HOME­TOWN HEIRLOOMS

Ex­ec­u­tive chef Chimkit ‘Lisa’ Kham­phuang of Patara Fine Thai Cui­sine takes Priyanka El­hence through some of her favourite chilli-laden dishes.

Epicure (Indonesia) - - CONTENTS -

Chimkit ‘Lisa’ Kham­phuang of Patara Fine Thai Cui­sine

Nes­tled in Tan­glin Mall is pop­u­lar Thai restau­rant, Patara Fine Thai Cui­sine. What’s lesser known is that the restau­rant has been led by ex­ec­u­tive chef Chimkit ‘Lisa’ Kham­phuang for the last 19 years. Kham­phuang, who hails from Ya­sothorn Prov­ince in north­ern Thai­land, is fa­mous for her in­ven­tive spins on re­gional Thai dishes.

Kham­phuang’s culi­nary ca­reer took off when she left her home­town at 14 to work as a cook at Patara Bangkok, con­sid­ered to be a very pres­ti­gious po­si­tion at that time. Af­ter 10 years in Bangkok, she was trans­ferred to the Sin­ga­pore out­let to in­tro­duce Thai cui­sine to the city.

In­ci­den­tally, Kham­puang’s sis­ter was also a cook at Patara Bangkok and has since started a restau­rant in Phuket. “We had our own farm at home, and it was a fam­ily tra­di­tion to slaugh­ter a live duck for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. My par­ents man­aged the farm, so that’s when my in­ter­est in food de­vel­oped. I miss my fam­ily’s larb pad duck salad, and it’s a dish I must have each time I re­turn home,” she says.

Un­der her mother’s watch­ful eye, eight-yearold Kham­puang started pre­par­ing the fam­ily din­ners by learning how to pre­pare sticky rice, while her mother would pre­pare the other dishes. A sim­ple but tra­di­tional home-cooked meal con­sisted of omelette, sticky rice and grilled fish, ac­com­pa­nied with the sig­na­ture chilli dip, nam prik pla ra. The fiery chilli sauce of the north­east uses a spe­cial type of pla ra (fer­mented fish sauce), which is pounded to­gether with fer­mented shrimp, chill­ies, lime juice and sugar. “Peo­ple from my home­town like ev­ery­thing spicy and hence chilli dip was a ba­sic re­quire­ment with ev­ery meal. That’s also why the lod chong tad thai ‘Thai Chen­dol’ is one of my favourite child­hood dishes, as it would help put out the fire from eat­ing fiery fare like gang gai si fag, a spicy chicken soup with win­ter­melon. Thai­land’s can­taloupes are of­ten softer and sweeter than those sold in Sin­ga­pore, so the Thai chen­dol tastes very dif­fer­ent to reg­u­lar chen­dol here,” shares Kham­puang.

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