On 20th of August 2011, 250 chefs from around the world, over 45 countries, participated in World Chefs Tour Against Hunger. The proceed would feed African children via Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger Trust Fund. One of the chefs representing Thailand was Chef Kent (Arnon Masanglong) of InterContinental Hua Hin. We dropped by to check out his cooking class.
Going to Markets with Chef Kent
Believing in cooking only fresh and natural ingredients, Chef Kent took us hunting for the best ingredients at 2 markets, roadside fishermen's market and Chatchai Market.
The first market was in a fishing village, just north of Hua Hin, where the fishermen dropped off their catch of the day at a few seafood stands by the beach. The highlight was that the class was going to the fish market in a boat! We were very excited. Unfortunately, when we set out, there was some rain and light wind and the Intercontinental didn’t want to risk having the boat out at sea. When we got to the fishing village, it was pouring. I was so glad that we didn’t take the boat.
We thought the highlight the trip would be the boat ride, but the strip of little seafood stalls was a treat in itself. On a stretch of road lined with fishing boats and seafood stalls, several travellers were busy buying and packing their seafood in styrofoam boxes for the trip home. Chef Kent selected a few items and taught us a few tricks in selecting fresh seafood, like how fresh squid skin would not separate from its flesh.
After getting seafood, we visited Chatchai Market, a large market in Hua Hin with more fresh seafood and local produce. The market was vibrant, full of local seafood and produce. As most traditional markets in Thailand and unlike most western markets, Chatchai market was neither sterile nor controlled. The fish was still slapping about. Chef Kent said they couldn't use that food for the hotel because all their food had to be HAACP certified, but it was a great to hear his opinion and thoughts on all the various ingredients.
Too Many Cooks in the Family
Chef Kent came from a long line of chefs. His parents were cooks. His 8 siblings are all in the food business as well. One was a chef for the Kuwaiti Amir. Another was a airline chef. Just imagine when they have a family get together. I asked him about the scene at his family reunion, thinking it must be fun to get all the chefs in one place. "All they want to do is to sit and eat! Nobody wants to cook", Chef Kent said.
Cooking wasn't a passion for him when he first started. “I hated it!’, Chef Kent said. His mother had him help out in the kitchen. Overtime, he absorbed the love of cooking and slowly it became his life and passion. “It’s in the blood”, he said.
The menu for the cooking school included sweet and sour fish, seafood salad, tom yum goong and shrimp with tamarind sauce. Our sweet was sticky rice mango with coconut ice cream.
The class is set in the open kitchen of Pirom Restaurant at the Intercontinental. I sat at the counter watching Chef Kent perform his magic. While many cooking classes offer authentic off-beaten path dishes that are hard to replicate in students homelands, the 4 dishes, sweet and sour fish, seafood salad, tom yum goong and shrimp with tamarind sauce, are reasonably replicable. You need a few key Thai ingredients to reproduce the dishes. With his experience cooking around the world, he was knowledgeable in the availability of substitutions. Throughout the class, he talked about little tricks and how things could be done simply.
Here are 2 recipes from Chef Kent:
Prawn with Tamarind Sauce (Goong Makham)
100 g Prawns, devein and deep fried
1 ½ tablespoons of cooking oil
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 lemongrass, crushed
5 grams coriander roots
10 grams garlic
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce
30 grams palm sugar or brown sugar
½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
Deep fried shallot (thinly sliced and fried until crispy) and coriander roots. Grind coriander roots, garlic and white pepper into paste. Heat the oil on low heat. Add the paste and stir fry for 2 minutes until the aroma develops. Add fresh prawns, tamarind paste, palm sugar, fish sauce, dark soy sauce and crushed lemongrass. Stir fry the mixture for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the sliced kaffir lime leaves. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle deep fried shallot and coriander leaves for garnish.
Seafood Salad (Yum Talay)
30 g prawns
20 g fillet fish
30 g squids, cut into bite size
20 g scallops
5 g celery
15 g onion
5 g spring onion (green onion)
5 g coriander root
10 g garlic
3 g Thai chili
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
2 tablespoon lime juice
Immerse the prawns, squids and scallops in boiling water until just done. Grind coriander root, garlic and hot chili in a mortar. Add sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. In a mixing bowl, add the seafood and the sauce. Add onion, celery and spring onion. Toss gently. Pour onto a serving dish and serve.
More about Chef Kent.InterContinental Hua Hin Resort33/33, Petchkasem Road, Hua HinPrachuabkhirikhan, 77110 ThailandPhone: +66-32-616-999Fax: +66-32-616-555