Easy, crowdpleasing Thai
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.