It seems like every time I visit LV, there's a new fancy-schmancy casino opening and Mom always insists on taking me to see it. This time it was Steve Wynn's Encore. I think she was a bit disappointed I didn't want to go, but I'm just not into that sort of thing.
I wanted to go to a fish market instead.
I was in the mood for fish so I conned my 19 year old nephew into going to Seafood City, a Pinoy grocery and fish market. The selection was quite impressive. There were at least 20 fresh, fully intact types of fish available, labeled with where they were from and whether they were farmed or wild (if only I had brought my camera!!). In addition, there were live tanks with crab and a shrimp bar with a selection of fresh shrimp (some with heads! yay!). You pick the fish you want and bring it up to a counter for weighing. They will also clean and fry the fish for you, free of charge. (Fried smelt, anyone?)
Pompano are cute, aren't they? Especially when they're marinating in soy sauce, white pepper and lots (lots!) of garlic. They were simply fried to a crisp and eaten with sticky rice and dipping sauce.
Now, we get great seafood here in Portland, but the selection can be a bit limited. I had the opposite problem at Seafood City. I just didn't know what the hell to choose. Las Vegas is landlocked so everything was obviously shipped in, some from far away places. Made it kinda hard to choose local. I finally settled on a couple large streaked spinefoot and a few small pompano.
If one is called a spinefoot, then two would be spinefeet?? In any case, they were rubbed with a paste made of garlic, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and salt. Before we steamed them, mom doused them with a couple splashes of Healthy Boy mushroom soy sauce.
BTW, if you go to a place like Seafood City, you need to put on your poker face. Not because of any fishy smells. I was actually pleasantly surprised that it only smelled of the sea. But you may witness some unforgettable moments. Like when one customer dropped her fish on the floor, picked it up with her hands (completely unphased) and put it back in the plastic bag from which it fell. Or the other customer that tried to stuff a giant, fresh squid into a plastic bag that was not quite big enough. Apparently she didn't mind that the tentacles were splayed out in her cart, along with her other grocery items. It was simultaneously horrifying and hysterical. (Note to self: Never put fresh produce into a cart if it's not securely tied in a plastic bag. You never know who's been using the cart before you.)
What started out as a couple of fish dishes turned into a fish feast. In addition to the spinefoot and pompano we had fried mackerel courtesy of one of Mom's friends, shrimp fried rice and tom yum goong (which I made and Mom loved! yay!). Mom even made a delicious fish dip spiked with fermented fish juice! Yum!
Bottom row: pompano. Top row: mackerel. People are always trying to do fish in some fancy way, but to me there's nothing better than crispy fried salted fish. I guess I'm just a country bumpkin :-)
When making tom yum, to prevent hard, rubbery shrimp, don't add them in until after you've added all the other ingredients and seasoned the soup to your liking. Turn off the heat and drop the shrimp in. Don't stir! Just put the lid on and wait about 5 to 7 minutes, then serve.
There's a fermenting fish in there! Mom used the juice to make a dip with fire roasted tomatoes, shallots, garlic, chilies and some fish meat. It really did taste a lot better than it sounds.
Shrimp fried rice for my stepdad. He doesn't eat much Thai food. Puzzling, huh?
And here are some final random pictures:
And here are some final random pictures:
Grilled sticky rice. Thai sticky rice is steamed then cooked with coconut milk, sugar and salt. The rice is put into a banana leaf then grilled. This batch has a layer of taro (faintly purple), which is a little hard to see. My relatives brought these all the way from Michigan.
Mom called these Daughter-in-law eggs. It's fried eggs topped with a Thai-style sweet and sour pork stir fry. Apparently peas are the norm but she just used some left over veggie mix from Christmas dinner.
Another of Mom's friends missed our seafood extravaganza, but brought this over the following day. It was awesome! Crispy fried tilapia with a sweet, garlicky, spicy sauce. Better than what you can get at any restaurant!
Stir-fried bean sprouts don't sound very exciting, but this is a very flavorful dish. It has lots of garlic and simply seasoned with mushroom soy sauce and oyster sauce. This is more the type of simple stir-fry I grew up eating.
That's it! Hope you enjoyed seeing the type of Thai food we eat at home.