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Culture The Katchup

How To Eat Sticky Rice Without Embarrassing Yourself

“Mexicans always love sticky rice,” was a saying my Laotian friend and his older brothers loved to exclaim, as a 12-year-old me learned the parallels between it and tortillas, and grasped the concept with their help.

The glutinous rice is prepared in different ways throughout Asia, but if you find yourself in a Southeast Asian restaurant such as Thai, Lao, or Vietnamese (but primarily in Laotian cuisine), it is meant to be grabbed with your hands and used as an edible utensil.

To this day, I’m thankful that my dear old friend and his family taught me about his culture’s dishes, as I often order sticky rice at Southeast Asian-based restaurants and get a, “Wow, you actually know how to eat sticky rice!” from the servers.

Apparently the way you handle sticky rice can easily expose your familiarity with Southeast Asian cuisine, according to Chef Saeng Douangdara, who spoke on the matter during the Foodbeast Katchup Podcast.

“So when I go to a Lao restaurant and I see non-Lao people come in, I can see if it’s their first time or not by the way they eat the sticky rice,” Chef Saeng said. “With sticky rice, we use that as a spoon.”

Saeng specializes in Lao cuisine, and has been an advocate for exposing the U.S. palate to the often-suppressed Lao flavors.

If you’re not familiar with sticky rice, it’s not unusual to start sticking your fork into it, serving it on the side of your plate and eating it as you would most other types of rice. But if you really want to look like a pro, Saeng laid out the steps plainly:

“You just take like a quarter size… play with it for a bit, clump that up until all the grains of the rice come together and it’s all mushy. Once you have it in that sticky form, you could make it flat if you want or just use it as a ball to just scoop up that extra jalapeno dip or that extra stew or beef. That’s kind of like your spoon, unless you’re eating like a noodle dish, then that’s where you use chopsticks.”

Similarly to how my fellow Mexicans like to rip apart tortillas and use them as scoopers or how pitas are used for Mediterranean food, sticky rice applies the same concept.

While it sounds simple, it could be a little intimidating to see that rice-filled bamboo basket come to your table and not be 100 percent confident with how to eat it.

Alas, it is all part of the beauty of learning about other cultures, respectfully enjoying their traditions, and expanding your palate in ways you never have before.

If you’d like to learn more about Chef Saeng, Laotian cuisine, and its subtle connection to Thai food, listen in to The Foodbeast Katchup, episode #76: Lao Chef Calls Out Foodbeast. If you enjoy the podcast, feel free to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or even YouTube for more in-depth food conversations that you will not hear anywhere else.

Categories
Brand Culture Grocery Hit-Or-Miss Opinion

Sriracha’s Hometown Is Not Impressed With The U.S. Rooster Sauce Version

The reputation of Huy Fong Sriracha precedes it, at least in the United States. I add it to all my favorite foods and expect it to be available at every Asian-style restaurant I come across. Imagine my shock when I read that its country of origin is not impressed by the ubiquitous Rooster version.

When reporter Michael Sullivan visited Thailand to learn more about the origins of this famous sauce, he discovered that Vietnamese-American Sriracha is not at all like the sauce the coastal city of Si Racha holds near and dear.

Locals describe the flavor of real Sriracha sauce as klom klom: the balance of hot, sour, sweet, and garlic. American Sriracha is known and loved for its heat, which is exactly what many Thai people found off-putting.

Although there are many sauces on the market, Sriraja Panich is said to be the original sauce created by Gimsua Timkrajang according to his great-granddaughter Saowanit Trikityanukul. It started out only as a treat for family and friends with plenty of hard work and careful attention to ingredients; Saowanit even recalled a single batch taking months to prepare.

Eventually, close family began selling their own version of Sriracha sauce and it grew in popularity. Despite having invented the sauce, the family never felt the need to patent it. Saowanit told Sullivan that the recipe wasn’t much of a secret anyways as they had the ingredients listed on the bottle.

As an experiment, Sullivan had locals taste test the Rooster sauce and in return did not receive the best reactions. “When I first tasted it, I wanted to gag. Too bitter. It’s not klom klom” local Chuwet Kanja stated.

Huy Fong’s Sriracha may not be favored amongst the Thai, but distributer Super Ting Tong have begun importing the sauce into Thailand with little worry. Slow and steady progression is still progression in their perspective expressed founder Robert Booth to Sullivan.

