Sun-grilled chicken ‘more ten­der, evenly-cooked’

New Straits Times - - World -

PHETCHABURI: Not many chefs don a weld­ing mask be­fore they en­ter the kitchen, but Sila Sutharat prefers to cook his chicken sunny side up.

The 60-year-old road­side ven­dor has found an in­ge­nious way to of­fer his cus­tomers some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent by har­ness­ing the power of the sun.

Us­ing a large wall of nearly 1,000 move­able mir­rors — a de­vice he de­signed and built him­self — he fo­cuses the sun’s rays onto a row of mar­i­nated chick­ens, siz­zling away un­der the in­tense heat.

His un­usual culi­nary meth­ods raised a few eye­brows when he first hit upon the idea.

“They said that I’d gone mad, that cook­ing chicken like this was im­pos­si­ble,” he said next to his stall, the row of sun-drenched chick­ens be­hind him too bright to look at for any length of time.

“Af­ter awhile, they said: ‘Ac­tu­ally, you could do it’.”

That’s be­cause the so­lar re­flec­tor gen­er­ates in­tense heat, eas­ily enough to match an oven, with a sun­shine-baked chicken tak­ing just 12 min­utes to cook through.

For much of the last 20 years, Sila grilled in rel­a­tive ob­scu­rity for a fairly lo­cal crowd.

But, af­ter videos of his so­lar­cooker went vi­ral, peo­ple from across Thai­land have flocked to his stall here.

Sila said the idea came to him in 1997 when he was struck by the heat re­flect­ing off a pass­ing bus.

“I thought, with this heat re­flect­ing from the win­dow from the sun, I could pos­si­bly change it into en­ergy.”

He said com­pared with a tra­di­tional char­coal grill, which he used be­fore his so­lar epiphany, his meat was more ten­der and

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