So what does one do with budu?
One makes kao yam, of course. That’s one sensible, dependable option, anyway. “Itâ€™s the most nutritious dish,â€ Khun Wilaiwan says, “because there’s nothing fattening in it.” Veggies, herbs, budu, fish powder, coconut, a little chili, maybe a few noodles, all mixed together with blue rice. Blue rice? Ya, you betcha! Pretty baby-blue rice dyed with the blue pea flower. This is the same plant frequently used in shampoo around here.
Kao yam is standard street fare in the deep south, and it’s some of the cheapest food available anywhere on earth. These days in Pattani town, one helping goes for 5-7 baht (about 14-19 cents), and in the countryside, you just might get your kao yam for the low, low price of 3 baht (8 cents) because farmers grow the rice right there.
Once again, Khun Wilaiwan was kind enough to translate a recipe. But she was quick to stress: there’s really no going wrong with kao yam, as it depends on the local and seasonal ingredients available. The singular kao yam goal: â€œget as many vegetables as possible because the more vegetables, the more delicious.” And nutritious.
Here’s what you need:
1 cup of cooked rice
A variety of shredded vegetables (cabbage, carrot, cucumber, long beans, bean sprouts, aromatic leaves, etc.)
Delicately fried grated coconut meat
Fried fish powder or dried shrimps
A little pepper powder
A little dried chili powder or a few fresh Thai dragon chilies
Chinese vermicelli (optional; sometimes added to make the dish more delicious and colorful)
Place a cup of cooked rice in a dish. Set all shredded vegetables, fried coconut and fried fish powder to the side, or on top of the rice; then add budu sauce (as much as you like). Top the dish with pepper powder and dried chili powder or a few fresh Thai dragon chilies (as you favor). Mix all ingredients together before eating.
Thank you again, Khun Wilaiwan!