The Northwest has a special spice with a very special name, which is a good thing. The teppal epithet is the first Northwest cuisine, making the food here has a unique taste.
Belonging to star anise family, this oily and aromatic spice has become legendary in the Northwest cuisine and an indispensable spice in the rice tray of the people here.
The plant blooms in late spring and the very first fruits appear in the shape of coriander clusters.
1. This seed’s background information
Coming to the North West in November, you will smell the extremely pleasant aroma of mac khen. As a matter of fact, the more you inhale, the more fragrant you can feel, which is supposed to make you take deep breaths endlessly.
After being broken down, this tree’s branches are wrapped up on each beam and dried on the porch or hung in the kitchen. At that time, this “omnipotent” spice unhurriedly waits for the day they catalyst for gorgeous eats.
2. Why it is the must-try specialty
Almost in all of Thai’s meals, especially the important ones are not impossibly devoid of mac khen. Fruits from the trees are picked, dried, purified and roasted on a hot pan, then crushed into powder. Another witty way to process these grains is using a small bowl, some seeds a hot charcoal piece and… let the heat do the work! When the fragrant odor evaporates across the room, folks pick up the coal, softly blow out all dirty stuff like ash or remaining tiny twigs and use the handle of the knife to pound them up.
However, to make a miraculous condiment specialized to serve with glutinous rice, there are many complicated steps to go. Thai people often roast dried seedless chili salted roasted coriander and saw-teeth coriander, all pounded into fine powder. The final mixture is the combination of salted dry apricot’s flavors and somewhat forest’s taste that words fail to express comprehensively.
The tappel is used as a flawless condiment served with glutinous rice sticky rice, harvested from the field of Tu Le at the foot of the Khau Phia pass. There surely is no paste can surpass.
This special spice also makes wild meat become more delicious for it gets rid of the fishy smell by adding the fragrant pleasant odor. Northwesterners often use mac khen in grilled dishes and upstair kitchen hung buffalo. Northwesterners say that it is “trash-worthy” grilled food/ meat without mac khen – the soul of mountainous cuisine. Meat is marinated with mac khen and other spices for hours before baking or “hanging”. Due to the heat of hot charcoal, mac khen is absorbed into every single nanometer of the flesh.
Every Thai dish from vegetables, meat to sticky rice need just a pinch of mac khen to strengthen the already-delicious eats. Each piece of green fresh vegetables, fresh meat, or each piece of soft glutinous rice are best suited with the spicy fragrant condiment.