The Thai plate: What is the real taste of Thailand?
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be talking to four food lovers and connoisseurs from Jamaica, Thailand, Italy and Costa Rica to find out what makes their cuisine worth travelling the world for. To talk us through the true essence of Thai food, is Cindy Passorn who has been bringing traditional Thai food to the UK since 2009.
Hi Cindy, where did your passion for Thai food come from?
I was born in Bangkok and grew up around my parent’s catering business, which they have been running for over 40 years.
I first came to the UK to do my Master’s degree in Marketing Management, but then I started to noticed there were a lot of Thai places closing down in the area and it made me question what I was doing. I loved cooking and was so passionate about food. I had to take the leap. I took a big risk and set out to to recreate my family’s recipes using authentic Thai ingredients. Passorn (which means angel in Thai) opened it’s doors in 2009.
What is your take on the cuisine?
Our dishes are unique, they’re meals that I’ve either created at home or that have been in my family for generations, so you won’t find them anywhere else. We also import fresh ingredients from Thailand every week, which is an expensive business but absolutely necessary to get the authentic taste we want.
How would you describe a traditional Thai flavour?
Thai food has a real kick to it. It should be full of flavour with a lot of herbs and a mixture between hot and sour and always fresh. It shouldn’t be greasy or oily.
It’s frustrating sometimes because people go to Thailand and try fiery, spicy dishes and come back to the UK, and experience really bland Thai food that lacks the layered flavour you should get.
Why do you think that is?
A lot of it has to do with the skill of the chefs, because there aren’t many experienced Thai chefs in the UK. Great thai food is also expensive to produce. People think Thai food is cheap, but it isn’t at all. Cheaper dishes will be heavy on the coconut milk and maybe miss out on some of the more delicate spices.
What does home taste like?
One of my favourite dishes is ‘Stir-Fried Glass Noodles’. I eat that all the time at home. You wont find much of them in the UK. It’s a very dry dish and can be difficult to eat so it’s not very popular for the British market. I also love ‘Crispy-Skinned Pork’ , its as delicious as it sounds.
What would be your signature dish?
Our most popular dish is ‘Crispy Sea bass.’ It’s made with fresh chilies, spring onions and our own tamarind sauce. Everyone that’s had it has said they loved it. It’s spot on for me. It’s so healthy and fresh so you can eat it in any season in the year.
What foods would you recommend visitors of Thailand try?
In the UK, the most popular dishes are Pad Thai, Thai Green Curry and Massaman Curry, but believe it or not, Thai people don’t really eat curry- it’s too hot. It’s a really humid country so a creamy, thick curry is their last choice. Thai people would rather grill something fresh and light, like fish or chicken.
Give ‘Stir-fired Glass Noodles’ a go with Cindy’s recipe:
INGREDIENTS (Serves two)
40g glass noodles, dry
170g chicken or other protein, marinate in 1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce while you prep other ingredients
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
½ Tbsp soy sauce
½ Tbsp Golden Mountain Sauce or Maggi
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ small onion, julienned
1 cup cabbage, bite-sized
1/3 cup carrots, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
5 tsp sugar
¼ tsp ground white pepper
1 tomatoes, wedges, seeds removed
1-2 green onions, green part only, 1/2-inch pieces on a bias
Soak the glass noodles in room temperature water for 10 minutes until soft and pliable. Drain, then cut the noodles with scissors to shorten them.
Mix together oyster sauce, soy sauce, Golden Mountain Sauce in a small bowl.
Heat oil in a wok or a large pan, when hot, add garlic and onions and cook until garlic starts to turn brown. Add chicken, and cook just until the pieces are well separated. Push everything in the pan to one side, add a little more oil in the empty space, and add eggs. Let the eggs set about half way, then scramble and mix with the chicken. When eggs are done, add cabbage, carrots, and half a tablespoon of the sauce mixture; toss quickly just to mix. Add noodles, followed by the sauce, sugar, and white pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the noodles are done and have absorbed all the sauce.
Add tomatoes and green onions, toss just to heat through for 10-15 seconds. Remove from heat and plate.
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