The Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure (2014) s01e02 Episode Script

Thailand - Bangkok And The Central Plains

1 We've packed our passports And bought our phrasebooks.
Because we're off on our biggest, craziest adventure yet.
Delicious.
Delicious.
Meow, meow, eeee! We're travelling further than we have ever done before.
To uncover the authentic roots of Britain's favourite takeaway foods.
I have always wanted to 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.
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.
We fulfil a lifelong ambition to explore Japan.
That is perfect.
Wow, look at that.
I just had a sushigasm 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 Asian adventure! We've arrived in Thailand for a two-week gastronomic journey that's guaranteed to set our taste buds on fire.
This week, we're exploring and investigating the central plains, home to rice paddies, ancient capitals, spectacular ruins and the street food capital of the world, Bangkok.
Central Thailand is the original home of the Thai food that we have come to know and love in the UK because most of the people who opened the first Thai restaurants in the UK came from this region.
They gave us red curry, green curry, pad Thai, and green papaya salad.
But I can't wait to find out what else is on the menu, Kingy.
Like millions of people each year, we're arriving at the gateway to it all, the capital city, Bangkok.
It's the most visited city on the planet.
No-one can say we don't know how to travel in style, Kingy, this is Thailand's main river, the Chao Phraya, and it's the quickest route into the city.
Oh, the breeze in your hair, the magnificence of the skyline.
Oh, man, we've arrived.
There it is, Kingy, the image you see in every guide book for Bangkok, the Temple of Dawn.
Here, Dave, I wasn't expecting stale bread for my first foodie experience in Thailand.
It's not for you, mate, it's for the wildlife! It's just like feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square but, like, bigger.
Shall we? Yeah! Whoa! Flaming Nora! That's insane! I've never seen fish like that before.
I wonder what would happen if you fell in? They'd suck you to death.
'I don't about you, mate, but I'm as hungry as those catfish.
'Time to get some wheels 'and find out more about Bangkok's exciting food scene.
' One Night In Bangkok by A-Teens Yes! We love a tuk-tuk! All through the city you can smell charcoal and pork and seafood.
And all the lovely herbs.
It's permeated the atmosphere.
We've got a tuk-tuk.
Oh, it's going to be lush.
Bangkok is the street food capital of the world.
There are an estimated half a million people hawking their food on the streets of Bangkok.
That's nearly 5% of the entire population of Bangkok.
Street food stalls were introduced to Bangkok in the late 19th-century by Chinese migrant workers who wanted cheap and quick places to eat.
Street food is a national obsession.
Many people say it is where true Thai cuisine can be found.
Me and Dave here are looking forward to seeing if we can find it.
Whether you work in a bank or building site, most locals buy street food at least once a day.
We are meeting Daniel, a Canadian who has lived here for ten years and presents a web TV show about Thai culture and food.
Daniel and his Thai friends know the best stalls to visit.
It is such a good way to eat.
Something you can't replicate.
You can't reproduce it.
I think Thai restaurants around the world have tried to recreate that street food experience that people who come to Bangkok fall in love with.
It is funny, you see some people at home in the guidebooks say, "You don't eat street food, you get sick.
" You live on it, you don't get sick! I will tell you a secret, I have lived in Thailand for 12 years, I eat street food every day.
I have been hospitalised once from a five-star hotel.
There you are! Never from street food.
Competition on the street is fierce, so many vendors specialise in just one dish which they become quite famous for.
Some street vendors have more infrastructure than others.
One day he'll have a chain! And with food this good and super cheap, no wonder many Bangkokians don't cook at all.
In fact, many modern apartments are being built without kitchens.
You have ordered one of these to go home, right? Yeah.
Have you? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I have.
That is the whole thing, isn't it? Everybody can take away.
Yeah, maybe I'm hungry about 10pm.
And just eat.
Just before you go to sleep! It is the third and fourth meal.
Thais have this insatiable appetite.
Maybe the fifth.
They can eat five or six meals a day.
OK, this gets a little cramped but let's try and make our way in.
Some stalls have a cult following and their owners are street food celebrities.
The way lady here, the cook, her name is Jay Fai, which means Auntie Fai in Thai.
She is a legend, she is an institution.
She has the freshest and the largest ingredients you will ever see.
She is a little lady there but she is like a musician! She's basically on fire round there with five woks! Let's go, let's meet her.
And take a look.
Hello, Jay Fai! Do you know, I have noticed there is no gas here.
This is on charcoal braziers with a fan blowing through.
You should get a better taste.
This is natural cooking.
It's like a barbecue.
And by the look of our first dish, Auntie Fai's reputation is well-deserved.
Look at the size of that omelette.
This is the crab omelette.
Crab omelette is Jay Fai's signature dish.
Unlike the French omelettes we eat at home, Thai omelettes are deep-fried so they are fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside.
I think I am about to have one of those food epiphanies, that happens very rarely.
Is it that good? It is amazing.
It's so good it makes me giggle.
We eat like kings, we eat like kings here.
You do eat like kings.
It's unreal! I wish I could verbalise it better but it is just unreal.
With street food you can run the gamut from going for 20 baht for a freshly squeezed fruit juice to what is basically a Michelin star quality meal all on the street.
