“IF YOU want to eat healthy, you can’t go wrong with Thai food,” said Thai chef Chariya Thaikupt, who recently demonstrated a medley of Thai fare before a bunch of food enthusiasts at Happy Garden Café, Sunshine Place, Jupiter Street, Makati City.
Thaikupt showed easy steps to cook traditional Phad Thai, Papaya Salad, Sizzling Bagoong Rice and Thako (Thai rice pudding served in banana leaf squares). Each dish was effortlessly prepared in less than 10 minutes, with cooking time ranging from 20-30 minutes.
These recipes, Thaikupt added, are not only delicious and flavorful, they are also fuss-free dishes that people can readily serve without having to spend eternity in the kitchen.
“In Thai cuisine, a little stir-fry and mixing here and there, with the combination of fresh ingredients, will help bring out the real flavor of a Thai dish. It’s also not true that food that isn’t extremely spicy isn’t real Thai food. Some Thai dishes are really not spicy,” explained Thaikupt, who’s been living in the Philippines for 10 years and has two well-established Thai restaurants —Chariya’s Thai Kitchen in Divisoria and Makati.
She also teaches at Center for Asian Culinary Studies and is head chef of Bizu Groupe’s Thaicoon restaurant.
First of a series
The Thai food demo was the first in a series of cooking lessons organized by Happy Garden Café, run by Annie Lichaytoo Tanco of the Bizu Groupe. The newly opened café serves healthy, organic food. The café is housed in a center for seniors—a recreation venue to help encourage social interaction and wellness among them.
“The café certainly complements the seniors club’s objective to promote a happy, healthy lifestyle living,” Tanco said. “The café, of course, is for everybody regardless of age. It’s a concept I thought of for people who need a place to relax and feel good about themselves, especially when they eat natural and healthy food.”
Tanco calls her food as “good for body and soul.” One of the most interesting dishes is cauliflower rice. Instead of grains, she makes finely chopped cauliflower to look like rice, which is then sauteed to precise firmness. You can choose whatever toppings you want—adobo, fish fillet or Korean beef.
“It’s like rice, but it’s vegetable,” she said. “We also have brown rice.”
Salads with Asian flavor are aplenty, the watermelon salad and tofu salad among the popular ones. The homemade pizza, cooked in brick oven and hand-tossed, uses Italian Caputo flour, which is free of any additives. Bestsellers are the Truffle Mushroom Pizza and Chorizo and Egg Pizza.
Other Thai-inspired dishes include prawn cake and soft-shell crabs. The freshly blended juices come in different colors—green, red, yellow and orange. Desserts, meanwhile, are gluten-free—sans rival, chocolate cake, carrot cake, macaron de Paris, etc.
“We make it a point to serve healthy meals in the café, but we also want our guests to serve healthy dishes to their families at home by teaching them how to cook. It’s been my advocacy to share and give back to my guests. It’s a big place and a perfect venue to hold classes. We started with Thai food because it’s very healthy. The papaya salad, for instance, gives good bacteria that helps aid our digestive system,” said Tanco.
Authentic Phad Thai
(Prep time: 6 minutes; cooking time: 20 minutes)
15 ml vegetable oil
5 g white onion, minced
5 g Thai fermented radish
5 g Thai dried shrimp
100 g Thai hafan noodles
60 ml water
60 ml phad Thai sauce
4 g chili paste
1 g chili powder
1 pc egg
50 g bean sprout
5 g chives
5 g fried tokwa
5 g peanut (ground)
1 pc wansoy
Phad Thai sauce:
350 ml tamarind juice
500 g Thai palm sugar
170 ml Thai patis
Combine all ingredients and allow to boil in low heat until sugar dissolves and sauce becomes a bit thick. Remove scum that forms on the surface. Allow to cool. Store properly until ready to use.
Phad Thai: Saute onion and radish in oil. Add dried shrimp. Add noodles and water. Cook until noodles become soft and water evaporate a little. Add phad Thai sauce, chili paste and chili powder. Toss to coat noodles with sauce.
Place noodles on one side of pan, then place oil and egg on the other side. Let egg set while cooking. Flip noodle on the side to top the egg. Add bean sprouts, tokwa and chives on top of the noodles. Transfer to sizzling plate. Garnish with peanuts and wansoy. Serve hot.
Thai Papaya Salad
15 g peanut, roasted and ground
30 g string beans
5 g garlic, chopped
5 g Thai dried shrimp
100 g carrots, thinly sliced
50 g tomato, chopped
100 g green papaya, thinly sliced
1 pc siling labuyo
30 ml papaya dressing
15 g chicharon
2 pc wansoy
Papaya salad dressing:
500 ml calamansi juice
250 g Thai palm sugar
250 ml Thai patis
Papaya salad dressing: Mix all ingredients until palm sugar dissolves. Store properly until ready to use.
Papaya salad: Place half of peanut, string beans, garlic, half of dried shrimps, carrots, tomato, sili, tomato and green papaya in mortar. Pound with pestle until veggies are mixed and juices start to form. Pour papaya dressing and toss the salad. Transfer into serving plate. Garnish with dried shrimp, chicharon, wansoy sprig and peanut.