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Spice up your life th he Thai way; Emma Pinch has her taste buds excited by the new Thai restaurant in Liverpool One.

Byline: Emma Pinch

IT'S healthy, light, packed with flavour and reassuringly exotic. Demand for good Thai food has largely outstripped supply on Merseyside, with Thai restaurants never becoming as ubiquitous as their High Street Chinese counterparts.

But with Thai food now becoming widely available - the highly-rated Chaophraya restaurant opened in Liver pool One yesterday - people want to try their hand at dishes from South East Asia that are more healthy and authentic than chicken with sweet and sour sauce from a jar.

Chef Thanyanan Phuaknapo - nicknamed Pum -runs Thai cookery workshops at Chaophraya in Manchester. She'll soon start classes at the Liverpool restaurant, too.

"Thai food has got more popular and people want to know how to cook it at home," she explains. "The special thing about Thai cooking is that we use fresh ingredients, rather than dried. It's not as oily as Chinese food, as they like their food to look shiny.

Because it's so hot, we don't need anything oily." Green or red curry paste should be store cupboard staples, says Pum. She recommends Nittaya brand. A great supplier of Thai food, she says, is based in Prenton - Premium Thai Produce Ltd, or Raanthai (tel 0844 414 2311, North Cheshire Trading Estate, Prenton).

While the fresh pastes are excellent, pounding the herbs and spices yourself is more authentically Thai.

"You can use paste but in Thailand we like to pound the ingredients together with a pestle and mortar," says Pum. "It should take about an hour. You cover the bowl with your hand and just bang the ingredients.

You don't get the essential oil out of the skin so well using a blender." Kang Pa, jungle curry, is less ubiquitous than green or red, but just as tasty. It isn't mixed with coconut milk. The end result is sweet and hot.

"In history, it was what you used in the jungle when you were hot and needed something hotter to eat. You wouldn't have had coconut milk but you would cut some vegetables and kill an animal. You put what you found into the pot, with water and some sugar cane." Tom Yam - meaning clear soup - is another favourite. The paste is available in supermarkets, but making your own is easy.

"The stock is made from boiling a chicken bone in water, nothing more than that," says Pum. "Add any chicken or prawns you have, put in the lemon grass, lime leaf, chilli and galangal, leave that to boil. Then you season with fish sauce and a little bit of sugar." She suggests adding any "non-juicy" vegetable, like cauliflower.

Sometimes the spice ingredients are used whole. As a sandwich-style dish, pickled plums, pickled ginger, lemon grass, galangal and soy sauce go on top of a piece of fish which are then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Banana leaves are used instead of clingfilm - better, says Pum, because they impart another flavour of their own.

Dishes vary enormously across Thailand, according to local ingr edients.

In the North, away from the sea, spicy pork or beef sausage tend to be very popular.

Very hot dishes tend to come from Southern Thailand, often seafoodbased.

"Where I come from, we'll chew a chilli along with our meal as a side dish if it's not hot enough." A favourite dish is tamarind curry, which is very easy to make.

"You take lime leaf, galangal, tamarind, sugar and salt and put them in a pot with chicken stock, vegetables and fish. You just cook it until the water is boiling, only a couple of minutes." The sweet Pad Thai, which means rice noodles, is popular in central parts of Thailand.

Says Pum: "If you have the ingredients, Thai food is simple to prepare, healthy and very tasty." CHAOPHRAYA, Liverpool One, 5/6 Kenyon's Steps, Liverpool (tel: 0151 707 6323),

Cupboard love HOW cute is this picnic bench styled condiment set? Best of all, it's filled with all the various bottles and shakers you will need for basic seasoning! Perfect for barbecues, it will sit on your full-size picnic bench as people gather round it with their burgers and sausages. Get one from, priced pounds 14.96.

"I AIN'T washin' no dishes, fool!", but now you can with this special tea towel.

The ideal thing for ATeam fans who love nothing more than to keep their dishes sparkling.

Get yours from, priced pounds 7.50.

LA MAISON du Chocolat's Tamanaco chocolate coffret would make an ideal Father's Day present for dads who love the dark stuff.

It contains five varieties of pure ganache made with the finest cocoa beans. Or you could just buy them for yourself.

Priced pounds 39 (

Store-cupboard essentials

GALANGAL (KHA) - Looks like a ginger root without the rough, woody surface, right. However, it has a delicate, citrusy, earthy aroma, with hints of pine and perfume.

TAMARIND - The pulp of the tamarind pod is packed into squishy bricks and looks like dried figs or dates, but has a sharp sour/sweet taste.

LIME LEAVES (BAI-MAKRUT) - From the Kaffir lime, they are dark green, glossy with a distinctive hour glass shape. They are shredded and added for their aromatic, astringent flavour.

LEMON GRASS (TA-KRAI) - Look like pale spring onions with a woodier stalk. Use the bottom seven or eight centimetres and pound it in a pestle and mortar to release its aromatic oil or boil in water for 10 minutes to make a medicinal tea.

PALM SUGAR (NAHM DTAHN BPEEP) - Made from the sweet, watery sap of the buds of the sugar palm. Formed into golden semi-solid pats, it is slightly fudge-like. Balances out the salty flavour of the fish.

FISH SAUCE (NAM PLA) - Derived from fermented fish and used in place of soy sauce..

A favourite Thai recipe

Pad Ma Kam (Prawn Pad Thai) serves 2 SOAK 100g of rice noodles in water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok and when hot add a tablespoon of sliced red onion, a tablespoon of chopped turnip, 10 prawns and an egg.

Add the noodles, tossing over a high heat, add 2 tablespoon of water, and stir until the noodles are soft.

Season with two tablespoons of tamarind sauce, one tablespoon of fish sauce, three teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of chilli sauce.

Stir together then add 10 dried shrimps, 1 tablespoon of chopped tofu, 50g beansprout, 50g of carrot cut into matchsticks, and one chopped spring onion and quickly toss..

Serve with garnishes of fresh coriander, crushed unsalted peanuts, slivers of red chilli and a quarter of fresh lime..


Thanyanan Phuaknaop (aka Pum) one of the chefs at Chaophraya, at Liverpool One
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Jun 9, 2009
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