Samui Wining & Dining
Do It Yourself!

Flavours of Issan from Chaweng’s Khaoneaw restaurant.


Do It Yourself!If you’ve been on Samui for a while then you’ll know what I mean. Most people come here for the sunshine and the food. And although the sun’s the same all over the island, the food isn’t! But here’s the problem. Many visitors find Thai food too spicy. And just as many restaurants will automatically ‘tone down’ their fare for foreign customers. Thus if you like your food authentic and hot you may be disappointed. So what can you do if you’re hooked on the real thing? Where can you go to enjoy the authentic taste of Thailand?


There are hundreds of local restaurants to choose from here. But not all have their menus in English as well as Thai. And maybe you’re not too sure quite what all the dishes are. Will there be somebody that can explain them to you? And is the food really fresh? These are the problems with adventuring off the beaten track.


And this is where Khaoneaw restaurant comes in. It’s easy to find, being on the ring-road just outside of Chaweng, about half-way between Makro and Big C and on the same side of the road. There’s easy-parking, everything’s fresh each day and Khun Jeab, the owner, spent a year living in Australia and speaks great English. And, not only that, the cuisine features all the well-known traditional dishes but highlights offerings from Thailand’s north-eastern region of Issan.


The flavours in Issan tend to be spicy and tangy and full-flavoured, and with many items you won’t find elsewhere. It’s quite an art to put them together. But, just for Samui Wining & Dining, Khun Jeab has picked out something special. You probably won’t find Issan fare at many dinner parties back home. So, have one yourself you can make an impression with your Thai-Issan expertise. And, whilst you’re here, you can drop in to Khaoneaw and see what else is on offer – you might come away with more recipes!


Som Tam with Apple and Prawns

(Note: you’ll need a mortar and pestle for this dish.)


Som Tam, sometimes known as papaya salad and colloquially often nicknamed ‘papaya pok-pok’ is one of the staples of the Issan diet. (The term ‘pok-pok’ stems from the characteristic sound made by the stone mortar and pestle used to pound the ingredients together.) It’s usually made with peeled green papaya but apples are often used as a substitute. And, although not ‘authentic’, you can experiment with the overall sweet/sour balance by adjusting the amount of lemon or even using sweeter apples instead.



½ diced green apple

2 diced tomatoes

4 fresh shrimps

5 small red chilies – according to taste

1 lemon

1 tbsp dried shrimps

1 tbsp peanuts

1 tbsp palm sugar

2 tsp fish sauce

2 segments of garlic – according to taste



Crush the chilies and garlic together, pounding thoroughly until the mixture forms a paste. Crush the lemon and add the juice into the palm sugar and stir to a paste. Then mix the two pastes together. Add the diced tomatoes, the diced apple and the fresh shrimps to this. And then taste it! Adjust the spiciness and the sourness to your preference by adding coconut milk (or removing some of the chili seeds) or adding more palm sugar. This is one of the features of Thai cuisine; each cook makes it a slightly different way and it’s quite usual to come across different ‘compositions’.

Place in a serving dish and top with the crushed dried shrimps and peanuts.



Roti Laab Moo Woon-sen


At first sight, this looks very much like the familiar offering of spring rolls. But the wrapping isn’t crispy pastry, it’s roti. And the filling is based on glass noodles rather than bean sprouts. Laab is the traditional dish of Laos, being a ground meat (usually beef or pork) that’s locally eaten with a high chili count! This recipe is for pork (moo) but will succeed with any minced meat. The region of Issan borders onto the neighbouring country of Laos and many of the Laotian cultural traditions, language and food have been absorbed across the border. This is a mildly-spiced alternative to the usual spring rolls and is sure to be a talking point when you serve it to your guests.



2 roti

2 slices of lemon

2 chopped spring onions

1 bunch chopped coriander leaves

2 sprigs mint

5 gms crushed peanuts

30 gms minced pork

50 gms glass noodles

1 tbsp chopped red onion

1 tbsp ground dry chilies

1 tbsp ground rice

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp corn oil

1 tsp sweet chili sauce



Heat the corn oil in a pan or wok to a medium-high temperature. Add the glass noodles and minced pork, and stir for 1 minute. Add the juice from the lemon, the fish sauce and the coriander leaves, the ground rice and ground chilies. Stir and cook until the noodles are soft.

Wrap this in a roti, as if it were a spring roll. Fry in hot oil until a golden brown.

Serve by chopping into short lengths and top with the sweet chili sauce and crushed peanuts. Add the mint alongside as decoration.


Present everything in true Thai-style by placing all the items on the centre of the table along with one bowl of steamed white rice. Allow your guests to pick and mix their own quantities of rice with the other dishes as and when they chose.




Rob De Wet


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