By SHELLEY TOPP
Thai food has become a popular dining-out and takeaway option for Kiwis.
Thai food can be complicated to create, with complex flavours.
However, a simple omelette (khai jiao) is an easy dish to start with for home cooks wanting to expand their repertoire during the lockdown, says the owner/chef of Loburn’s Lemongrass Restaurant, Sriamorn Reavill.
Sriamorn owns Lemongrass with her English husband, Paul, who is an architectural technician.
She learnt to cook at an early age, growing up with four siblings and a large extended family in Chachoengsao, near Thailand’s capital, Bangkok.
Her maternal grandmother, Lom, who still lives in Thailand, is one of 18 brothers and sisters and all the children, bar one who died young, learned to cook as youngsters.
“With so many people in the family to provide food for, everyone had to learn how to cook,” Sriamorn says.
Lom is “the number one cook” in the family, she says.
“She loves cooking. We all learnt from her and everyone was always trying to be better than everyone else.”
Lom had a small restaurant in her home providing tasty meals, often made from vegetables grown in her garden, for many people in the poor neighbourhood.
“She loves cooking for a lot of people all the time,” Sriamorn says. “Everything she cooked was beautifully home-made from scratch. It is a wonderful way for children to learn how to cook.”
Although Sriamorn worked as an optician in Thailand before coming to New Zealand, her dream was to establish a restaurant in her home as her grandmother had done.
“I wanted people to experience the same kind of home-cooked Thai food I did growing up.”
So when she came to New Zealand with Paul to live in 2003 they decided to look for a suitable place to establish a restaurant. Lemongrass opened in 2016 but is now closed during the coronavirus lockdown.
The restaurant is in the couple’s family home, surrounded by hazelnut and fruit trees on a lifestyle block in Fletcher’s Rd. It has received rave reviews on Tripadvisor.
“We were lucky to find this place,” Sriamorn says.
Sriamorn has also always wanted her own children, Aaron, aged 13, and Chelsey, aged 11, to grow up learning to cook as she has done, so she has made this a priority. Both children are now good cooks.
“You start with something simple, like an omelette, and when they see that they can cook something as good as mum their confidence grows,” she says. Sriamorn says she is always happy to help anyone wanting advice on how to cook Thai food and make meals go further on a tight budget.
“We grew up in a very poor village and learnt to create something from nothing,” she says.
Khai jiao (omelette)
■Three eggs (whisked to combine);
■ 3 tablespoons of canola oil*;
■2-3 teaspoons of soy sauce or fish
■Half a medium-sized white onion
Method: Break eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk until frothy. Add sliced onion and soy sauce or fish sauce.
Heat oil in a large frying pan until almost at smoking point. Pour eggs, onions and sauce into the pan and watch closely to prevent burning. When the bottom half begins to brown slightly flip it over to cook the other side before serving.
Cooking notes: Do not use olive oil in place of canola oil as it has a lower heating point and also a stronger flavour, which will alter the taste of the omelette.
You can also add chopped meat or vegetables to the omelette (pork mince, chicken mince, prawns, mushrooms, spring onions, tomatoes etc) at this time.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice and sriracha sauce or any other sauce in the pantry to your liking. Use the biggest frying pan available as a small pan will turn it into scrambled eggs and does not offer enough room to flip the omelette.