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It took a while for us to show any sort of enthusiasm for rice soup (khao dtom) or rice congee (jok) for breakfast in Thailand. What’s to like about a big bowl of bland looking and seemingly tasteless mushiness? We’d rather have our normal fare of oatmeal or eggs and potatoes. But our attitudes changed recently after being served a traditional Thai breakfast at a homestay in southern Thailand, one that was clearly made with skill and love. Now we’re willing to eat it more often!
Khao Dtom, a Traditional Thai Breakfast Food
From what we can tell, there are only a few traditional Thai breakfast foods. One that certainly stands out far above the rest is rice soup (khao dtom or เข้าต้ม) or rice congee or porridge (jok or โจ๊ก). Although they are both made with rice and a clear broth (vegetarian, pork flavored broth) and seasoned with ginger root, shallots, and lemongrass, their textures are different. Khao dtom is cooked long enough so that the rice is slightly softened and swimming in soup, but the congee has a homogeneous oatmeal consistency.
The latter doesn’t sound too appetizing, right? We don’t mind admitting that we don’t care too much for jok. It has an acquired texture, but it’s something very popular with locals.
While in Chumphon (pronounced shoom-pawn), a Thai province in southern Thailand just north of Phuket and Krabi, it was almost expected that we would be served khao dtom before an early morning trip to explore a local island. And it was a seafood version, appropriately so.
Filled with hearty slices of fish steaks and plump shrimp cooked perfectly, this has been our favorite bowl to date! The fish version is known as khao dtom blah and the shrimp version is called khao dtom goong.
Ah, and the savory toppings! This includes fried garlic bits, freshly diced chives and cilantro, freshly grated ginger, and salted daikon radish pieces. We were also served a bowl of vinegar with fresh chilies to add a little extra umphf to the dish.
Thai Sweets Wrapped in Banana Leaves
As an extra treat, our homestay hosts brought out little snacks wrapped in banana leaves.
We’ve known these to be delicious, but all it takes is one bad experience with these surprise packaged snacks and you’ll quickly glance over them in the market.
One time we bought a few and we opened them up expecting ooey gooey sweet coconut deliciousness and it ended up being ooey gooey putrid fish! That experience certainly took the wind out of our sails!
But these little treats restored our confidence. Inside one package were little balls of steamed black sticky rice with sweetened coconut milk topped with candied shredded coconut (khao neow nah maprow or ข้าวเหนียวหน้ามะพร้าว). Inside the other neatly wrapped treat was kanom sai sai or ขนมใส่ไส้ (also known as kanom sot sai or ขนมสอดไส้), a pyramid of gelatinous coconut cream stuffed with candied shredded coconut.
Yyuuuuuuuummmm. Luckily we had a few other people to share the plate of goodies with. Otherwise, we would have eaten them all! It was the perfect ending to a traditional Thai breakfast.
Contact Information for Baan Mai Chai Klong Homestay
The riverside homestay in Chumphon is called Baan Mai Chai Klong (บ้านไม้ชายคลอง). Although we didn’t spend the night there, it’s possible to rent very basic Thai accommodations.
Phone: (080) 779-1650
Facebook: Baan Mai Chai Klong Homestay บ้านไม้ชายคลอง โฮมสเตย์
Not only do they serve up a delicious traditional Thai breakfast but their seafood lunch is amazing, too! Visiting this homestay is part of the Ban Bang Son Community Tourism Group’s initiative to bring sustainable tourism to the area. Day trips include planting mangrove trees, visiting a crab nursery, and rebuilding the coral reefs off Koh Khai.
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DISCLOSURE: The visit to the Baan Mai Chai Klong Homestay was part of the Chumphon Fam Trip hosted by TBEX Asia 2015. A big thanks goes to Go Thailand Tours, which organized the trip. All opinions are our own.