What I love about it, it is accessible.
It's jeans, T-shirt and beer.
But where food is concerned there is no compromising and for a lot of people it is a way of life.
Come on! No sleep till bedtime - the night is young.
Every morning, Bangkokians wake up to the worst traffic congestion in the world.
There are five million cars here on roads built for just two million.
Not to mention the 10,000 tuk-tuks.
Tuk-tuk drivers spend two months of the year sitting stationary in traffic.
Let's give them a break and cook for them.
I'll do spice chicken in pandan leaves.
I'll do Thai fishcakes.
One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster! Actually, it is spice chicken and pandan leaves if we are being pedantic.
And with that I am going to do some home-made Thai fishcakes because I am so fed up with some of the commercially produced in fishcakes at home, you may as well serve your guests deep-fried beer mats.
Home-made ones are brilliant.
To begin with, what we are doing here It is not the size of your pestle and mortar that counts, it is what you do with it.
But if one is blessed with a big one, you know, life is just that much sweeter.
Sorry, man.
I don't want you to get mortar envy.
Where did you get that? From the Big Boy's Pestle And Mortar Shop.
In Thai cooking, the pestle and mortar is way more important than the knife.
To get the full flavour out of the ingredients you have to crush them.
What we are going to do is prepare the marinade for the chicken.
It's very simple.
Put four cloves of garlic into your mortar.
And slice up a chunk of galangal.
It's part of the ginger family and has a peppery taste.
Along with some coriander root, the root actually has more flavour than the leaves.
Hold on, we're on the move, dude, we're on the move! Did you put the brakes on? Put the chocks in! I tell you what, look, watch this.
Right? Limes in Asia are used for everything.
A chock.
Genius, Myers.
Genius.
Result? Safety.
Right, to finish the delicious marinade for the chicken we need some of those essential Thai flavours.
The most important is fish sauce.
There are four key flavours in Thai cuisine - salty, sweet, sour and hot.
Fish sauce is the salty.
Palm sugar gives the marinade sweetness, but brown sugar is a good substitute.
A pinch of white pepper.
And some lime juice, just to give the marinade a sour kick.
That is what I call a Thai massage, you know.
Stick in the fridge, half an hour, job's a good 'un.
Obviously you can't make Thai fishcakes without fish.
Sea bass is great if you are feeling posh but you can do it with a bit of old pollack or coley With that much spice going on you really can use cheap, sustainable fish.
Here I've got some halibut.
Really lovely, fresh, beautiful halibut.
Really want to take the skin off.
Manageable pieces.
To flavour the diced fish, take one stick of lemon grass, top it and tail it, you just want the nice succulent bit in the middle, along with one kafir lime leaf, a big piece of galangal and one coriander root and its leaves.
I am going to pound that together to make a paste in my jumbo sized, super duper, picture of envy pestle and mortar.
Pop the fish in the mortar and add some Thai red curry paste, some palm sugar .
.
and an egg so that the fishcakes stick together.
And these are snake beans.
Which basically, they are like a long green bean.
They are brilliant for this but at you can use, and I do, use French beans.
This gives them a bit of colour, a bit of bulk, they are lovely.
And finally the inevitable Thai fish sauce.
Kumbaya, my Lord Kumbaya You kind of pound this until it becomes like jelly.
And when it becomes jelly, at home you put it in the fridge for an hour to make it easier to handle.
These are pandan leaves.
You can get them at home, so don't go, "Can I get them at home?" You can.
They're at the Asian supermarkets across the country.
They impart a lovely flavour - slightly herbaceous, slightly sweet.
It doesn't release any flavour until it is cooked.
When it is boiled in rice pudding, or indeed deep-fried, it's worth it.
So, what you do is you blanch them for about 30 seconds.
Then wrap your chicken in the pandan leaf and push through a cocktail stick to hold it all together.
Now we are going to fry these babies in a minute.
I'm ready, Kingy.
Look at that - the texture is so smooth.
Right, now you need wet hands for this or otherwise it is like trying to put a jellyfish in a vest.
It is kind of awkward.
Wet your hands.
Take a portion of your fish and make them into little patties.
And that is your first fishcake.
Put then on some flour and just repeat.
Good tip, they freeze fantastically well.
Put then on a sheet of silicon baking parchment and freeze them and when you have your dinner party, you can do 50 or 60 of them at a time.
And you can't have a fishcake without a dip.
Mine is honey and cucumber.
It's more of a salsa and a sauce.
Two tablespoons of rice vinegar, some runny honey, some lime juice and a drop of water.
And one tablespoon of the inevitable, the irreplaceable, the ever present Thai fish sauce.
I now add in some chopped carrot, cucumber and a load of chilli and some shaven shallots.
Try saying that quickly! Leave that to stand for half an hour to an hour for the flavours to develop.
One of my favourite things, this.
Now that's a bit of kick, Kingy.
It's a great cart, this, isn't it? It is, it is.
We've got a built-in wok thermulator and I have a gas bottle here.
I'm shallow frying, he's deep frying.
I've some got a bit of groundnut oil in here, heat it up, shallow fry till golden.
