Thai Instant Noodles
Mamais the colloquial phrase used to mean instant noodles. In fact, "Mama" is the name of maybe the most successful brand of instant noodle in Thailand, and has become such an institution here, that people say "Mama", even if they mean "Wai Wai" or "Quik" brand! - whatever the case, instant noodles are as common as Coca Cola here. I must admit that i spent the first few years here only tryuing the "Mama" brand, thinking that they must be the best, as they seemed so popular and well known. These days, i have different brands for different recipes that i like.If i want to eat white vermicelli (bamee sen Mee) in clear soup, then i go for the Mama brand, but if i wish to eat "Phad Chaa" ( a dry noodle, with chili and basil leaf, quite spicy), then i go for Wai Wai Noodles
Mama brand Thai instant chan clear soup - 10 packs
The importance of Instant Noodles in Southeast Asia
When flooding is rife, when people are stuck on an island because boats can't take the people off in the storm, when poverty strikes - so many situations depend on the existence of "Mama" noodles, as well as a few other not so important seeming, but equally necessary for survival items (such as "Pla Grapong - tinned mackerel). When no fresh food is available for whatever reason, instant noodles are distributed to the affected parties , along with of course fresh water, candles, lighters and tinned fish (Canned mackerel in tomatoe sauce), rice.I myself have experienced poverty here ( i lived for ten days with 300 baht once which is less than 10 dollars!). If there were no instant noodles, i could not have lived so cheaply. A packet of instant noodles here costs only 6 baht (written July 2008). so in principle if you aren't too fat (i am slim), you can live on 3 bowls a day, which adds up to 18 baht! Poor people in the country rely on these products to fill their bellies every day. if you have 2 dollars a day to live on then you aren't going to spend it on one mean in an "Aharn Dtam Sang" shop (food made to order street restaurant), where it will cost you anything from 20 to 50 baht, depending on how you order.
Apart from the Cultural and economical facets of the story of Instant noodles in Thailand, and the fact that they are so dirt cheap, it is also true to say that instant noodles are absolutely delicious! There are so many different flavours now, maybe 100 or more - and about 5 main brand names. In this article i shall try to cover all the pssible brands and flavours i can find over the next weeks - meaning that you must return to this post to see the new info i add as i go along (as i do with most posts actually.)
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Mama Clear soup Vermicelli! this has a real authentic texture to the noodle, they are almost the same as fresh noodles! the clear soup is a porky taste and apart from the stock powder provided, has garlic oil in the sachets inside the packet, which add a really fantastic tang to the taste of the soup. It also has some white pepper in the mixture, so be prepared for a peppery taste, but it isn't so hot that you break out in a sweat.This is one of my favourites when i am a bit low on power and feel a little ill, this clear soup really boosts my energy when i feel weak, and helps me to get my appetite back. Mama Sen Mee Nam sai(clear soup vermicelli) , is a meal that you can eat Instant noodles are quick and easy to make, and are perfect for that in-between-meal snack to keep you going until dinner time,. without leaving you so full that you can't eat later. The massive array of flavours and brands available boggles the mind, leaving one indecisive about which of them one should eat this time !
Phad Thai Thai Kitchen Noodle Cart, Pad Thai, 2.25-Ounces (Pack of 12)
Rice Noodles (Rice, Water), Seasoning Packet (Pure Cane Sugar, Tamarind, Soybean Sauce (Dried) [Water, Soybeans, Salt, Corn Starch, Maltodextrin], Shallot (Dried), Salt, Onion Flavor (Dried) [Onion, Soybean Oil], Silicon Dioxide [to Prevent Caking], Green Onions (Dried), Chili (Dried), Garlic (Dried), Paprika, Pepper, Oil Packet (Soybean Oi).
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Another of my favourite flavours is "Namtok" flavour. Namtok means "waterfall" in Thai, but actually is used to refer to noodle recipe, and also a grilled meat recipe from Isan country (Northeast). "Namtok" noodles, if freshly made, get some fresh blood poured into the soup at he end to lend a brownish colour to the soup, and add an amazingly tangy flavour to the dish. In the West, some people have an aversion to blood, but actually it gets cooked in the first seconds that it is poured into the boiling soup, and has a fantastic flavor and aroma! The instant Namtok noodle variety has an amazingly similar taste to the authentic fresh variety. If you have some mint leaves at home then you can garnish the soup with a couple of leaves, this will add a wonderful aroma to the soup, and increase the authenticity of the flavor. I often buy the "look chin" (fish or meatballs) and add them to the soup to make it a bit more "beefed up" - just adding on ore two of your favourite ingrediants makes the soup so much more luxurious. you can add a spoon of mincemeat or some fine shreds of chicken whatever you like, a few shrimps in the tom yam kung makes the dish come to life. But even if you just go for the purist way and eat them as they are, they are delicious.