Thai cuisine is a complex web of flavours. That's what you will discover at the food festival at Oriental Pearl
Pic. by K. Pichumani
Cooking up a storm: Siriphone Rattanawisetpracha presents a taste of Thailand
UNFAMILIAR SPICES can completely transform even familiar food. Take coconut milk. A staple for any Malayalee, the thick, sweet milk is as familiar to him as the coconut oil that keeps his hair in all its slick glory. But add a fistful of Thai spices to the milk, and it completely changes its flavour, becoming a delightfully versatile ingredient - the backbone of a whole new menu.
Blend of flavours
And that, possibly, is the secret of great Thai food. It's a complex web of flavours, woven around basic ingredients like rice, fish noodles and coconut milk, and created by balancing a vast palette of spices: lemon grass, coriander, holy basil, garlic, fresh pepper and aromatic galangal, to name a few.
At the Oriental Pearl, at GRT Grand, little miss Siriphone Rattanawisetpracha from Prachin Buri, Thailand, is in the kitchen with her bag of fragrant spices, delicately cooking up a storm. She pops out occasionally, to give the restaurant clientele a big ear-to-ear grin, before disappearing back into the kitchen, to fire out dish after dish with military precision.
A tray of spicy prawn satay served with a semi-sweet squishy peanut dip begins the procession. It is followed by a chicken and lemongrass salad. Moist with the juices of its ingredients, the most vocal of which is lemon grass, this is made with small crunchy pieces of batter-fried chicken and a smattering of onion rings. Thai food, as a rule, uses small pieces of meat and vegetables so that flavours mingle.
Lemon grass theme
The lemon grass theme is repeated in the soup, made with sweet coconut milk that has been spiced up with lime, galangal and red chillies, and then liberally showered with bite-sized mushrooms and meat. The steaming soup is a treat, and an apt opener for the main course.
This brings together a variety of tastes and textures on one plate. There's crispy lamb, stir fried with peanut sauce and interspersed with crunchy peanut crumbs, and it's served with soft, sticky yellow Thai noodles, stir fried with peanut sauce and chilly flakes. The jumbo prawns, however, served in a curry sauce are rather average, as is the fried rice, which is afloat with pineapple chunks.
Dessert is tako, sweet corn with coconut cream and woon kati, also made with coconut. If you're in the mood to experiment, try it. Otherwise, perhaps you could just chew on your fortune cookie instead. Sometimes, it's a good idea to conclude while the going is still good.
The festival is on March 20. Call 28150500 for reservations.
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