On the other hand, Thai manufacturer Thaitheperos has been importing Sriraja Panich to the U.S. without great success. Americans are accustomed to the Vietnamese-American flavor and perceive Super Ting Tong’s Sriracha as what the sauce should taste like.

Setbacks aside, Varanya and export manager Paweena Kingpad expects Sriraja Panich to dominate the world market because of strong sales in China, already selling 100,000 bottles a month. Their success, Varanya claims, is due to the fact that “Asian people know how to eat.”

Sriracha may have come from Thailand, but I believe we can find beauty in every interpretation of it.

Categories
Culture Restaurants

Eat With Your Hands At This Restaurant’s Bountiful ‘Lao Table’ Feast

In Laos and nearby northeastern Thailand, the traditional way of eating dinner was to serve everything on a communal platform that everyone sat around. Baskets of sticky rice would be passed, and everyone would dig in with their hands to the bounty before them.

You won’t find this format very often in the United States, but one Thai chef has brought it into his restaurant to help inspire that sense of community around eating.

 

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Chef Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang, who runs Bib Gourmand-acclaimed Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, has begun serving a “Lao Table” at his restaurant for those who want to partake in this utensil-free feast. Feeding at least eight people, the dishes served are seasonal, based on what’s locally available, and all authentic to Saengsawang’s northern Thai roots.

 

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That means everything from fresh shrimp and whole grilled chickens to warming soups and refreshing salads can be found on the Lao Table. It’s up to you and your squad to decide on how to divvy up the festive feast in front of you after that.

Saengsawang’s recreation of the food he grew up with makes for an unforgettable and memorable dining experience worth gearing up a crew for. Perhaps it’ll even inspire everyone to get together and do more communal activities, who knows?

Lao Table meals can now be reserved at Farmhouse Kitchen all year long at their three locations in Portland, San Francisco, and Oakland. If you’re going to partake in this feast, it’s best to call the restaurant a day or two in advance to secure a reservation.


All featured media in this post courtesy of @cyneats on Instagram.
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#foodbeast Adventures Brand FOODBEAST Hacks Restaurants SPONSORED

Thai Green Curry Meets Cup Noodles In This Restaurant’s Heartwarming Dish

When in Queens, New York, you can’t pass up family-run Thailand’s Center Point if you want some authentic Thai cuisine. The restaurant/grocery store hybrid has been touted as the destination for local Thais in search for a taste of home.

It’s also known for a adding a modern interpretation to classic dishes, which can be seen in one of their newest creations: Thai Green Curry Cup Noodles.

Created by owner Annie Phinphatthakul, the dish is a blend between the intricate aromas of Thai green curry and the Cup Noodles her daughter loves. It brings together the savory umami of the Nissin Cup Noodles with the aromatic punch you’ll find in traditional green curry.

The sauce and noodles combine in a bowl with avocado, corn, bell pepper, and two kinds of shrimp – fried whole and freshly cooked tails – to add all different kinds of textures and tastes to the dish.

Fans of both Nissin Cup Noodles and legit Thai food will want to flock to Thailand’s Center Point to get this exclusive item. It’ll be on the menu starting October 18, while supplies last.

Photo by Marc Kharrat


Created in partnership with Nissin Cup Noodles

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#foodbeast Adventures Cravings FOODBEAST Restaurants SPONSORED

San Francisco’s Farmhouse Thai Just Created Spicy Volcano Cup Noodles

There’s an overwhelming feeling of independence when preparing your own Nissin Cup Noodles. We all know someone who has their own special way of preparing it, by adding an array of special spices – or even a favorite hot sauce – that will transform any cup into a personalized masterpiece.  

Regardless if you’re a novice at-home cook, or a classically trained chef, the personal connection to a meal you can cook yourself is a rewarding feeling.

For Kesem Saengsawang, owner and executive chef at Thai Farmhouse Kitchen in San Francisco’s Mission District, Nissin Cup Noodles played a significant role in his childhood and still does today.

For Saengsawang, the spicier the cup, the better – that’s what he had in mind when Thai Farmhouse Kitchen partnered with Original Cup Noodles, thus conceptualizing the Volcano Dream Cup Noodles.

