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跟着厨师游清迈

Tracing His Menus Back to Chiang Mai
跟着厨师游清迈

TO drive around Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the chef and restaurateur Andy Ricker is to experience a particular sort of hungry man’s torment. That place, he said, pointing at a storefront or street stall, is known for stir-fried noodles, that other one for fish-head soup. We would pass right by. Elsewhere, he nodded toward a busy restaurant that he called the most famous place in town to get khao soi, a Chiang Mai specialty. Again, we drove past. By this point in his career, his standards are set. “Too sweet,” he said.

和厨师兼餐厅老板安迪·里克尔(Andy Ricker)一起驱车周游泰国清迈,对于一个肚子饿的人来说是一种特别折磨人的体验。他会指着一个店面或者一个货摊说,这里最有名的是爆炒面,那里最有名的又是鱼头汤。而我们只会径直路过。在另一个地方,他又会朝着一家火爆的餐厅点头,说那是城里吃清迈特色菜清迈面(khao soi)最有名的地方,然后我们会再一次驱车驶过。到了厨师生涯的这个阶段,他的口味标准已经定型。他会说:“那太甜了。”
  
Mr. Ricker, a 47-year-old, six-foot-tall native Vermonter now based in Portland, Ore., has become an unlikely ambassador for Thai food in the United States. Your only visual clue that he is someone who knows his nahm phrik noom from his nahm phrik ong is a glimpse at his right arm, which is tattooed with a mortar and pestle, bird’s eye chiles, and the holy trinity of northern Thai herbs — cilantro, green onion and phak chi farang (the last often known in the West as sawtooth).

47岁的里克尔身高6英尺,原是佛蒙特州人,目前居住在俄勒冈州的波特兰。他出人意料地成为了泰国菜在美国的“传播大使”。外表上看不出他是个能分清绿辣椒沾酱(nahm phrik noom)和番茄辣肉酱(nahm phrik ong)的人,除了他的右臂,那上面纹着研砵和杵子,以及泰式辣椒和泰北的三大香草——芫荽叶、青葱和 “phak chi farang”的图案(最后一样在西方通常称为锯齿芫荽)。
 

繁忙的木城(Muang Mai)市场。
 
I have followed Pok Pok, his first Portland venture, since it opened in 2005, tracing its transformation from a takeout shack in his garage to a sprawling, perpetually packed restaurant. I was struck by his refusal to pander to Western tastes. Instead of pushing pad thai and peanut sauce, he serves hoy thawt, an egg-and-mussel crepe found at Thai night markets, and northern-Thai-style laap. Rather than the tart, spicy minced-meat “salad” from the northeast that most adventurous American eaters recognize, this version is spiked with blood and offal, and fragrant dried spices that give it a beguilingly bitter edge. Mr. Ricker now presides over a mini-empire in Portland with four restaurants (including Ping and Whiskey Soda Lounge) that serve food you rarely see outside of Southeast Asia. (By early 2012, he plans to open two restaurants in New York City, one on the Lower East Side and one in Brooklyn.)

自从他在波特兰的第一家店Pok Pok在2005年开张之后,我就一直跟踪着这家店,见证了它从一个车库里的外卖摊发展成一个远近闻名且永远有人打包的餐厅。里克尔拒绝迎合西式品味的做法让我吃惊。他不主推泰式炒河粉和花生酱,而是推出hoy thawt,一种来源于泰国夜市的鸡蛋配蛏子的煎饼;还有一种泰北风味的生肉沙拉。那并不是大多数勇于尝试的美国食客所熟悉的泰国东北部酸辣碎肉沙拉,而是另一种做法:加入血和内脏,还有各种芳香的干香料,让它有种令人陶醉的微苦调子。里克尔如今在波特兰的餐饮小帝国包括4家餐厅(其中有Ping餐厅和威士忌苏打餐厅[Whiskey Soda Lounge]),供应一些在东南亚以外的地方很少见的食物。(他计划到2012年初在纽约开两家餐厅,分别在下东区和布鲁克林区。)

Eager to learn more about Thai cuisine, I arranged to meet him during a trip to Portland to discuss the possibility of writing a cookbook. He had already been considering it, so we agreed to collaborate. Our first order of business, he insisted, was a trip to Chiang Mai to eat at the places that inspired the food at Pok Pok. While he makes food from all over Thailand, he is especially enamored of the food of the north.

