Talking about Thai cuisines, there are two dishes that you should never do wrong when you are in the food sector — pad thai and tom yum. These, according to chefs, are easy to prepare but a lot of food establishments offering Asian cuisines in Oman usually get them wrong.
If you’ve ever spent even just a day in the streets of Bangkok, you’d know what authentic flavour means and the right texture of the rice noodles and the little elements that make a pad thai pop is quite hard to forget that you begin to develop a hypercritical perspective towards how the food is prepared. The same thing can be said about tom yum which needed the perfect balance of sourness and spice. The next time you taste them after you’ve tried the authentic ones, you’d know right away if you are being duped.
As the people of Thailand celebrate Songkran or the Thai New Year on April 13, Chef Praiwan Sriplai flew all the way from Thailand to make the residents of Oman experience what an authentic Thai food taste like.
Originally from Pattaya, he has over 27 years of culinary experience working in different hotel chains including the Ritz Carlton, InterContinental, and Marriott hotels. He reaped several awards in his over two decades as a chef the most notable awards being the Best Asian Restaurant award given in Beirut, the Best Thai Food by the Mumbai Gold Star Award and the Best FarEast Cuisine he earned in Muscat.
Only in the Sultanate for barely a week, he conducted a special cooking demo with select members of the media and renowned influencers at Trader Vics, Intercontinental Hotel Muscat’s homey resto-bar that offers contemporary continental cuisines.
Passionate in nurturing the classic Thai dishes, Chef Praiwan wanted to demonstrate that the secret to a good dish is its ingredients.
For his mission, he decided to teach the attendees how to prepare Pad Thai, Papaya Salads, and the Thai Green Curry which are all staple of a Thai dining table.
Proud of his heritage and the Thai Festival sweeping the country in the next few days, all key ingredients including fish sauce, key lime, chilis and other sauces were all brought from Thailand as he believes that nothing beats the taste of his home country.
“Pad Thai is one of the most popular Thai food. If you go to any restaurant and you want to know if the food is good or not, you can order this. It is also the best way to know if the chef is good or not,” he said.
While one of the secrets to a good pad thai is keeping the ingredients fresh, the most basic should always be present — peanuts, ginger, eggs, chilli, tofu and the rice noodles. The difference can also be dictated by the sauce and in Thailand, the sweet and sour Tamarind sauce (mixed with soy sauce and sugar) ties all the flavour together.
“We also prefer using rice noodle. Noodles can be made from different grains making each of them having their own unique characteristics. Over the years, we also managed to make sure that some recipes are gluten-free,” he said.
“And of course, pad thai is also nice with a little bit of heat coming from the chilli,” he said.
The pad thai demo took barely 15-minutes to prepare and looked quite easy but upon tasting what Chef Praiwan prepared, it automatically became apparent that he knew what he was talking about. The finished product does take you back to the streets of Bangkok.
As an homage to the Thai’s unique culture and to show an appreciation for the importance of the Thai New Year, the Thai Menu special that Chef Praiwan prepared for Trader Vics is made available to guests from April 3 to 14 from 6 pm till midnight.
You can enjoy the mentioned staple food of a Thai dinner table including vegetable spring roll, fried marinated cake fish, prawns and chicken soup, roasted duck and crispy fried fish all prepared the Thai way.
While Chef Praiwan enjoyed his time in Oman, he is flying back to Thailand on April 19 to join his family in their post-Songkran celebration but confident that he is leaving behind an impression that one should not settle for less especially when it comes to Thai food.