Balanced, Fresh, fragrant and beautifully — Thai food was made for sharing with this celebrate Thailand’s new year head chef blissful banquet from Saba’s
Thursday saw the beginning of the Songkran celebration — also known as Thai New Year — which marks the start of the new solar year and the summer season.
It is rich with symbolic traditions. Mornings begin with visiting local temples and offering food and alms to the Buddhist monks. Pouring water on Buddha statues, to represent purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck, is an iconic ritual for this holiday. As a way to show respect, children and younger people also often pour water over the palms of elders’ hands.
The holiday is known for its water festival, which is mostly celebrated by young people. Major city streets in Thailand are closed to traffic for three days of water fights — a welcome reprieve from temperatures that can reach over 35°C at this time of year.
The base rules are: water must be clean and cool or cold, but no ice cubes. Super soakers are allowed but high-pressure hoses are not.
As it’s a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to share it with their loved ones and elders. This tradition inspired the Thai New Year menu at Saba — which has restaurants on Dublin’s Clarendon Street and Baggot Street, as well as Saba To Go outlets in Rathmines, Windy Arbour and Deansgrange.
Head chef Taweesak ‘Tao’ Trakoolwattana has created a special Songkran menu where all of the dishes are prepared to share in family style.
To start, there is coconut soup, fish cakes and som tam papaya salad. That’s followed by stir-fried fillet of beef, stir-fried curried crab claws, lamb massaman curry and blue river prawns with garlic. Dessert is fresh mango, steamed sticky rice and coconut milk.
You can join the celebration at home by trying your hand at some of Tao’s dishes — see the recipes opposite and overleaf.
Alternatively, the sharing menu, for parties of four priced at €38.95 per person, is available until Monday at all Saba outlets. For more information, see sabadublin.com
Sawadee pee mai — happy new year! IRISH INDEPENDENT Serves 4 as a starter
80g lemongrass, chopped 80g galangal, sliced 50g shallots, chopped 4 kaffir lime leaves, torn 4 bird’s eye chillies, crushed
tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 3 dssp fish sauce ( nam pla) 4 dssp lime juice 300g chicken fillets, thinly sliced 150g oyster mushrooms, torn 10g fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
10ml chilli oil, to garnish 1.