complex multidish. It is considered a true “Royal Thai Dish”.
There are three parts to Khao Chae : rice, jasmine-scented water (with floating flowers) and crushed ice. But the side dishes are the real star in this meal. Recipes vary but the essentials remain the same: most of the sides tend to be sweet, except for one: young green peppers stuffed with minced pork, drizzled in egg and fried. Another must-have Khao Chae component is deep-fried kapi (shrimp paste) balls, which are rolled in ground coconut, battered and then deep-fried to perfection. This side dish goes well with krachai or fresh Chinese ginger and is usually served along with
other fresh vegetables such as cucumber, spring onions and strips of raw mango.
A few other side dishes come along with this delicious cold rice in flower water, including boiled salted egg, powdered dried fish meat, deep-fried red onions and sun-dried chilis stuffed with pla naem.
As Khao Chae is an art, not only in preparation but also in the feasting, it should be eaten very delicately. First, add just a third of rice in your ball, the rest will be jasmine water. Also do not put the side dishes into your bowl of rice: have a little bite of your side dish, chew a bit, then follow with a spoonful of the icy rice. And don’t forget to nibble on the fresh vegetables between each side to give your tongue a break from each sugar-overloaded bites.
April is the month of Kao Chae. in Chiang Mai you can taste it at S&P Restaurants as well as at Suan Paak Restaurant, right next to Central Airport Plaza, Mahidol Road.