And basically, for the spiced chicken pandan, you will see the edges start to go a little golden brown and that's what you want.
Look at that! These Thai fishcakes are about as perfect as you get.
Watch out, Dave, I think the tuk-tuk boys can smell the cooking! I like spicy! You don't have to worry about that, I tell you! Eh? That sauce, you could run your tuk-tuk on it.
See you soon, boys! Dude, your dipping sauce has a lot to live up to now, I tell you.
Right, better serve these Thai goodies up to our tuk-tuk mates.
Right, boys! It's been a long wait, I know.
Here we go.
Help yourself.
Very good! Very good! Mmmm! Champion! Champion! Ha-ha! Genius! How long have you been tuk-tuk drivers? How many years? Ten years, I've been working here.
Seven years.
Do you enjoy it? Yes.
Good fun? More? BOTH: Yes! Help yourself, man! Have a chilli.
I think it is going down very well, you know.
Guys, thank you.
Nice to meet you.
Thank you very much! Thank you so much.
The Thai people's love of good food seems part of their very being.
And it starts at school, you know! What did you have for school dinners? I was on packed lunch.
What did you have? Me, boiled potatoes, boiled beef, and then tapioca pudding or semolina, if was lucky, with a dollop of jam.
We've popped into the Setthabut Uppatham School, about 30 minutes from central Bangkok.
That's, of course, providing you're not stuck in traffic! It's a private school, but in Bangkok there are nearly five times as many private schools as there are state schools.
They're more accessible and affordable than they are in Britain.
800 children come here and their principal used to teach at a school in Manchester.
We design our menus weekly.
My sister usually sits down with the chef, the chef lives at the school.
I love the way you are using the term chef and not dinner lady.
I am thinking about designing menus.
What's all that about? We try to educate the children, we try to vary their menus as much as we can.
Children in Thailand have to go to school for at least 12 years.
Here we go.
It's break time.
It's mobbed.
Isn't it? This is fantastic.
Chicken! Chicken drumsticks! It all starts here.
I forgot to show you! Look at these! These are made inside the bakery, little dumplings.
Good grief, break time pork dumplings.
What's lovely is, though, the kids know the food, they want the right sauce on the dumplings! My school dinners involved three big aluminium trays, meat, mashed potatoes, veg and it would be plop, plop, ice cream scoop of mash.
Where's the love in that? What are you doing? You're here to cook, not to eat! All the cooking here is done on site, from scratch.
This is lunch! Wow, look at this! That is Chef, that's the big chef, the cook.
Hello, Chef! The school chef used to be Gong's Nanny when he was a little boy.
This is my nanny.
Hello.
Hello.
Hello, I'm Dave.
Meet Dave.
Have you known each other for a long time? "Before I was born," she said.
So more than 30 years.
More than 30 years! I'm 32 this year, so Does she have a watchful eye? What's it like cooking for all of these children and being the head chef for all of these wonderful children in the school? So she's really happy.
Every day when she comes to the kitchen, it's like her home.
I can honestly say that I've never seen school food like this anywhere in the world.
That's right.
How often does the food change? In a month, it's never the same.
So we also try to vary with different ways of cooking.
Yeah.
We use the oven, we stir-fry, soup base.
So it's all varied.
So, that being the case, what's on the menu today? Today we have thin rice noodles Yeah.
.
.
with pork broth.
Yeah.
And minced pork.
And some pork balls as well.
Wow.
Beautiful.
Yeah.
I'm going to wash my hands.
Me too.
The school has 17 full-time kitchen staff plus, for one lunchtime only, a couple of hairy bikers.
Here we are, dinner ladies Thai style.
Yeah.
Left, right, left, right, left, right.
Here they come! They're out! They're out! They're out! Hello.
Sa-wut dee kah.
Sa-wut dee kah.
Yes? You've got to be quick, Kingy.
Aw! That smells fantastic.
Pork balls, pork and, under there, we know we've got bean sprouts, pickled turnip.
This is kind of proper gastronomic fare, Kingy.
Yeah.
You're welcome.
Aren't these the politest, nicest children you've ever seen in your life? Kingy, we've done it.
Shall we go and join the kids? I think we should.
Oh Now, you're very lucky.
Do you enjoy your school food? Yeah.
Yeah.
Yeah.
It's fantastic to have such a sophisticated palate and be so young.
Can you remember when you first started to use the four condiments, the four flavours of Thai food? Oh, seven years old.
Seven years old? I was seven years old too.
Ah! Mm.
Six years old.
Six years old.
Right.
Right.
If you're eating out with your parents, if you go to a street vendor and you're having noodles, it's very common for the children to also start putting the condiments in because they see their parents doing it.
Right.
Said the children will do the same thing and it starts from there.
If you like it sour, or salty, or sweet, or spicy.
If it's too spicy, don't put the chilli in.
If I was in a Thai restaurant in London and I was served this food, I would be very happy with it and I'd pay for it.
It is really impressive and I genuinely have loved the whole food ethos in this school.
It's really refreshing, you should be really proud, Gong.
Well, that was an education, Kingy.
I wish I'd gone to school in Bangkok instead of Barrow.