我渴望了解更多泰国料理的知识,于是在游历波特兰时安排了与他见面,商量看是否有可能写一本食谱。他本来就有这样的打算,于是我们就同意合作了。他坚持我们的第一项议程是去一趟清迈,去那些启发过他创作Pok Pok餐厅菜品的地方吃东西。虽然他创作的菜色来自全泰国各个地方,但他特别钟情于北部的食物。

It was there that he first encountered a bowl of curry — devoid of coconut milk, but full of local wild mushrooms — that convinced him there was an entire universe of Thai food unknown to Westerners. And it is where he has returned most often during the past two decades to meticulously research the dishes that end up on his menus. So in May we made the trip, hitting a few of the dining spots that provided some of his earliest revelations. I discovered dishes that were staggeringly tasty, but also humbling reminders of how little even a self-appointed Thai food fanatic like me actually knows about the country’s cuisine. And none of our meals cost more than 200 baht (about $6 at about 29 baht to the dollar) for two people.

在那里,他第一次碰见一碗咖喱,里面没有椰奶,却满是当地的野生蘑菇——这让他相信,在泰国菜中有一整个不为西方人所知的世界。过去20年间他经常回到这里,仔细地研究那些后来进入他菜谱的菜色。于是在5月,我们终于成行,走访了几个给了他最初启发的餐饮点。我尝试到了一些美味得令人难以置信的菜色,同时也提醒了我这个自封为泰国菜拥趸的人,我对于这个国家的美食原来是多么地无知。而且,我们没有一顿饭双人花费超过200铢(每美元29铢算,大概在6美元左右)。

SP Chicken

In Chiang Mai, there is food everywhere: rows of vendors selling bowls of noodles or coils of sausage, bustling outdoor markets where inscrutable soups and stews are set out in trays and in plastic to-go bags, and street stalls where treats hidden inside banana leaf packages are grilled over charcoal. “In the beginning, you have no idea what any of this stuff is,” Mr. Ricker said as we ogled dozens of bowls of chile relishes at a covered market. “And you can’t ask anyone because you don’t know more than a few words of Thai.”

在清迈,到处都有吃的:一排排的小摊在售卖面条和香肠卷;热闹的露天市场里,神秘莫测的汤和炖品装在盘子和塑料外卖袋子里;很多路边摊用蕉叶包裹着食物,放在木炭上烤。“一开始,你完全不知道这些是什么东西,” 里克尔说,当时我们正在一个室内市场里看着一碗碗辣椒调味品眼馋:“而且你没法去问任何人,因为你会说的泰语也没几句。”

It was good fortune, then, that early in his adventures, he met Chavalit Van, known as Mr. Lit. Now in his early 60s, Mr. Lit opened SP Chicken in 1977 on the moat road that surrounds the old city. He recently retired, leaving the daily operation of the restaurant to his wife and daughter, but Mr. Ricker almost always spots him out back, entertaining his grandson.

幸好在他冒险生涯的早期遇上了被称为“利先生”的昭华利(Chavalit Van)。现年60多岁的利先生1977年在旧市区周边的护城河边开了SP Chicken餐厅。他最近才退休,把日常经营交给了他的妻子和女儿,不过里克尔几乎总能看到他在餐厅后面和孙子玩。

The first thing you see at SP Chicken — and the items that first caught Mr. Ricker’s attention — are the lemongrass- and garlic-stuffed chickens rotating out front on a vertical spit beside a wall of glowing charcoal. “When I finally approached him to figure out how he did it,” said Mr. Ricker, of Mr. Lit’s poultry, “I said something in halting Thai and he responded in near-perfect English.” They struck up a friendship, and later Mr. Lit taught him how he modified the cheap rotisseries you find in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

人们在SP Chicken里看到的第一样东西——也是当年引起里克尔注意的第一样东西,是里面塞了柠檬香草和大蒜的鸡,它们被插在垂直的烤肉叉上,在店前一堆灼热的木炭上转动着。“最后我终于走过去问他这是怎么做的,”里克尔说起利先生的这些禽类菜肴:“我用蹩脚的泰语说了几句话,而他用几乎完美的英语回答了我。”他们一下子就成为了朋友,后来利先生还教他怎样改装那些能在曼谷唐人街找得到的便宜烧烤叉。

During a brief but furious Thai rainstorm, we sat beneath the restaurant’s aluminum awning on plastic chairs while the two old friends caught up. As we ate sticky rice, papaya salad and those flavor-packed birds, hacked into pieces and served with a sweet, spicy dipping sauce, they discussed the toils of running restaurants. The food is incredibly good, but it’s not just the flavors at SP Chicken that inspired Mr. Ricker. “I love that he has been making more or less the same food for more than 30 years,” he said.

在泰国一场短暂的暴雨中,我们坐在餐厅的铝制遮篷下,两位老朋友坐在塑料椅子上叙旧,吃着糯米、木瓜沙拉和那些填了香料且剁成薄片,蘸甜辣酱的鸡。他们聊起经营餐厅的辛苦。食物自然是极其美味的,但启发了里克尔的不仅仅是SP Chicken餐厅用的香料。“我喜欢的是,他30多年来基本一直在做同样的食物。”他说。

SP Chicken, 31/1 Sri Phum Road; no phone.

