Knowing who you are is a good thing. Some years ago I had to stop pretending I was Rob Lowe in St Elmo’s Fire. Ok so I never had the looks or the saxophone, but I was a fair match in the joblessness and aimlessness stakes. So I went to Thailand to bum around whilst I tried to work out how to stop bumming around.
It was a time of soul-searching, long clackety train journeys and slightly scary night boats. I was lonely, seeking solace in alcohol and meaningless company. The sun was hot and the night markets were hotter. I tracked down beautiful beaches I was too restless to relax on. There was so much time. Hours could be lost waiting at dusty bus stations. Afternoons gone in airport lounges. Whole mornings disappeared in the fug of hungover indifference. And around every bustling corner, lurid alleyway and beautiful vista was a food opportunity – some tiny wrinkly Thai person selling amazingly fresh cheap flavourful food on the street.
I’ll always remember that ridiculously spicy squid curry off a beach cart in Phuket; that feeling of being on the cusp of a new life direction; and that very first steaming bowl of tom yum soup in a dingy side street near Bangkok train station. Soft, comforting fish balls were floating in it, fresh herbs were here and there, and chunks of unidentifiable sea creatures lurked in that magical broth, the heat and aromatics turned up to 11.
The years have imparted their rosy hue on that Thailand trip. Time has defied known laws of physics and speeded up considerably since then. I sometimes rush around now, get flustered and buy random things like lobsters…
After its foaming butter bath it rested on microwaved watercress and a fragrant rich tom yum cream sauce. I added a hot and sharp Thai style salsa verde with coriander, green chillies, fish sauce, lime juice and zest, loads of garlic and ginger, plus prawn cracker crumbs for fishy body.
lobster, butter, tom yum paste, cream, watercress
coriander, green chilli, prawn crackers, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, lime, oil