Bo.lan are on a mission to rediscover the remarkable secrets of Thai food preserved within the pages of ancient Thai texts. After working as part of David Thompson’s Michelin starred team at London's Nahm, Thai-Australian chefs, Dylan Jones and Bo Songvisava, set out for Bangkok where they opened their widely acclaimed restaurant Bo.lan in 2009. Since then they have cultivated a slow food philosophy, practicing ancient cooking rituals and sourcing local seasonal produce. Anothermag.com caught up with them at Film on the Rocks Yao Noi, where they were curating the menu for the festival, and asked them to share a delicious morsel of Thai culinary heritage.
"Nahm Prhik Nakon Baan is a favourite dish of ours because it's quite unusual and utilises one of our favourite ingredients: the Som Saa (Asian Citron). We also like this dish because it uses a variety of sour vegetables to season the relish, which for us showcases the bio diversity that Thai food offers and really highlights the traditional wisdom and understanding of older generations of Thai cooks. The recipe also clearly references its heritage, showing the respect these cooks had for the originators of the dishes they were handing down – a tradition that very few cooks in today’s "gourmet" world seem to acknowledge.
This recipe is from Mae Krua Hua paa which many believe to be the first Thai cookbook published late in the reign of Rama V. This book is a huge milestone in Thai cuisine as before its publication Thai food wisdom was only passed on verbally. Jaew Jong Pit, a remarkable woman from the court, called, chose to chronicle the recipes instead of relying on the verbal tradition. The first book was published in five chapters, however the one we have used is extracted from one of the funeral books published during that time."
Nahm Phrik Nakon Baan:
Dried prawn floss 1 tablespoon
Good quality gapi wrapped in banana leaf and grilled 1 tablespoon
Small birds eye chilli’s to taste
Large red, green and orange chilli’s 7 pieces in total
Mauek (Thai Furry Aubergine) 5 each (use both ripe and green)
Thinly sliced Ragam (sour snake skin pear) 2 each
Madan thnly sliced 2 each (Thai sour cucumber)
Som men (green mandarin) 1 each
Som saa (Asian Citron) ½ each
Maprang Dip (Asian hog plumb)
Young tamarind pods
Pound all ingredients together to form a rough chunky paste. Season with fish sauce, palm sugar. It should taste hot, sour and slightly salty.
Should be eaten with dried fish such as short bodied mackerel or grilled catfish, and vegetables such as apple aubergine, Thai cucumber, morning glory and Siamese mimosa.
This chilli relish is from Tan chao praya phu tarapie, from Mae Klong Hua paa page 33 year 2514, the Funeral Book of Jaew Jong Pit.
Text by Caroline Lever