Even if it doesn't have as high a profile as cabbage or Chinese broccoli, no discussion of the vegetables used in Thai kitchens is complete without mention of the long, white root vegetable known in Thai as hua pakad or hua chai thao. It is used as a basic ingredient in some dishes and to improve the flavour of others, and even plays an important role in certain festivals.
During the Chinese New Year festival, for example, two sets of offerings are made. The first, made before noon on the first day, is made to ancestors, and includes chicken, pork, duck, fish, fried fine-gauge rice noodles and fruit.
Later, in the afternoon, another offering is made to spirits who are not relatives, but who are believed to exist everywhere and may be near the house. The offerings made to them are similar to the ones made to ancestors.
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