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The high cost of having a BBQ addiction in Thailand

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    The high cost of having a BBQ addiction in Thailand

    My wife and I left for our annual 6 month sojourn to Thailand on October 1st. For the previous 6 months I had been cooking BBQ at least 4 nights a week on a RecTec Maverick, a PBC or a PK360. So, after a week and a half of not cooking, severe BBQ withdrawals set in and I started searching the internet for places to buy a BBQ near where we live. I found a store that sold Weber grills. Almost everything related to BBQ in Thailand comes from the U.S.. Consequently, almost everything related to BBQ costs double or more because of shipping, taxes and customs duties. Given my addiction to BBQ, I just have to grin and bear it.

    I haven't cooked on a Weber Kettle since the late 70's and I was using it then, strictly as a grill. Temp control was a problem until I ran across Kettle Pitmaster's YouTube channel with his very precise advice as to how many briquettes to light for a given target temp. After that, I started enjoying the hell out of the Weber, but every time I'd go back to the BBQ store to buy briquettes, this very beautiful red Kamado Joe Classic II seemed to keep calling my name. I held out for about a month and then one day, when my wife went with me to buy briquettes, I showed her the KJ. To my surprise, she said, "Buy it." It was delivered the next day and the delivery guys unexpectedly assembled it for us out on the covered lanai of our condo.

    Prior to buying the KJ, I had done a lot homework watching John Setzler's Kamado Joe YouTube channel. It's a great resource. Anyway, with what I learned there, I had no trouble sneaking up on and nailing down target temps. Once the vents are set correctly, I haven't seen any more than a very occasional +-10° from the desired temp, and that was on a 5 hour cook with several lid openings for spritzing. The 3 level Divide & Conquer system of split grills and heat deflectors makes grilling or 2-zone cooking or all out smoking, very easy to set up.

    Two bags of Kamado Joe lump that I ordered from Bangkok arrived today, exorbitantly priced, of course. The good news is that I may not need to order any more because my brother-in-law went to a local outdoor market and got me 4 plastic bags of local-made lump charcoal which is very inexpensive, and it seems to work great. No smoke, low ash production and longevity to last for 2 or 3 more cooks.

    Now, if we could only find some prime brisket or heavily marbled ribs or pork butt, I'd be in heaven. In 13 years, I have yet to find a decent cut of Thai beef and even their best looking ribs have very little meat on them. There is no marbling whatsoever and I don't believe they age their meat, at least for the local markets. My wife found a very good grass-fed Australian ribeye at a market that caters to foreigners, so at least it's obtainable, albeit expensive, and pork steaks, pork belly, and local chicken are quite good and readily available.

    Two of my wife's sisters come over every day and cook Thai food for lunch for us. It's almost always delicious. I'm trying to learn some of their seasoning recipes and it's been a hoot. I don't speak Thai and they don't speak English so my wife is the intermediary. They don't measure anything, so every time they pick something up to put in the mix, I make them put it in a measuring cup or spoon first, and then I write it down. We all have a lot of fun. My goal is to adapt their recipes to use on common BBQ items to see how well they work, because the flavors are really good on stir-fried and deep-fried stuff. If anything turns out especially good, I'll post it to the recipe section of the forum.





    #2
    Great write up. Yes when living in foreign countries you need to adapt and overcome.

    Comment


    • holehogg
      holehogg commented
      Editing a comment
      + 1

    • AZ Fogey
      AZ Fogey commented
      Editing a comment
      Ahumadora if only we could get Argentine beef in Thailand.

    #3
    That's really cool! How do they like your American style of cooking and BBQ?

    Comment


    • AZ Fogey
      AZ Fogey commented
      Editing a comment
      My wife actually likes it a lot of the time. She also loves hamburgers and french fries, pizza, and good Mexican food. My Thai in-laws, however, probably find it boring, although they're much too polite to say so. I think that any dish without 10 or 12 red Thai chilies and a dollop of fermented fish sauce doesn't even wake up their taste buds. LOL.

    #4
    Sounds like a real fun 6 months.
    I have heard good things about the binchotan charcoal that is made over there.
    extruded charcoal logs that burn long and clean ,,,,,once you get them going.
    Enjoy !
    Last edited by Greygoose; November 15, 2019, 08:13 AM.

    Comment


    • AZ Fogey
      AZ Fogey commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the tip. I'll see if I can find some. When I google "hardwood charcoal" over here, a lot of alibaba.com Chinese vendors pop up, but their minimum order is usually over a ton.

    #5
    Can you find this Thai charcoal over there?

    Pok Pok Thaan Thai Style Charcoal Logs, 5 lb https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R8HILG8...mazingribs--20

    Of course, I don’t know if it’s truly Thai, but it’s in their name!