Now one of the most popular Thai dishes on our menus back home is green curry.
So we simply couldn't come to Bangkok without trying to find out the secrets of its success.
And we've managed to wangle our way into the famous kitchens of Auntie Daeng's restaurant.
An English Sunday newspaper voted the food here one of the best 50 meals in the world! It's like the search for the Holy Nile for Thai curry lovers.
It's true.
We've got to hurry up.
Right.
Auntie Daeng has given us an hour and apparently she's quite fierce, quite formidable.
Really? Mm.
Follow me, I'm right behind you.
"The Apprentice Theme" arranged from "Romeo & Juliet" by Prokofiev Auntie Daeng is a self-taught cook and we've been warned she runs her kitchen with an iron fist.
I don't know what I was expecting but this is a relatively kind of It's a humble establishment.
It is, isn't it? Yeah.
Interesting.
But be it humble or not, the reputation of the food is GLOBAL.
Stand by your beds, mate, here she comes.
Hello.
Hello.
Hello.
Sa-wut dee kah.
Hello, I'm Si.
Nice to meet you.
I'm Dave.
Pleased to meet you.
Thank you so much.
Pang.
Pang.
Hello, Pang.
Nice to meet you.
Pang is the son of friends of Auntie Daeng's, who fortunately speaks good English.
These are some amazing photographs.
Is this Auntie Daeng with the Thai royal family? That's the King's sister.
The King's sister? Yes.
Wow.
Amazing.
Auntie Daeng's cooking career took off when she was chosen to prepare a meal for a royal visit at the government department where she worked.
The Princess Mother was so impressed, she asked Auntie Daeng to become a private chef for her and the King's sister.
Can we get into the kitchen? Oh, yeah.
Yes.
Let's go.
We'll follow you.
As the lunchtime rush is on in the kitchen, we're out the back at our own private work station.
Ee! Fantastic.
We've got our own little prep kitchen, Kingy.
So, over to Auntie Daeng.
Instruct me.
She wants you to cut.
But how? How? How does she want the lime cut? This is the thing.
You slice down very thin otherwise it's going to get very bitter.
Just the zest and not the pith.
Lemon grass.
Do it more carefully.
No, no, no.
That's you told.
Your turn next, Mr King.
She wants you to cut something.
OK, what would you like me to cut? I'd better chop the galangal.
Along with some coriander root.
She's a one, isn't she? And I smash it all together in the mortar.
That's OK.
Good.
Good.
Thank you, Auntie Daeng.
How long have you been cooking, Auntie Daeng? About 40 years.
Right.
Wow! So she started when she was three years old.
You old charmer, you.
But I don't think we've won her over yet, Dave.
Auntie Daeng wants you guys to get all the ingredients up on the table, the whole basket.
The whole basket? Come on, Si, keep up.
No slacking in Auntie Daeng's kitchen.
The green chillies go in next, but Auntie Daeng is adding a basket of them.
It's going to blow our socks off.
A lot of chillies in there.
Isn't there just? This is going to taste amazing.
It is.
It's going to be absolutely great.
Salt.
Salt.
Salt.
And a few cloves of garlic along with some shrimp paste.
It's funny shrimp paste.
It's so strong and pungent but a little in the paste, a little in the food, it's just so savoury and fabulous.
To finish the paste, Auntie adds some coconut milk.
That's the coconut milk.
Oh, wow, it smells AMAZING! That's going to be quite a spice hit, isn't it? It's funny.
Everyone who passes here is just a spluttering heap.
And this is the Thai people, it's not tourists.
That's it.
Fantastic.
Wow.
Beautiful.
Absolutely superb.
Of all the myths surrounding a green curry paste, shop-bought, home-made, that's green curry paste Bangkok style.
Once Auntie is happy with the flavour, she dilutes the paste in more coconut milk.
So there's one, two tablespoons.
Then adds the chicken.
Mix it.
Nice.
Some Thai aubergines.
And some Thai basil.
And basil.
A load of basil.
That cooks away for about 20 minutes.
Guys, I've got to tell you at home, Dave and I get constantly frustrated that we haven't invented smell-o-vision yet.
It's epic.
It is epic.
It's completely epic.
I think it's epic down the entire street.
It is.
She wants you guys to taste it.
Well that's a food epiphany.
It is absolutely heavenly.
It's not too hot.
It's not too spicy.
It's not too salty, it's not too sweet.
It's perfect.
It's perfect.
It's very, very good.
It's very, very delicious.
Thank you.
Thank you.
She said, "Thank you.
" Lunchtime at Auntie Daeng's is rammed but, luckily, local food critic Tom has saved us a table.
You choose to come here for your lunch.
Yes, it's a good place.
It's like eating at home without being at home.
It's good home cooking.
Are there any recommendations that perhaps we couldn't get in the UK? OK.
Maybe something like the yellow curry of prawn and water lily roots.
Wow.
Wow.
Yes.
Tom's ordering us a Thai lunchtime feast.
And whilst we wait for it to arrive, I want to have a nosy at what everyone else is eating.
Hello.
Hello.
Excuse me.
What is so special about this restaurant? Everybody's had the yellow curry here.