地址:SP Chicken,31/1 Sri Phum Road;无电话

Krua Phech Doi Ngam

SP Chicken serves food mainly from Isaan, the northeast region of Thailand. But the area west of Isaan, often referred to as northern Thailand, explained Mr. Ricker, has its own distinctive cuisine, and he was eager to replicate the happy bewilderment he felt when he first discovered the distinction. So we headed toward Krua Phech Doi Ngam, a restaurant with an encyclopedic menu of local dishes. We sampled several that have counterparts at Pok Pok, including jin hoom (a beef stew seasoned with turmeric), yam kai meuang (an intensely flavored chicken soup) and yam samun phrai (an herb-heavy salad).

“SP Chicken”餐厅供应的主要是泰国东北部伊森地区的食物。不过里克尔说,伊森西部通常被称为泰北,那里也拥有独特的烹饪菜色,他很想回味自己当初发现这种区别时那种悦愉的困惑。于是我们便前往“Krua Phech Doi Hgam”,这家餐厅的菜谱如同当地菜色的百科全书。我们选取了几样在“Pok Pok”有对应菜色的菜品,包括“jin hoom”(一种用姜黄调味的炖牛肉)、“yam kai meuang”(一种香气浓烈的鸡汤)和“yam samun phrai”(一种加入大量香草的沙拉)。

The salad was a particular highlight: a boisterous sweet-tart jumble of more than a dozen ingredients, including thinly sliced betel leaf, fried shallots, cashews and shredded fresh white turmeric. “This dish really kicked it off for me,” Mr. Ricker said. “I thought, ‘If this is northern Thai food, then I love northern Thai food.’ ”

沙拉是其中特别的亮点:包括蒌叶薄片、油煎大葱、腰果和磨碎的新鲜白姜黄等十几种原料的混合带来强烈的酸甜味道。“这一道菜真的让我开了窍,”里克尔说:“我当时想,‘如果这就是泰北菜,那我就爱上泰北菜了。’”

Krua Phech Doi Ngam, 125/3 Moo 3, Mahidon Road; (66-53) 812-051.

地址:Krua Phech Doi Ngam, 125/3 Moo 3, Mahidon Road;电话:(66-53)812-051

Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham

Because a trip to Chiang Mai without a bowl of khao soi would be like a trip to Texas without barbecued brisket, our next destination was Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham to sample one of Mr. Ricker’s favorite renditions of the dish. In an open-air space, with a basic kitchen in front, a busy staff fills bowl after bowl with house-made noodles, then a ladle full of ruddy, pork-and-chicken-based broth from an enormous pot, a small dose of fresh coconut cream, and finally a little crown of crunchy fried noodles.

去清迈不吃一碗清迈面,就好比去德克萨州不吃烤排骨一样,因此我们的下一站是去Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham餐厅,到里克尔认为做清迈面做得最好的地方去尝一尝。在一片户外空间里,一个简单的厨房在前面,忙碌的员工们一碗接一碗地盛出自制面条,然后拿长柄勺从一个巨大的锅里舀一勺色泽红润,以猪肉和鸡肉为底料的饱满肉汤,加少量新鲜椰浆,最后再盖上一点鲜脆的炸面条。

Almost 20 years ago, Mr. Ricker’s initial slurp of this particularly fine version — just barely sweet, with complex flavors of Thai curry paste and a hint of Burmese curry powder — was a watershed moment. Much of northern food confronts newcomers with exciting but occasionally challenging flavors. Not so khao soi. “It’s exotic without being weird and, most important, completely delicious,” Mr. Ricker said.

几乎20年前,里克尔第一次尝到这种特别的面条。它刚好有一点甜味,加上泰式咖喱酱层次丰厚的香味,还有一丝缅甸咖喱粉的味道;那是一个重要的时刻。很多泰北食物都让初次尝试的人品味到一种令人兴奋的香味,但有时会太刺激。清迈面却不会这样。“它很有异国风情,但并不怪异,而且最重要的是,它绝对美味。”里克尔说。

Just a few minutes after he ordered, plates cluttered our table, an uneven surface that he guessed was a repurposed door draped with bright-blue oilcloth. Bowls of khao soi were joined by an assortment of northern Thai dishes that I’d never eaten in the States, except at Pok Pok: gaeng hung leh (hunks of pork belly and shoulder in a rich curry), nahm phrik noom (a fiery green-chile relish) and sai ua (herbaceous pork sausage).

