Thailand last week gave South Koreans a chance to sample khao kluk kapi – rice with shrimp paste – at the Asean Culinary Festival, held in Seoul and hosted by the Asean-Korea Centre.
A favourite among Thais because of its robust taste, the dish is typically served with an array of accompaniments such as sliced cucumber, sliced shalฌlot, purple onion, fried shrimp, sour mango, chillies, thinly-sliced omelette, sweetened roasted pork and Chinese sausage.
Foreigners tend to know only a few Thai dishes, such as tom yam kung and pad thai, so the chance to try khao kluk kapi at the Thai food kiosk in Seoul caused something of a sensation.
“Every time we’ve held Thai food events, we’ve only included commonly known dishes. So this time, we decided to introduce a new dish that we are certain will become another favourite among foreigners,” a Tourism Authority of Thailand official at the Thai kiosk said.
Khao kluk kapi is virtually impossible to find at a Thai restaurant overseas, she added.
The Thai kiosk also introduced bua loy nam kati – tapioca in coconut cream – which also earned instant admirers.
Khao kluk kapi was introduced in a demonstration video screened during the festival’s opening ceremony and viewers were seen scanning the event’s programme pamphlet for more information.
The Thai kiosk was among the most popular at the food fair, with visitors seekฌing advice on preparing the dish and its accompaniments.
“This is real Thai food because it’s spicy and tasty,” one foreign fan said. “I can choose the level of spiciness, though. If I don’t want it too spicy, I mix the chillฌies in the side dish with a little rice, and if I want to make it sour, I mix in the sliced mango.”
In welcoming remarks, AseanKorea Centre secretarygeneral Lee Hyuk said Southeast Asia was already globally famous as a gastronomic paradise and Koreans were no strangers to cuisine.
“Why do we travel? I think we travel to see and eat.
AKC's Secretary General Lee Hyuk, delivering the opening remarks at the 2018 ASEAN Culinary Festival Opening Ceremony.
“Korean travellers are known to be very keen about trying the diverse cuisine of different countries, and about 7 million Koreans travel around Southeast Asia not only for beautiful sights, but also for the food, be it exquiฌsite restaurant food or ordinary street food,” Lee said.
This year’s Asean Culinary Festival was themed “Gourmet Trips to Asean” and showcased a slew of ricebased dishes and desserts.
Brunei presented nasi katok (rice with side dishes and chilli sauce) and bubur pulut hitam (black glutinous rice porridge). Cambodia offered sack kor ang jangkak (rice with grilled skewered beef) and borbor thnot (palmseed dessert).
Indonesia had bubur ayam (chicken rice congee) and kue lumpur (custard cake), while Laos offered pher (beef noodle soup) and khao sang kah gna (black and white sticky rice). Malaysia, meanwhile, served up nasi tomato with ayam masak merah (tomato rice with Malaystyle red chicken) and kuih seri muka (layered glutinous rice cake).
From Myanmar came nan gyi thoke (rice noodle salad) and shwe kyi (rice pudding), from the Philippines bringhe (sticky rice with meat and seafood) and ginataang halohalo (coconut milk with tapioca), from Singapore laksa and pandan cake, and from Vietnam pho ga (chicken noodle soup) and nem/cha gio (fried spring rolls).
Another highlight of the festival was when celebrity chefs Lee Wonil of South Korea and Haji Ismail Ahmad of Malaysia had the audience in fits of laughter as they took the stage for a cooking show.
Lee, 38, stars in the hit TV variety show “Please Take Care of My Refrigerator” and owns the Dear Bread bakery, while Haji, 56, owns Malay restaurant Rebung and also hosts cooking shows on television. Haji was once branded Malaysia’s ambassador.
Though the two had met on stage for the first time, they performed like a seasoned duo, prompting suggestions that they should do a cooking show on TV. Lee often called Haji “father”, due to the age difference, while Haji played along referring to Lee as his Korean son.
Apart from displaying Asean cuisine, the festival also featured booths offering beverages from the region. There were also public events offering information on gastronomy tourism, traditional performances and giveaways.
The Asean Culinary Festival, which has been held for three consecutive years, attracted 3,500 and 4,100 visitors in 2016 and 2017 respectively, giving the Korean public an opportunity to enjoy authentic dishes.