Do you come here a lot from work? Do you all call come for your lunchtime from work here? Yes.
I'm not far.
Bank of Thailand.
Bank of Thailand.
Oh, right.
And is this one of your favourite places to eat? Yeah.
Yes.
Oi, Myers, will you stop gassing, the food's arrived? Oh Shall we? Yes.
Yes.
Enjoy.
I'll go straight in with the beans, me.
I like it.
It's nice.
Good texture I like it.
Ooh, I know now why they yellow curry is such a hit.
What's lovely is it's so light and delicate, isn't it? Mm.
Do people normally in Thailand stop for lunch, or do people go to street carts? We've got so much in Britain now of eating sandwiches at our desks but I think that's wrong, you know? What's the culture here? Usually people like to go out to lunch because they don't want to be stuck in the office the whole day.
With food this good, cooked by royal chef, you might expect a hefty bill.
Hello.
Thank you very much.
That lot, gentlemen, was about 30 quid.
You're joking?! Fantastic.
It's not much, is it? No, a tenner a head.
And the price isn't the only surprising thing about the bill, according to this it's the year If that's the future, that's good food.
Too right it is! Oh, it's right, you see, cos in 1888, King Rama V changed the calendar.
And that would be the difference between the Buddhist calendar and our Gregorian Christian calendar.
Yes, and the Buddhist calendar being precisely 543 years ahead of ours.
And I must say, I think in some respects, their Thai food at the moment is ahead of us too.
So do I.
Auntie Daeng.
You know, dude, I'm still feeling a bit battered and bruised after going ten rounds with Auntie Daeng.
I need a bit of TLC.
Well, if you're talking of a Thai massage, I'm in.
Thai massage dates back 2,500 years and was created by the personal physician to the Buddha.
Thais view a good massage almost as a birthright.
I'd like Thai traditional, please.
Time for the obligatory costume change.
Very fetching, dude.
Very fetching.
I'm having the herbal compressed massage, you know.
And I'm having a traditional.
Ooh! Ah Can this country get any better? Thai massage is a prescribed medical treatment in Thailand.
Amongst many things, it's believed to be great for aiding digestion.
And works on a sort of rhythmical crunching and stretching of the body.
You look like you've got frogs' legs! Ning, n-ning, n-ning, ning Kingy, you're destroying my karma.
I can't help it.
Just quiet.
Sorry, dude, I'm trying.
Are you OK there? Fabulous.
You're very strong.
I'm sorry.
No, you're lovely.
Oh, that's me all de-knotted, Kingy.
Now, you know the Thais love their chillies? Well, here's a fact for you.
It was actually the Portuguese who brought this hot little ingredient here in the 16th century.
So what better place to cook up a fiery tribute than here, in the gardens of the Portuguese Embassy? This is our homage to Portugal's involvement with Thailand and the love of the chilli.
Chillies bring life to everything.
They bring sunshine to the darkest meal.
What would Thai people do without a chilli? Because it's used for very different purposes, Dave, isn't it? It's used for heat in culinary ways but it's also used to stimulate and sensitise the palate for that other important thing in Thai cookery texture.
So we're cooking up a spicy beef stir-fry.
It's one of those straightforward, simple recipes that's blooming lovely.
It's hot as Hades.
It's just that thing for a cold winter's night in Barnsley.
By God, it'll blow your clogs of.
So, this is a beautiful piece of rib-eye.
I'm going to trim it and then we're going to roughly, roughly chop it to a course kind of mince.
It's a bit like steak tartare.
Right, I'm going to start on the dipping sauce.
Grab some chillies.
If you don't want a big chilli hit, leave the seeds out.
But we're in Thailand.
We're going full throttle.
Boom! Chuck your chillies into your all-important mortar and add in some coriander roots.
And I want four cloves of garlic.
Now we just pound this.
It's not a screwing action, it's a thumping action.
And that's quite important, isn't it? The thumping action releases the oils in the said ingredients that Dave's got in his pestle and mortar, which is what we want.
Next, the inevitable Thai fish sauce, some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and oyster sauce.
We finish that off with the juice of half a lime.
A top tip is if you want more juice from your lime, roll it like so.
And it kind of internally squishes it.
Then cut it laterally, across its kind of belly.
And we'll have loads and loads of juice.
And that's our hot chilli dipping sauce done.
And while Dave's doing that, I'm chopping some shallots and a red pepper ready for the beef.
Let's light the wok.
Right.
Boom! Got it.
Whoa! Yeah! Kingy, that's very close to your head.
So are your chillies.
Whoo! And what we do .
.
in a hot wok .
.
we just add In Thai cooking actually, your wok isn't as hot as Chinese cooking.
No.
Normally.
It's a different process! Right, that's cooling down lovely, that.
So what we do In there.
We just saute off our shallots.
You don't want to burn them too much for this.
It's not hot.
And to that, add in some crushed chilli and garlic.
Now what's important is that you don't burn the garlic or it'll go bitter.
So, after about a minute, put the beef in.
Beautiful.
And while Kingy's frying off the beef, I'm mixing some soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and some palm sugar to the wok.
And lastly, some chopped red pepper.
Now, as we've said, Thai food is all about how you balance those key elements.
