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Archive for September, 2011

Hua Hin Morning Market

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Chatchai Market in Hua Hin (also transliterated as Chat Chai), is well worth a visit. Whenever we head to the south of Thailand, on our own or when we used to during one of Kasma’s small-group tours to Thailand, we always plan to stop.

An Aisle in Hua Hin Market

An interior view of the market

The market is located off the main highway, highway 4, also called Thanon Phetkasem (Phetkasem Street); it’s on the right as you head south. The southernmost boundary of the market is Thanon Dechanuchit (Dechanuchit Street). The market is mostly indoors, with a little spillage to the street.

This is mainly a market for locals, featuring fresh ingredients of all kinds: vegetables, fruit, fresh-pressed coconut milk, meats, fowl and seafood. It also includes stalls with dried ingredients (dried shrimp, etc.) and prepared food. On the north end there are a number of shops catering more to the many fahrang (Caucasian) tourists and selling beach attire, colorful shirts, straw mats for the beach and so on.

(Click images to see larger version. There’s a slideshow of all images in the blog plus more at the bottom of the page.)

We go largely just to enjoy the lively, colorful display of fresh food.

Inside Hua Hin Market

Inside Hua Hin Market

Different markets throughout Thailand have different feels. This market is one of the most bustling markets we go to: the aisles are a bit narrow and it seems as if there is always someone wanting to get past you in the cramped quarters. Often you’ll have to scrunch over to one side to allow a motorcycle (often making a delivery, the item in a box on the back of the motorcycle) to edge past you. So be prepared to be jostled and don’t block the aisle too badly when you take photographs!

I always look forward to one of the aisles at the market where you find all kinds of dried foods; for years I’ve tried to reproduce the wonderful palette of oranges and reds created by the stacks of dried shrimps, vegetables and fruits.

Dried Food Stall

Colorful dried shrimp and more

Various Dried Foods

Close-up of dried foods

Fish Vendors

Fish vendors

When I think of Hua Hin Market, one thing that I always think of is fresh seafood. Hua Hin is right on the coast and the market naturally contains a whole section with many seafood vendors. The aisles in this section can be a bit treacherous: they are often very damp and often a bit slimy from water used to clean and refresh the seafood. Tread carefully! Usually a vendor will specialize in one thing or another: fresh fish, shrimp, squid or crabs, for instance. In addition to the fresh seafood, you’ll find all kinds of dried fish, squid and shrimp. When you see all the fresh seafood, openly displayed, you wonder how on earth all of it can get sold and what happens to the surplus. Luckily, Thais love seafood so probably hardly any of it goes to waste.

Whole Fish For Sale

Whole fish for sale

Dried Mackerel

Dried mackerel in baskets

One item that we always look for here is jackfruit (kanoon or kanun); it always seems to be good from this market. When you visit Thailand you really must try jack fruit: it has a subtle, delicious flavor unlike nearly any other fruit. It’s found in many markets already cut out of its matrix and ready to eat: something you appreciate much more if you’ve ever had to prepare it yourself!

Preparing Jackfruit

Preparing jackfruit for sale

Jackfruit Fruit

Jackfruit fruit, ready to eat

As befits a local market, there are a large number of vendors with fresh vegetables, ranging from large stalls with just about everything, to small vendors on a straw mat on the ground with just a few items to offer. As usual, you’ll find any vegetable you could desire for cooking Thai food, including items that we would love to be able to buy in the U.S., such as “rhizome” (krachai) and fresh, green peppercorns. In addition, you’ll find varieties of vegetables that are very different from what you’ll find back home. One example is the long, green eggplant (makeua yao) that is so delicious when roasted; you’ll even find it here already roasted – all you need to do is take it home and easily finish a delicious Roasted Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua You).

