Fun Fact: Tesakarn Gin Je
Sawaddee torn chao (good morning) everyone!
It’s this time of the year again when there’s yellow little flags with red Thai (or sometimes Chinese) word all over the town.
Especially if you’ve already checked out Chinatown (Yaowarat Rd.), you see the flag here and there along the street.
And most of the restaurants there have it.
The red characters on the flag, เจ in Thai (pronounced “je/jay”) stand for a restriction of this festival.
Jay Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ, pronounced Tesakarn Gin Je) is celebrated among Chinese families as part of Nine Emperor Gods Festival. Therefore, it’s a nine-day-long occasion starting after the new moon day of the ninth month in Chinese lunar calendar, which is from Oct 13-21 for this year.
And if you already know the word กิน (pronounced gin with the ‘g’ sound as in ‘girl’) which is Thai for eat, it’s not hard to guess the meaning of เทศกาล (pronounced “tesakarn”)–festival.
Sorry carnivores–though depending on the strictness of individuals, the core practice in this period is basically to abstain from eating any animal-involved product.
But no, it’s not the same as vegan.
On top of meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and products like honey, the rules also restrict the consumption of five kinds of pungent vegetables including garlic, onion, chive, tobacco and Chinese onion.
People who take it seriously also dress in white and keeping themselves clean, physically, mentally and verbally throughout the festival.
Popular in the festival is Chinese-style veggie dishes and here are some of the highlights:
Typically found on streetsides, veggie nuggets are deep-fried dumplings made from a mixture of batter with corn, taro or daikon and usually served with chopped peanuts and sweet chili sauce. Stalls that sell veggie nuggets are also likely to sell veggie spring rolls and deep-fried tofu. And these can be pretty cheap. Average prices are about two to four nuggets for ten baht.
While we normally eat bao buns that are stuffed with minced pork, roasted pork and custard cream, some salapao (how we call bao buns) shops take this opportunity to make vegetarian options. Basic stuffings include a mix of seasoned, stir-fried vegetables, mushrooms and beans while some shops might use soy protein to make vegetarian versions of pork-filled buns.
Veggie stir-fried noodles
The so-called pad mee jay (ผัดหมี่เจ) is another staple for the fest. It normally contains egg-free noodles, stir-fried with vegetables, tofu and mushroom. Sounding simple but tasting complex, the dish can be varied by each restaurant’s recipe.
Hot Spots for the fest are Yaowarat Rd. and Talad Noi area. Feel free to hit the street and experience the feast!