This beef dish needs to be nice and spicy, so we've got to go a bit heavy on the sweet too, to counteract the heat.
Like a lot of things in Thailand, I'm going to top it with a fried egg, which isn't only delicious, but traditional.
Beautiful.
Then, to finish the beef with a flourish, add a load of Thai basil leaves, which you can easily get at home, and plate it up.
And there we have it.
Our Thai beef stir-fry.
With a banging hot sauce and sticky rice.
You know, I've adored my time in Bangkok but I'm ready to hit the road, aren't you, mate? Too right.
Let's head north.
There's one Thai dish we simply have to see at source.
What's that, mate? Rice, of course.
And here in the Central Plains is where they grow the bulk of it.
It's known as the Rice Bowl of Asia.
That means good morning in Thai.
It actually means, have you had your rice yet? Rice is so important to Thai people that it's your first greeting of the day.
You know, Kingy, I'm really looking forward to finding out more about rice.
It's one of those things that we eat all the time but it's a mystery of the universe.
Where does it come from? How does it grow? All of that, you know? Yeah, you see, the thing is, one can't enter a paddy field without buying yourself some paddy-field chic.
You've got to get yourself blinged up for t'field.
And here is the very place to do it.
Look at them wellies, dude.
Brilliant orange.
I want some of them.
Oh, they match his eyes.
Working in the paddy fields has its hazards.
The sun is baking hot and the mosquitoes carry dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis.
Boo! Aaagh! I don't know what that is but I know I don't fancy getting it, Kingy.
Too right.
So we need the right kit to protect us.
Sorted! Thailand is one of the biggest exporters of rice in the world.
Over nine million hectares of land is used to grow the grain.
That's an area 4½ times the size of Wales.
Hey, would you look at, Kingy? Somebody's let that turf go to seed.
You won't be playing cricket on that in a hurry.
It's not turf, man, it's rice.
This organic farm produces jasmine rice.
Oh, wow, look at that! That's what you call organised gardening.
Isn't it? I love it.
Square fields.
Square boxes.
Hello.
We're meeting Gong, who's one of the locals, and the paddy field workers who are going to initiate us in the art of rice growing.
Hello, nice to meet you.
So, Gong, how many times a year does rice crop? Two.
Two.
Two times a year.
Two times a year.
At the moment, are you planting rice or harvesting rice? Planting now.
Planting now.
And what's the hardest work - planting or harvesting? For them it's all the same.
It's all the same! They get used to it.
It's funny, I thought they may say that.
It's funny that.
I think we need to go to work, Mr King.
I've never planted rice in my life.
No, we're rice planting virgins.
We are.
Which is a worry.
Planting rice is done mechanically as well as by hand but today the machine is up the spout.
So it's all hands on deck.
Come on, you, let's go to the field.
'Watch your step, Kingy!' Dude! I don't think we're going to get back over the bridge.
I think it's time to go back on the diet! I never knew that planting rice could be such fun.
I suppose we'd better get cracking.
So, here's how rice grows.
It starts as a seed which gets sewn into trays and then the trays get put into nursery beds in the paddy fields to germinate.
20 days later, the shoots have grown big enough to be separated out and planted in the main beds of the paddy field to grow intoguess what? Rice.
Do you want me to show you how to do it? You take it out and then use your thumb to put it in.
And then use your index finger to put it back.
Nice.
You have to make sure the rice straight up like that.
Don't worry about that, I'm just concentrating on me standing up straight like that at the minutes.
Hold on, son.
Hey, dude, I've got it, me.
We are flying, me and What's your name? Pedang.
Pedang, Pedang, Pedang.
Me and Pedang, we're off.
That's it, I'm there.
Pedang, I'm there, I'm there! So, how long have you been doing it? 30 years.
30 years? She's 51 years old today.
She is not.
Today? Happy birthday to you Happy birthday dear Pedang Happy birthday to you.
We've done about kind of six square metres since we've been here.
I mean, how much a day would you be expected to do? In a day, they've probably got about 1,600 square metres.
Wow! 'That's about the size of six tennis courts.
' I tell you, Kingy, this is hard work, isn't it? It is, it's ridiculous.
It's hot.
And all that hard work pays off.
These paddy fields produce about 50 tonnes of rice a year.
Do you know what, Kingy? We've done our share of backbreaking work but I think this has got to be the most backbreaking of the lot.
It certainly has.
I'll never take me jasmine rice for granted.
Just three months after the rice is planted, Pedang and her mates will harvest it and dry it.
And then it is threshed by machine to get the rice grains out.
What we've got here at the moment is just brown rice.
We could cook that and it would be the chewy brown rice that is very healthy.
Yeah, it is.
And if you take the outside bran off, you will find the white jasmine rice underneath.
When the sun gets too high and too hot, everyone downs tools and chips in to make lunch.
So, Gong, what would be the typical meal of the day? They finish work, they all want to eat together for lunch.
Is this what they would cook? This is normal for her.
Vegetable or bamboo shoot cooked with any kind of meat that's available.
And today the meat is chicken and a fish they caught in the paddy field.
Wow! Beautiful! What a beautiful fish.
