Easy, crowd­pleas­ing Thai

Ottawa Business Journal - Ottawa at Home - - FOOD LET’S DISH - Writ­ten by PAULA ROY Pho­tog­ra­phy by MARK HOLLERON

Ot­tawa’s Kit E is leg­endary for her hos­pi­tal­ity and gen­eros­ity. A na­tive of Thai­land, she is a wife, mother, marathon run­ner and fabulous home cook, who reg­u­larly whips up Pad Thai and other tra­di­tional dishes for neigh­bours, family, friends and some­times even strangers. Kit is humble about her im­pres­sive cook­ing abil­i­ties, but will­ingly shared some tips on how the rest of us can serve tasty, healthy, home­made Thai food.

How important is food in the cul­ture and life­style of Thai­land?

Food and its pre­sen­ta­tion are at the heart of ev­ery­thing, ev­ery day. Whether you are so­cial­iz­ing with family, en­ter­tain­ing friends or con­duct­ing a busi­ness trans­ac­tion, ev­ery rit­ual of life in Thai­land in­volves food and the dishes look as beau­ti­ful as they are de­li­cious.

Why do you think Thai food is be­com­ing so pop­u­lar?

Thai food is per­fect for feed­ing a crowd be­cause it’s in­ex­pen­sive, easy to make, fresh and flavour­ful. Best of all, you can stock most of the in­gre­di­ents in your pantry so you can pre­pare it on short no­tice, which is important to Thai peo­ple be­cause our gath­er­ings are of­ten very spon­ta­neous.

What are some of your favourite dishes to pre­pare?

For guests, I en­joy mak­ing Tom-yum Koong which is a hot and sour prawn soup, as well as Kuay-teow Phad Thai Koong Sod, which is Pad Thai with prawns.

Can you share some short­cuts to make serv­ing Thai food even eas­ier?

In­stead of cook­ing from scratch, buy Pad Thai sauce and Tom-yum soup base in Chi­na­town, both of which have a long shelf life and taste re­ally good. Look for chopped lemon­grass, which can be frozen, and pack­ets of Knorr tamarind soup base – you can sprin­kle this into your dishes, to taste, in­stead of tamarind con­cen­trate. Also, since the rice noo­dles need to be soft­ened be­fore mak­ing Pad Thai, I of­ten soak a large quan­tity at the be­gin­ning of the week, then drain and keep in a bag in the fridge, pulling out what I need for each batch.

What are a few serv­ing and decor tips for a more au­then­tic Thai meal?

Use your best table­ware and have in­di­vid­ual tiny flower ar­range­ments at each place set­ting. It is tra­di­tional to serve at the ta­ble. Put the soup in a large bowl or tureen and the Pad Thai on a large plat­ter; bring both to the ta­ble at the same time. Thai meals are not eaten with chop­sticks; use a spoon and fork in­stead. Gewurz­traminer is the ideal wine pair­ing and clas­si­cal mu­sic play­ing softly in the back­ground would be very typ­i­cal. For dessert, a fresh fruit salad in­clud­ing mango is per­fect. It is also very tra­di­tional to send any left­overs home with your guests.

Pad Thai with Prawns.

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