After one bite, this flaming hot noodle dish will be burned into your memory forever in the best way possible. This fiery cup of steamy noods is made with a juicy slow-cooked beef rib, and pan fried noodles tossed in a spicy Thai devil sauce, with bird’s eye chili, tamarind, cumin, garlic, onion and cilantro.  

Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind creation which will only be available inside the All-You-Can-Eat Section at FOODBEAST’s Noods Oakland presented by Nissin Cup Noodles on April 7th. Visit www.noodsfest.com for more information or to purchase tickets.


Created in partnership with Original Cup Noodles

Categories
Culture

Servers Zip-Line You Food At This Hanging Restaurant In Thailand

Thailand looks like a dope place to visit. Sure, my only frame of reference is The Hangover 2, and a crazy video my buddy put together after blowing his financial aid money on a vacation, but it still sounds amazing.

This Tree Pod Restaurant in Koh Kood, Thailand is one of the coolest restaurant concepts I’ve heard of, and definitely makes my food-loving heart want to take a trip to the Southeast Asian country even more.

TreePod dining in the Soneva Kiri Resort, is basically a booth and table that is elevated 35 feet into the air and lets you hang while you eat. Since this is no ordinary restaurant table, the staff serves you a little differently.

In order to get to your hanging table, the servers zip line themselves to take your order, bring you your food, and check to see how your meal is going.

Not to mention, the view is pretty killer up there:

poddinner

If this is Thailand’s version of romantic dinners by the beach, count me the hell in.

Categories
Technology

Government Builds Robot to Judge Thai Food

Sukhothai-Noodles

People take their national foods seriously, that’s a given. So when someone is producing sub-par dishes and calling them authentic, it ruins things for everyone else. The prime minister of Thailand is especially tired of restaurants cooking up crappy Thai food, so she had a robot created to solve the problem. Yeah.

According to the NY Times, the Thai Delicious Committee is a group focused on ensuring that Thai cuisine meets high-quality expectations. The committee appointed a robotic judge to deem what is worthy of being called Thai food. The machine utilizes a series of sensors to emulate the chemical signatures of Thai dishes. It then compares the results with a government database of what is considered a “good dish” and projects a score out of 100. If a dish falls below a score of 80 points, it’s legally considered bad Thai food.

The plan is have one of these machines in each of the Thai embassies throughout the world. Each unit is valued at $18,000, and the machines will judge selected restaurants within the areas where they’re stationed. While the science behind it seems pretty solid, some are wary of the robot judge. They feel humans would be better suited to gauge authenticity rather than machines.

Robots can’t taste the love of home cooking. If they could understand love, we’d have a bigger problem than just shitty food.

H/T NY Times

Categories
Recipes

How to Make Curry Noodles for National Noodle Month

Curry Noodle

Nothing beats a hearty bowl of noodles, especially as winter is coming to a close. March is the official month for noodles and in honor of that, we have a recipe from celebrity chef Jet Tila for some drool-worthy Khao Soi Curry Noodles. So first, get an eyeful of all that deliciousness pictured above and get started.

 

Khao Soi Northern Curry Noodles

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. yellow curry paste
  • 2 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 2 Kaffir Lime Leave (fine chiffonade)
  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • ½ cup demi-glace or rich beef stock
  • 1 lbs. beef tenderloin (sliced finger width, about 2’’ long)
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • ½ lbs. fresh flat noodles (boiled, rinsed and drained)
  • ½ cup Chinese pickled mustard greens (drained and thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup shallots (peeled, small diced)
  • 2 scallions (sliced)
  • 1/2 cilantro leaves

How to Make It

  • Heat 3 tbsp of coconut milk in a saucepan to medium and stir curry pastes and lime leaves in.
  • Stir fry for a minute until the paste begins to brown and thicken.
  • Stir in remaining coconut milk into curry paste.
  • Turn heat up until mixture boils.
  • Let boil for 5-10 minutes or until it reduces about 1/4.
  • Reduce heat and let simmer. Add demi-glance, fish sauce, tamarind and sugar.
  • Make sure to taste and adjust accordingly.
  • Add beef filet right before serving.
  • Separate noodles into bowls and ladle broth over each bowl.
  • Garnish with mustard greens, shallots, scallions and cilantro.

Recipe Courtesy of Chef Jet Tila