Vegetables for Sale

Vegetables for sale

Roasted Green Eggplants

Roasted green eggplants

Hua Hin Municipal Market Slide Show

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Inside Hua Hin Market
An Aisle in Hua Hin Market
Dried Food Stall
Various Dried Foods
More Dried Shrimp
Fish Vendors
Whole Fish For Sale
Prawns For Sale
Fresh Crabs
Dried Mackerel
Dried Fish
Preparing Jackfruit
Jackfruit Fruit
Yellow Mangoes
Vegetables for Sale
Green Peppercorns
Roasted Green Eggplants
Palm Sugar
Dried Chilli Paste
Fresh Chilli Sauces
Butcher Stalls
Egg Vendor
Making Coconut Milk
Meat on Sticks
Grilled Fish Vendor
Frying Fish Cakes
Miang Kam to Go
Donut Holes
Flower Stall

One of the aisles at Hua Hin Market; notice the motor scooter in back.

Here's a view of Hua Hin Market from the inside.

There are numerous stalls selling dried shrimp and the like.

Here are several kinds of dried foods, including colorfully orange dried shrimp, to the right.

Here are 4 different dried shrimps, packaged to sell.

Hua Hin is on the coast and the market features numerous vendors of extremely fresh seafood.

Here's one vendor's selection of whole, fresh fish.

Fresh prawns (shrimp) such as these are widely available.

Other vendors offer fresh crabs, such as these.

This dried mackerel (pla too) is one of Thailand's favorite fishes; here it's sold in baskets, ready for steaming or frying.

Other kinds of dried fish are artfully arranged in an aesthetic swirl.

Hua Hin market always seems to have delicious jackfruit; here a vendor separates the fruit to sell.

Here's the fruit of the jackfruit, removed from the sticky matrix and ready to eat.

Of course, there's all kinds of other fruits as well, such as these sweet, yellow mangoes.

Here are orange and green papayas.

Naturally, there are numerous vendors with fresh vegetables; these are artfully displayed indeed.

Thai markets in general have a wealth of exotic ingredients hard to find back in the U.S., such as these fresh, green peppercorns.

The market also offers cooked ingredients that can be taken home and incorporated into a dish, such as these roast green eggplants.

Hua Hin market offers any ingredient you need to cook Thai food. Here are plastic bags of soft, easy-to-use palm sugar.

The market also offers fresh-made chilli pastes and sauces, providing an easy way to make an easy, delicious dish.

Here are some more spicy sauces.

Here's an inner aisle with several butchers offering fresh meat.

This woman offers chicken and duck eggs and also salted duck eggs. You select the eggs and take them home in a plastic bag.

Here a woman is making extracting fresh coconut milk from the flesh of coconuts; notice it running into the front pink bucket.

Of course, there's lots of pre-made food. This vendor is out on the street and offers various meats on sticks, such as satay and sausages.

Here's a grilled fish vendor with a marvelous smile.

Here's a close-up of fish or shrimp cakes fried in oil in a wok.

There's also many different pre-made foods, such as these packages of miang kam.

No market is complete without a complete selection of kanom (snacks), both Thai and, as we see here with these "donut holes," western.

Every Thai market has at least one vendor with colorful flowers; here we also see refreshing young coconut, ready to drink.

Inside Hua Hin Market thumbnail
An Aisle in Hua Hin Market thumbnail
Dried Food Stall thumbnail
Various Dried Foods thumbnail
More Dried Shrimp thumbnail
Fish Vendors thumbnail
Whole Fish For Sale thumbnail
Prawns For Sale thumbnail
Fresh Crabs thumbnail
Dried Mackerel thumbnail
Dried Fish thumbnail
Preparing Jackfruit thumbnail
Jackfruit Fruit thumbnail
Yellow Mangoes thumbnail
Papayas thumbnail
Vegetables for Sale thumbnail
Green Peppercorns thumbnail
Roasted Green Eggplants thumbnail
Palm Sugar thumbnail
Dried Chilli Paste thumbnail
Fresh Chilli Sauces thumbnail
Butcher Stalls thumbnail
Egg Vendor thumbnail
Making Coconut Milk thumbnail
Meat on Sticks thumbnail
Grilled Fish Vendor thumbnail
Frying Fish Cakes thumbnail
Miang Kam to Go thumbnail
Donut Holes thumbnail
Flower Stall thumbnail