    Comment


    • scottranda
      scottranda commented
      Editing a comment
      Must be AUTHENTIC 🤣

    • Greygoose
      Greygoose commented
      Editing a comment
      It says in the description that it's made in Thailand

    • AZ Fogey
      AZ Fogey commented
      Editing a comment
      What I have found is mangrove wood briquettes. The shape is a lot like the pictures of coconut briquettes that I've seen for sale in the U.S, about 3" long, hexagonal shape, with a hole drilled thought the briquette lengthwise. They are very clean burning, but on a Kamado Joe, I don't think I can get any more than two cooks out of them. The down side is that they produce a lot of ash. The up side is that they're really, really cheap.

    #6
    I used to go to Thailand a couple times a year in my old job. I really liked it there and the food! Send some pics of your layout and lunches!!

    Comment


      #7
      Sounds like you are enjoying yourselves and that is what matters. I would appreciate reading more of your efforts combining our classic BBQ with Thai, and the resulting recipes.

      Comment


        #8
        I would think it would be easy to get fresh fish there. That may be a way to get your SILs attention. Also pork belly burnt ends would probably be new to them, and you could throw in some chilis to part just for them.

        Comment


        • AZ Fogey
          AZ Fogey commented
          Editing a comment
          RonB Unfortunately Thai waters are pretty much fished out, kind of like the waters around Hawaii. Locals generally eat very small fish. I think the largest grouper I've seen here was maybe 5 lbs., if that. In previous years, we've been able to buy decent Scandinavian salmon, but this year, even though the salmon looks good, the meat is just mushy. Maybe years of farming salmon have finally come home to roost.

        #9
        Been to Bangkok a couple of years ago but only spent a few days there until traveling to Phuket, our destination. Absolutely gorgeous part of the world but being the world's #1 tourist destination it's gotten so crowded and quite expensive compared to Viet Nam or even the Philippines.

        Anyway, the wife is Filipina and we travel to her province when we can. Everyone in that part of the world do the roasted pig known as Lichon. They use anything available from mango or even bamboo, for their fuel. Problem is they don't bag it up and sell it like they do here, rather cut it themselves. If you can find a source for a local charcoal maker, like in the Philippines, you might be able to get some cheap fuel.

        As to cooking appliances, yea you're pretty much looking at taking a hit. Regardless, enjoy Thailand, it's a great place !!

        Comment


          #10
          Awesome story! Enjoyed reading it, thank you.

          Comment


            #11
            HawkerXP Here's my layout. Lunches to come soon. Click image for larger version

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            Comment


            • Nate
              Nate commented
              Editing a comment
              Beautiful!

            • HawkerXP
              HawkerXP commented
              Editing a comment
              Yowzer! Very nice! Thanks!!

            #12
            Great story, great lay out, great view! Can’t wait to see what you come up with from the cook masters & their spice mixes. Sounds like a real lunch blast. 👍🕶

            Comment


              #13
              Thank you for the great writeup and for starting this topic, AZ Fogey . It sounds like your life is perfectly balanced, and that retired life suits you well. I had missed seeing your posts and wondered if all was going OK with you. Turns out all has been very well indeed, from your post.

              Congrats on the two new cookers. What fun to learn new stuff in a different country, adapting what's available. Keep us posted as you pursue the task of compiling a Thai cookbook for yourself. And keep the photos coming. Sure looks beautiful there.

              Kathryn

              Comment


                #14
                Just checking in on this thread. My wife is Thai and we spend a few weeks there every other year or so- mostly in Bangkok, Ayatthaya, and Muok Lek. The beef issue there is real, brother. My wife says that the only beef that makes it to market are dried up dairy cows. Not sure if that's true, but it sure tastes like it.

                I've not had the opportunity to cook out there - very lucky that I have in-laws tripping over themselves to put food on the table for us. I'm curious, though, if you've found any recipes, rubs, etc., that fuse Thai flavors with smoking.

                Comment


                  #15
                  Awesome!

                  I just got back from a trip over there. Spent a week split between Bangkok, Ubon Ratchathani, and Amanat Charoen (small town farming country an hour north of Ubon).

                  it was for business, can’t wait to go back for a longer period and take my wife for vacation. I about choked when I read you paid for imported KJ charcoal, Thai charcoal is excellent. That’s actually what I was over there buying. PM me if you need some help sourcing good local stuff. I know some people in the industry.

                  glad you’re enjoying the KJ, I adore mine. You mentioned 3 tier divide and conquer, did you get the KJ III with the slo-roller insert? curious you hear opinions on that.

                  It’s been my experience that meat generally is crap outside US, Argentina, Australia etc. Thailand was no different, the duck I had was good though.

                  I did have a question for you though, do you trouble ordering street food? Everything seemed to be build it yourself cook to order and knowing zero Thai, I couldn’t communicate to get what I wanted at all.

                  Comment


                  • AZ Fogey
                    AZ Fogey commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The KJ III hasn't made it to Thailand yet, I've got the Classic II. Your comment on Thai street food made me laugh, and then it made me think. I haven't eaten street food for a long time, and when I did, I had my soon-to-be Thai wife choosing for us. It's very daunting figuring out what to order, and it's liable to be way more spicy than most non-Thais can tolerate. Fortunately it's very cheap so you can afford to waste some meals. Two words are life savers: "my pet", meaning not spicy.

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