FOR the past 15 years, the fresh and exciting flavours of the Thai food movement have captivated the hearts and palates of casual diners and gourmets alike.
Quick to satisfy our growing appetite for the sweet, tang, and spice of the south-east, dozens of Thai restaurants sprouted up across the country as Thai food swiftly earned its status as one of Australia's favourite cuisines.
So what does the Sunshine Coast's newest Thai restaurant bring to the plate?
Opening their doors only last November, Thai-ism@peregian owners Steven Hudson and his wife Chancharat are looking to tantalise local tastebuds by developing their own fusion recipes and putting innovative, modern twists on otherwise traditional Thai dishes.
In the kitchen, Chancharat and her cousin Somruk lead a Thai team of chefs, bringing 10 years of family experience in Thai cooking to the culinary creations Peregian residents have come to love.
Owner and manager Steven believes the use of light, fresh ingredients in cooking is not only what sets Thai dishes apart from other Asian cuisines, but is also what Aussie foodies crave.
"It's the whole range of different herbs, spices and all the flavours that make the dishes so special," Steven said.
"You've got your lemongrass, chilli, garlic, lime and coriander - these just make great combinations people love.
"We can almost call Thai food Australian now because there's so much of it. They love Thai food and I think it's because it's so different from western food.
"People eat something that's Thai, whether it might be a curry or a stir fry, and it has all these flavours that are so new to them."
Funnily enough, Steven's first sampling of Thai food was memorable for the wrong reasons, but inevitably did not deter him from wanting to open his own Thai restaurant later down the track.
"My first experience with Thai food was about 23 years ago, and a friend of mine had recently gone to Thailand," he said.
"He suggested we try some Thai food and we went to this restaurant, one of the first Thai restaurants in Sydney, and I got takeaway.
"And while we were both eating in the car on the way to the city, I managed to spill Thai food all over me and in the car - and I cursed it.
"But then I decided after a while that I might just open a Thai restaurant one day, because the second time I tried it, it was so yummy.
"It took me 20 years to get around to doing it, but after meeting my wife I learnt how good it can be."
Steven and his family have also visited Thailand on numerous occasions, where Steven immersed himself in the country and its traditional Thai cooking.
"I fell in love with the culture and the food, and so it seemed that bringing that back home was something we wanted to do," Steven said.
"I said to my wife, instead of driving out into the city to work at the family's restaurants, we could open our own."
But after opening and working at Thai-ism Blacktown for three years, it took little convincing for Steven and Chancharat to make the sea change to the Sunshine Coast to open a new restaurant.
"For a long time, I wanted us to move to somewhere in Queensland. I wasn't sure where, but we wanted to get away from Sydney's inner city," Steven said.
"Then two lovely ladies from the Sunshine Coast who visited our restaurant in Sydney suggested we come up.
"So we came up for a holiday and looked around. We thought it was a great area, and we saw the potential."
Thai-ism@peregian offers more than 50 dishes on their menu, including restaurant specials like Juicy Roast Duck Basil, Thai Fig Lamb, and Coconut Lime Prawn.
Steven said a new restaurant menu would also include whole fish and seafood dishes that would be prepared by Thai chef Watchara Muenraya, a five-star restaurant chef from Sydney and the newest addition to the team.
Thai-ism@peregian, at the Peregian Springs Shopping Centre, is open seven days for lunch and dinner. Reservations on 5471 2882.
TOM KHA PRAWN SOUP
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- 2 cups of water
- 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only)
- 3-5 pieces of galangal
- 500gm of tiger prawns
- 2 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 4-5 cherry tomatoes
- A handful of straw mushrooms or button mushrooms.
- 3 tablespoon of lime juice
- 5 kaffir lime leaves cut in half
- 2 birds eye chillies
- A few coriander leaves for garnish
Add the two cups of water or stock to pot or wok.
Add coconut milk, lemongrass and galangal.
Bring to boil.
Add the tiger prawns.
Add the fish sauce then tomatoes, mushrooms stir in the lime juice.
Allow to simmer for a couple of min before serving.
Adjust seasoning to taste.
CASHEW NUT CHICKEN
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- Half tablespoon of sugar
- 2 and a half tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons of chilli jam
- 500gm of sliced chicken breast fillet
- 1 chopped capsicum
- 2 chopped spring onions
- 1 handful of roasted cashews
Heat the oil in the wok, stir fry the garlic until golden brown. Add the chilli jam then add the chicken.
Stir fry, adding the fish sauce, sugar and oyster sauce till chicken is cooked. Add the capsicum and onion and stir fry for 30 seconds.
Sprinkle the cashew nuts on top.
Serve with jasmine rice.