Two Previous Blogs on Hua Hin

Five Previous Blogs on Thai Markets

Written by Michael Babcock, September 2011

Basil Salmon

Michael Babcock, Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Here’s a variation on one of the most popular dishes in Thailand – Pad Ka-prao – meaning “stir-fried with (holy) basil.” Almost anything you can think of – pork, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp – can be stir-fried with basil and served over rice. One of my favorite variations of the dish, and a staple when Kasma is out of town because it’s so easy to cook, is Salmon Stir-fried with Basil.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Basil Salmon

Basil Salmon

Pad Ka-prao is one dish that I’ve learned to cook very well. I remember the first time I ever cooked it. It was back in 1992 when I took the beginning cooking series from Kasma; she teaches Spicy Basil Chicken in the second class. As she demonstrated it all looked so very easy and natural. So I decided to cook it for myself at home. That very first time I found out that Kasma’s ease was a bit deceptive; when I cooked it, everything seemed to happen way to fast! Each time I made the dish it became easier and the process seemed to slow down. Practice can, indeed, make perfect.

Basil Salmon Close-up

Basil Salmon - close-up

Learning to cook the dish well has been one of my lessons about the process of learning something new. When I first cooked the dish, my nose was in the recipe because I was so afraid of doing something wrong. As I became more comfortable with the steps, I’ve been able to internalize the recipe and learn how to adapt it to different things.

The basic recipe is Kasma’s Spicy Basil Chicken – Gkai Pad Gkaprow This recipe is a good starting point.

For the dish pictured here, I made a few changes. Because I use Thai sweet basil, rather than holy basil, it is actually pad horapa, stir-fried with Thai sweet basil.

Basil Salmon – Salmon Pad Horapa

Recipe by Michael Babcock
Adapted from a recipe by Kasma Loha-unchit


  • 3 TBs. duck fat or lard
  • 10-12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 red Fresno chillies, in strips
  • 3/4 lb. (335 grams) salmon, in fairly large bite-sized pieces
  • 2+ tsp. black soy sauce, to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs. (or so) fish sauce, to taste
  • Leaves of 1 large bunch Thai sweet basil – bai horapa

Heat the wok until smoking; add the fat, let melt; toss in the garlic; stir-fry for a bit; add in the chillies; stir-fry a bit longer; add the salmon; stir-fry for a bit; sprinkle in and mix the black soy sauce and fish sauce; add the basil and stir-fry until wilted. Serve over rice.


The key to the recipe is not to overcook the salmon; make the pieces a bit larger than bite size and make sure it’s still slightly pink on the inside; you’ll want to work pretty fast, not stir too much (you don’t want the pieces to fall apart), and add the basil early enough so that it will wilt before the salmon overcooks.

This is one dish where I prefer bai horapa – Thai sweet basil – to bai ka-prao – holy basil; I think it goes better with the salmon.

As always, this is a dish you should make your own. None of the quantities are set in stone. Try it with more garlic; or more chillies; or more basil; or less fish sauce. After you’ve cooked it once, try it again within a couple of days to see how the new variation tastes.

[1.] You may notice that I have transliterated the Thai word for holy basil at ka-prao and Kasma has transliterated it as gkaprow. The most common transliteration that you’ll find on the web is actually kra-pao, which makes no sense at all because in the Thai spelling there is no “r” after the initial consonant.

The Thai alphabet differs from the English alphabet. The initial consonant for gkaprow or ka-prao is gaw – gai (or gkaw – gkai), the sound “g” (or “gk”) as used in the word gai (or gkai), meaning chicken. The official Thai transliteration for this consonant, which is actually a cross between a “g” and a “k” is “k”; Kasma prefers to transliterate it as “gk” because this it conveys the sound more accurately. The second syllable can be transliterated either as “prao” (as is official) or “prow” as Kasma has done.

The point is that any spelling of a Thai word that uses English characters rather than Thai characters is very likely not a very good representation of the actual word, particularly because the spelling with Thai characters also gives you the correct tone.

(You can also read A Note on Thai Pronunciation and Spelling.)

Written by Michael Babcock, September 2011