Curious shoppers at the Manor Park branch of the Hi-Lo supermarket chain were pleasantly surprised last weekend to see Thai food cooking demonstrations and tastings within the confines of the store. The effort was a collaboration between Kanya Armortheerakul, director of the Thai Trade Centre in Miami, and Thalia Lyn, the Jamaican honorary consul general of Thailand. The Thai Trade Centre is a non-profit organisation of the Thai government whose primary mission is to promote trade between Thailand and the Caribbean. The demonstrations, which took place last Friday to Sunday, featured renowned Thai chef Mayuree Saipetch, who works at Couples Ocho Rios.
With Hi-Lo food stores being a subsidiary of Grace Kennedy Limited, it was only natural for Chef Saipetch to incorporate products from the brand such as Grace Mackerel in Tomato Sauce, Grace Sardines and Grace Coconut Milk Powder, as she prepared signature Thai dishes. Andrew Ho, head of strategy and support services at Grace Kennedy Food Services, explained to Thursday Food that the partnership with the Thai Trade Centre was a natural move for the company. "Not only did it sound like an exciting venture that would perhaps expose our local consumers to the Thai culture, but Grace has also had a special relationship with Thailand. Approximately 12 per cent of our products come out of Thailand," he explained.
The Thai Trade Centre first started its demonstrations in Miami, then moved on to Trinidad before sharing its culinary skills with Jamaica. Thalia Lyn, the honorary consul general of Thailand, explained: "What better way to get Jamaicans to try Thai food than to bring it to them directly? I believe that Jamaicans will appreciate the cuisine because it is very similar to what they are used to, in terms of how spicy it is."
Though many consumers were sceptical to sample the dishes at first, many of them walked away with a smile on their faces, giving the dishes two thumbs up. We share highlights of the demonstrations, plus delicious recipes you can try at home.
Green Curry Chicken
10 oz skinless boneless chicken breast
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsps green curry paste
2 kaffir lime leaf
1 cup water
3 tbsps fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 cup eggplant strips
1 cup bamboo shoot strips
1/2 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
20 whole fresh basil leaves
Slice the chicken into strips. Heat a cup of the coconut milk in a wok on high heat until it starts boiling. Add green curry paste and reduce the heat to medium. Stir until it dissolves in the milk. Add a second cup of coconut milk, raise the heat to maximum and let it cook for 8-10 minutes until the oil of the coconut milk rises to the top of the sauce and thickens.
Add eggplant and season with fish sauce. When the curry returns to a boil, the eggplant will be cooked.
Add chillies, shredded kaffir lime leaves and sweet basil leaves to the wok.
Tom Yum Praka Pong
Spicy Mackerel Soup with Chilli Paste
11 oz can of Grace Mackerel in Tomato Sauce
100 grams straw mushrooms
1 stalk lemon grass, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 grams coriander roots
2 tbsps fish sauce
2 tbsps lime or lemon juice
3 leaves kaffir lime, shredded
1-2 lightly crushed bird's eye chillies
5 coriander leaves
1 tbsp chilli paste
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup water
Smash lemon grass with the flat of a chef's knife and then cut it into 1- inch pieces.
Slice coriander roots and tear kaffir lime leaves into thirds. Cut chillies in half. Mix these in a bowl. Heat coconut milk and water in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes. Do not let it boil.
Reduce heat to medium and add the mixture of lemon grass, coriander roots, kaffir lime leaves and chillies. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
Add mushrooms and Grace Mackerel in Tomato Sauce for 5 minutes, stirring over medium heat.
Add lime juice and fish sauce. Stir and continue cooking for another minute or two.