Before sunrise every morning, thousands of markets begin their trade all over Thailand. Going to the local market is far removed from strolling the air conditioned supermarket aisles flooded with artificial light. At the wet market there is a much more organic, honest and direct relationship with the food. The alluring fragrance of a flower stand selling intricately made garlands, the vibrant hues of mounds of curry pastes, walking past live fish flapping about, freshly steamed mackerel in small baskets piled high, stepping into a puddle of grey water, the burnt smell of hairs being singed off pigs trotters, the song of vendors singing out their special prices. All of these encounters make a trip to the market, something much more meaningful and such a satisfying and enriching experience.
VEGETABLES / ผัก
An extensive array of vegetables can be bought at the market, depending on seasonal variations. One advantage of shopping at a wet market is that there are unusual vegetables that cannot be found at supermarkets, such as; lotus stems, tamarind leaves, fresh bamboo shots and heart of palm.
FRUITS / ผลไม้
Tropical fruits are unique in texture and taste, always buy fruits that are in season as the quality and flavour is far superior. To obtain the best quality produce visit the market very early in the morning. Also choose fruits that are produced locally, as they would have travelled a short distance to get to the market and therefore be at the very peak of perfection.
MEAT / เนื้อสัตว์
Standard types of fresh meat such as pork, chicken and beef can be found at any inner city market. However for those that venture into the small provincial markets, a larger variety of local delicacies can be found such as; quail, deer, wild boar, frogs and even rice paddy rats.
SEAFOOD / อาหารทะเล
An extensive range of the freshest seafood can be found at seaside markets, straight out of the fishing boats. However at inner city markets most of the seafood is relatively fresh as they are sold on a day to day basis. Even inland areas, freshwater fish, most times are still alive at the market and swiftly dispatched right in front of the customer.
CURRY PASTES / เครื่องแกง
Most Thais do not make their own curry pastes at home as the ones at the market are of good quality and are also at a reasonable price. Bare in mind that curry pastes at the market are mass produced and are not pounded by hand. To determine how much curry paste one needs, simple let the vendor know the weight of the meat that will be used.
DRIED GOODS / สินค้าแห้ง
Dried items always has a place in every market, from dried seafood, spices, mushrooms and dried leaves for wrapping food. Some dried items can simply be soaked in water to reguvinate and used in various dishes. Only buy a small amount at a time and store in a airtight container away from light.
PICKLED / ของดอง
Various ingredients simply pickled in salt, or submerged in large glass jars with vinegar. Wash the pickled items in several changes of water before use, however it is also relatively simple to produce your own pickled items at home when produce is abundent.
RICE / ข้าว
The rice vendor with many sacks of rice of different ages and from various regions for various uses. Buy a small amount at a time, if kept at room temperature, as the bran ages the rice takes on a musty odour, or alternatively keep rice in the fridge to slow down this process.
FLOWERS / ดอกไม้
A welcomed addition to the market, Thais buy intricate garlands as offerings to monks and to give to the elderly as a sign of respect. Garlands can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge to keep its fragrance and freshness.