他点菜之后才几分钟,我们的桌上就已经堆满了盘子,桌子表面凹凸不平,他猜想那是用一扇门改造而成的,上面铺了一场亮蓝色油布。除了清迈面,还有一系列泰北式配菜,在美国,除了Pok Pok之外我没在其他任何地方吃过这些:gaeng hung leh(大块的咖喱猪肚和猪肘子)、nahm phrik noom(一种劲辣的绿辣椒沾酱)还有sai ua(加了香草的猪肉香肠)。

Between bites, Mr. Ricker asked a waitress in Thai about the particulars of the khao soi broth, which in turn led to a discussion of the restaurant’s history. The waitress led us to her mother, the proprietor of the more than 70-year-old establishment, who guided us to a two-color placard hanging in the dining room — a photo of her mother in the same spot, as a young woman, many decades ago.

吃饭时里克尔用泰语向一位服务员询问清迈面汤的特别用料,接着谈到了这家餐厅的历史。这位服务员带我们去见了她的母亲,这家拥有超过70年历史的餐厅的主人。这位母亲又领着我们去饭厅,看挂在墙上的黑白画像——那是她自己的母亲的照片,好几十年前就在那同一个地方照的,照片里是个年轻的女子。

Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham, 352/22 Charoen Rat Road; (66-53) 243-519.

地址:Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham, 352/22 Charoen Rat Road;电话:(66-53)243-519

Pa Daeng Jin Tup

“Restaurant” might be too strong a word for this spot on a dirt patch on the side of the road, about 15 minutes northeast of Chiang Mai, now scattered with a hodgepodge of tables and benches haphazardly nailed together. “It’s amazing what Thai cooks can accomplish in such rudimentary kitchens,” Mr. Ricker said, as we watched the cook use a crude pulley system to raise and lower a meat-covered rack over glowing charcoal.

在清迈向东北约15分钟路程之外,“餐厅”这个词对于这个位于路边一小片泥地上的地方来说,似乎有点过头了。这里散乱地摆着一堆桌子,长凳子乱七八糟地钉在一起。“令人吃惊的是,泰式烹饪就在这样原始的厨房里达到了这样的高度。”里克尔说。此时我们正看着厨师用一个简陋的滑轮组来控制铺着肉的烤架在热炭上的升降。

Pa Daeng specializes in northern Thai drinking food — one of Mr. Ricker’s newest obsessions, which he explores at Whiskey Soda Lounge. We alternated slugs of Leo beer on ice with bites of charred pig teat, jin tup (grilled flank steak whacked with a hammer until it shreds), sour fermented ground pork, and tremendously tasty but comically tough strips of beef. “I’ve heard they call it ‘crying tiger’ because not even a tiger could chew it,” Mr. Ricker said.

Pa Daeng Jin Tup餐厅的特色是泰北的下酒菜——里克尔最新迷上的菜系,并且也正在他的威士忌苏打餐厅里尝试。我们一边大口喝着豹王(Leo)冰啤酒,一边咬着烤焦的猪乳头、jin tup(用槌子打碎的侧腹牛排做的烤肉)、发酵的酸碎猪肉,还有极度美味但是硬得出奇的牛肉条。“我听说他们管它叫‘老虎哭’,因为连老虎都嚼不开它。”里克尔说。

The mom in this mom-and-pop operation recognized Mr. Ricker (not many foreigners make it here) and came over to chat. “Made from pig brain,” she said in Thai, watching me dig into a custardy bundle that had been grilled in a banana leaf. “If you eat it, you’ll get smart,” she added with a laugh.

这家夫妻合营店里的妻子认出了里克尔(因为知道这里的外国人并不多),于是就走过来聊天。看到我在琢磨一团包在蕉叶里烤熟的糊状食物,她便用泰语说:“那是用猪脑做的。”然后她笑着加了一句:“你吃了就会变聪明。”

Mr. Ricker was in his element and happy, having befriended one of the cats slinking around at our feet and having so clearly succeeded in his quest to impress me. Gesturing at the colorful plastic plates that we had leisurely emptied, he asked a rhetorical question: “Did you ever think Thai food could taste like this?”

几只猫在我们脚边溜来溜去,里克尔和其中一只玩熟了,而这一次旅行他也成功地让我开了眼界,里克尔为此感到悠然自得。他指着那堆我们已经不慌不忙吃干净了的彩色盘子,明知故问道:“你想得到泰国菜能有这样的味道吗?”

Pa Daeng Jin Tup, Ban San Sai, Noy Moo 9, Highway 1001, San Sai; no phone.

地址:Pa Daeng Jin Tup, Ban San Sai, Noy Moo9, Highway 1001, San Sai;无电话
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