They put fish in the water here to eat the weeds and the bugs and the fish droppings help fertilise the water.
Do you know what I'm having trouble identifying is? Who was who in the field because everybody had their woolly balaclavas on.
I might be wrong but I think this is the birthday girl.
That's her.
What a team in the paddy field me and you were, mate.
Brilliant.
A little paddy field treat.
Lush, isn't it? That's a top tip.
You see, if you slash the fish, and slash the thickest part of the skin, it cooks evenly.
Also if you are doing fillets, it won't curl up.
This isn't bad for a working lunch, is it, Si? It certainly beats having a sandwich and a packet of crisps.
This is the Thai style of eating rice.
It's lovely.
On the floor.
That's better.
Rice.
What have we got here? We have the deep-fried paddy field fish, we've got bamboo shoots with a clear chicken broth, we've got cooked aubergines, fresh aubergine and that lovely chilli dip.
Chilli dip we call nam pla.
Nam pla.
Yes.
Ladies, are these recipes and dishes what the workers in the rice fields would have eaten for years? Yes.
It's very good.
Did the ladies learn to cook from their mothers? From their family because Yeah, because they need to help in the kitchen when they are young.
It's very different to Bangkok these days, isn't it? It's another side of Thailand.
Yeah.
I love it.
And for your birthday, are you enjoying your food? Happy birthday, happy birthday.
And thank you for cooking us supper on your birthday.
Yes, thank you.
I know I've said it before but I'm never going to take my rice for granted again.
We're following the Chao Phraya River north out of Bangkok to our final destination.
The ancient capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya.
Here, fancy a pit stop? But why not? You can't beat a good roadside pull in, can you? Whoo! We always say you can judge a country on its roadside dining and this place is set to serve the biggest prawns you've ever clapped eyes on.
In here? Oh, wow! Just look at those prawns.
They are beautiful.
These are macrobrachium rosenbergii or giant river prawns.
They are freshwater prawns and used to thrive in rivers here in Thailand but today they're mostly farmed.
Look at the meat on those and the tentacles are up to a metre long.
Right, I think we're going to go and learn how to cook them now.
Get in.
Beautiful.
What's not to love? Legs off, trim them up.
Scissors.
Leg cut.
Short back and sides, please.
Lift up and then Good? Good.
Really good.
Thanks, chef.
That yellow stuff is raw which is prawn eggs.
It can be eaten raw or cooked and it's a real delicacy.
Now they're what you call a butterfly prawn, Kingy.
Look at that.
Apply heat and consume.
Excellent.
Just on the fire.
Yeah.
And then They're what you call prawn stars.
Thank you.
They smell fantastic.
Oh, Dave, look at that.
Now they've cooked it with a roux on so it's kind of like a bisque.
It is.
It's a self-made bisque, isn't it? That's a treat, isn't it? A bisque is basically a soup that uses all the extra bits of crustacean for lots of seafood flavour.
Ah.
Ay, man.
Thank you.
How did that work? You toad.
'Ah, here, you, Myers, you won't get one up on me, mate.
'That'll do nicely, thanks very much.
' Trust you to go too far.
You can't go too far with a prawn.
You having a laugh, aren't you? I can't wait.
I'm going to try the bisque.
I'm going straight for the jugular.
Oh, look at that.
Oh, hey, man, they are epic.
This is a major food sensation, Kingy.
This certainly is, mate.
Oh, Dave.
Aw, Kingy.
I tell you what, they've got quite a firm texture, haven't they? The texture is reminiscent of kind of a lobster texture but prawn flavour.
Well, this is what you get when you pull in at a roadside cafe in Thailand.
It's not a bad service station, is it, really? 'Well, mate, it certainly beats the dried out ploughman's you'd be 'eating if you stopped at the services back home, I tell you.
' Back on our bikes, full up on prawns and heading for the ancient capital of Thailand.
This is the life, Kingy.
Founded in 1350, in its heyday, Ayutthaya was one of the most spectacular cities in the world.
Some of these ruins were once elaborate Thai temples known as wats.
Isn't that beautiful? It is.
It's like the Asian Leaning Tower of Pisa, isn't it? It's marvellous.
That's culture.
That's Thailand to me, mate.
Come on, shall we go and have a dander? I think we should.
Yeah, but what's left is really wats.
What? No, wats.
Wats are temples.
That's a temple, innit? It's a wat.
Well, it's a temple.
No, it's a wat.
Beautiful, though.
I just wonder what they were.
They were wats.
Ayutthaya was on the ancient trading routes between India and China, and traders from all over the world brought new flavours and spices here.
The chefs in the royal palaces here took full advantage of these exciting ingredients.
They were in fierce competition with one another to create the most exquisite dishes to please their king, who has godlike status in Thailand.
So this is where it all began, that exciting alchemy of Thai cuisine that you see everywhere today, from street food to schools, it started here.
Do you know, Si, you can feel the serenity, the beauty, the age of this place, can't you? You can, yeah.
It's funny, this.
I recognise it.
I think I've cleared this level on Tomb Raider.
I mean, it's massive.
It's a city.
And it was a city, one of the most important places on the planet, for not just religion but for trade, for spirituality, for food.
