LocationChiang Mai District
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Ram Juen is the queen of jok (rice soup). Her mother started the business more than fifty years ago, and now Ram Juen and her husband, Mr. Sawad, work together. He does the shopping and the prep; she cooks and serves from six-thirty to ten-thirty in the morning, and from five-thirty to ten-thirty at night. Pork jok is her masterpiece. It starts with a generous wad of ginger strands at the bottom of a large ceramic bowl, onto which she sprinkles minced scallion, a pinch of MSG (you can ask her to skip it), and dashes of fish sauce and soy sauce. She keeps a pot of thick and creamy jok heating over a gas flame, and a huge, tall pot of pork broth—the key to the wonderfulness of the jok—simmering beside it.
Naomi Duguid is a writer, photographer, and the author of many international cookbooks, including Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through South-East Asia.