ASK ME! Sweet Thai Iced Tea

Do you have a recipe for sweet Thai iced tea with lemon instead of the condensed or evaporated milk traditionally used? What spices are used? Thank you very much. —Rose in Massachusetts The thing about Thai iced tea is that condensed milk, cream and/or evaporated milk are key to the traditional recipe, which generally calls […]

ASK ME! Phuket eating

I am traveling to Phuket, Thailand, this month and was wondering if you have any recommended restaurants/cafes. Thank you for your assistance, and happy eating! –Emma, Sydney Emma, I admit it’s been a while since I’ve seen Phuket. I spent a month there while working on a Fodor’s update just before the tsunami hit in […]

ASK ME! cloves

What are cloves? Where do they come from? A tree? A bush? –Dave, wondering in New Mexico This rock-hard, nail-shaped nub of spice is the dried flower bud of an evergreen tree, syzygium aromaticum, of the Myrtaceae family, which is native to Indonesia’s Spice Islands (click here to see pictures of living trees and their […]

ASK ME! palm oil, palm kernel oil

What is the difference between palm oil and palm kernel oil? — DC Both oils come from tropical oil palm trees (two species, African and American), which yield a fruit containing a hard kernel (the seed) surrounded by a pericarp (the flesh). Palm kernel oil is derived from the seed, while palm oil is taken […]

ASK ME! gluten-free Thai, food safety

I’ve been meaning to rejuvenate the ASK ME! department for months, so when I received two questions about Thai food from gluten-free readers on the same day, I figured it was time…. My daughter has celiac, and I noticed you mentioned you are gluten intolerant. I have bought her Thai Kitchen brand noodles a lot, […]

ASK ME! water

Is clean, fresh drinking water a serious problem in Southeast Asia? Is it becoming more of a problem since the Chinese want to dam things up along the big rivers there? If so, how does it affect life there for the locals and travelers? — Joanna, Albuquerque A timely question, considering the Indochina Media Memorial […]

ASK ME! appetizers

It’s traditional for Americans to have appetizers, Italians have antipasto (out of the menu), the French have hors d’oeuvres (outside the work), etc.  Is there a similar tradition for foods before the main course in Asia? — Helen, Wisconsin Some people might say the Thais eat nothing but appetizers! Thais love to nibble all day […]

ASK ME! market travel

My husband and I are planning some Southeast Asian travel revolving around food markets. Wonder if you have any favorite food markets, defined any way you like — size, what’s on offer, outgoing vendors, unusual/interesting produce, setting, etc. — Robyn, Kuala Lumpur Thanks for the question, Robyn. Here are some of my favorites. I’d be […]

ASK ME! green oranges

• Why are Thai oranges green? – Curious reader I’m going to defer this question to my sister-in-law Joanna, a PhD biology student, who can best answer the question. Joanna says her sources say: “The color of citrus fruits only develops in climates with a cool winter. In tropical regions with no winter, citrus fruits […]

ASK ME! curry leaves

• Where do curry leaves come from (tree, bush)? – JoJo, New Mexico Curry leaves come from a tree (sometimes referred to as a shrub), Murraya koenigii, which is native to India and grows wild in the subcontinent and lower Himalayas. The tree generally reaches 4-6 meters, depending on the variety. These aromatic leaves are […]