Ooh! For food.
I have an idea.
Do you? I fancy a salad.
As a celebration of the role Ayutthaya played in creating the Thai food we know and love back home, we're going to create our own special dish.
This salad is a melange.
It's crispy noodles, surmounted with prawns and crab and all manner of good things and herbs, which will become clear when we start cooking it.
Now, these are vermicelli noodles.
You deep fry these until they're golden and crispy.
And vermicelli noodles are made from rice.
So if you've got a wheat allergy, you're a blotcher or wheezer, you're all right with vermicelli noodles.
What's most important when doing this sort of thing, you have to make sure that your fat's hot enough.
And it's not.
'Kicking off, I'm making the salad dressing 'with the inevitable Thai fish sauce' Five.
'.
.
some lime juice 'and a bit of palm sugar.
'Then thinly slice five Thai shallots.
'If you haven't got Thai shallots, just use one banana shallot.
'Then grate up some galangal, ginger and garlic.
' Now then, when the oil is hot enough, what you do .
.
take a good handful of noodle, pop them in like that.
Whoa! That's what you're after.
Let them cook for about 30 seconds, turn them over, cook them on the other side, take them out, so you're looking at about a minute.
And again.
Whoa! Joking apart, do take care if you're doing this at home.
Have a fire blanket there because you'll burn yourself if you're not careful, and we don't want that.
Go on, give us one more go.
I like this, it's great.
It's kind of a cross between deep frying and pyromania.
Watch.
Are you ready? Aw! Hey, man, how cool is that? Do you know, Kingy, this is like getting the lawn at Hampton Court and doing a fry-up! I know! We don't want to get chucked out.
Now take the thinly sliced shallots and shallow fry them until they're crispy.
This will give a lovely crunch to the salad.
Meanwhile, make strips out of the three kaffir lime leaves, and then chop up some spring onion.
The salad, the shallots go in.
And then King prawns, some with the shell off, some with the shell on, and just stir fry them nice and quick.
Beauty.
They are fantastic prawns, aren't they? Aren't they? To the prawns, add the galangal, the ginger and the garlic.
And just saute, but take care not to burn the garlic.
Literally, that should take about a minute.
No longer.
But if you're going to have a salad, this really is an epic salad.
It's absolutely bursting with textures, flavours.
You've got your carbohydrate, your protein, your spice.
Now those go in the bowl.
Put those on top of the crispy shallots.
Now we start building.
Pop in the spring onions, a handful of beansprouts, and as much crab as you like, then rip up a generous amount of mint and some coriander.
As you can see, all that palm sugar has dissolved with the fish sauce and the lime juice.
Now the best way for this is With your hands.
Yeah, cos you don't want to break the herbs up or smash the meat up.
Mm-mm-mm! Ready for the build? So, nice and gentle.
Then take your deep-fried vermicelli and layer the salad on top.
Along with some chopped red chillies and chunks of lime.
Now, that, that's a salad, isn't it? That's our homage to this beautiful place and the beautiful country that is Thailand.
You know, Kingy, it's a busy little dish.
It is that! But I still think there's something missing.
I mean, we are in the presence of royalty, and tradition dictates that we carve some vegetables now to decorate it even more.
I'm excited about this.
I am too.
I've got a special knife.
Have you? Yeah.
These are special Thai vegetable carving knives.
I've got two.
One spare.
'We see lots of carved fruit 'and vegetables back in the Thai restaurants at home, 'but it's actually a 700-year-old tradition that started here 'in the royal palaces of Ayutthaya.
'It was a secret art form that was passed down from mother to daughter, 'but now they even teach it in Thai schools.
' See the rhythm, the intricacies of the flowers.
Have a look at that.
It's beginning to form.
Are you not going to start, then? I thought you were going to have a go at this.
Look at that, eh? It's coming up a treat.
It's all about rhythm and control, Kingy.
Rhythm and control.
See, I'm on the outer leaves now.
I want symmetry there.
Whereas the inside of the flower can be quite random, when one's going to the outside, I want it to swirl.
I want rhythm 'Little does Dave know I'm off to get some fruit 'that someone else spent most of the night carving.
'Look on and weep, Myers.
Look on and weep.
' You know, Kingy, I'm rather proud of this.
I think it has the quality of a Faberge egg.
If Carl Faberge could do melons, he'd be me.
You didn't do that.
I did.
What a place to have supper.
Really good, isn't it? You know, the truth of it is, these blends of flavours all began in this ancient city.
'You know, Kingy, people said it's impossible to eat badly in Thailand, 'and they were right.
' Yes, and even though we've eaten a mind-boggling amount of amazing food, I can't help feeling we've only scratched the surface.
Our work here, mucker, is far from done.
Ah, well, it's a tough job but someone's got to do it.
Next time, we'll be heading to the jungles of the far north as the beaches of the south.
What the hell have you come as? You look like an organ grinder.
'And where there's an organ grinder, there's a monkey.
' Flaming Nora! Give us a shout, son, would you, when it's coming? And we'll be uncovering even more of Thailand's exciting cuisine.
I've just seen the future.
It's Thai-shaped.
I'm loving it, dude, I'm loving it!