After our journey to Singapore last episode, we’re back to Thailand, this time in Pattaya, to see NZ Masterchef Brett McGregor boldly take on a local master in a cook-off of the local dish Som Tum Puma. And we take in the sights, sounds and flavours of a local market where Brett is inspired by some sticky rice street food baked in a bamboo cane, before getting up close and personal sampling some crispy critters you’re more likely to find in a Kiwi garden – not on a plate!
Pattaya is a beach side tourist spot situated on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Daytrips to nearby island groups are popular diversions, as are days spent at Pattaya's 21 golf courses and many amusement parks, and the fun continues on with its legendary nightlife. While it offers something for every traveller, it has not lost its authenticity and this is certainly evident in its food.
It’s here Brett McGregor comes to perfect a personal favourite, Som Tum Puma - a fresh, light and healthy, but flavoursome, papaya salad with blue crab. Described as a real party in your mouth that’s sure to make your palette sing! The dressing is the secret – getting the right balance of sweetness, then spicy, rounded of with sour. Delicious! But rather than be the humble student, Brett decides to challenge the head masterchef from a popular beach resort to a Kiwi vs Thai Som Tum showdown. We see the two handpick their ingredients from the local market and while there, Brett gets first hand experience at making sticky rice baked in a bamboo shoot and is offered the choice of crispy critters of the garden variety – anyone for fried grasshopper or cockroach with that salad?
The best thing about this cooking series, is that Brett takes his inspiration from the masters then puts his twist on it based on ingredients available in NZ - while still remaining true to its origins. Kind of same, same – but different. Blue crab is not available here, but can be easily swapped with any seafood such as crayfish, crabmeat or prawns as Brett does in Som Tam Talay. And while you’re unlikely to find bamboo canes in the fruit and vege section of your local supermarket, you can still create a more decadent version of the sticky rice as a Coconut Rice Pudding with Toffee, with its crunchy caramelised top – similar to Crème Brulee, with an Asian influence.
Why not impress your friends and family with these dishes, and others from the Taste of a Traveller series, and be transported on a culinary journey to South East Asia.