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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Chef Chai

Restaurant Insider

April 5, 2020

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: Anne Lee

ANNE LEE speaks with founder CHEF CHAI CHAOWASAREE

I recently got to chat with local culinary expert chef Chai Chaowasaree. Despite closing his restaurant — which is aptly named Chef Chai, too — for at least another month, he won’t be leaving his patrons missing his delicious Thai dishes for too long. This time, though, they’ll be the one’s cooking in the kitchen — learn more online at facebook.com/chefchai. Today, he shares a recipe for easy-to-make Thai Red Chicken Curry.

AL: You decided to close the restaurant during this time, can you let our readers know why you decided to close and not offer takeout options?

CC: Our employees’ and guests’ safety are our priority. People should be staying home as much as possible. Plus, there are already several restaurants that offer takeout. If every restaurant does the same, the market will be saturated and not good for everyone.

AL: Cooking comes very natural to you. You have had the experience of having cooking shows in the past, AND now you are starting those up again. Can you tell me how this came about?

CC:I had the idea of starting up my new cooking show knowing people will stay home for many weeks to come with the poor economy. Cooking at home might save some money. Plus, I enjoy sharing my gift with others.

AL: How do readers access your recipes and view your cooking shows?

CC: It’s very simple. Follow us at facebook. com/chefchai or @chefchaipacifica on Insta-gram. We posted many recipes, and there’s many more to come. Next week, we will show tasty, easy vegan dishes.

AL: These recipes are traditional Thai recipes, can you tell us what makes traditional Thai cuisine different than what we normally find in Thai restaurants?

CC:Thai cuisine is fast and easy. There are no sauce reductions for hours like some other cuisines. Plus, our food is very healthy and easy to adapt for any special diet, such as gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian.

AL: What recipe will you be sharing with us today?

CC: We will be making Thai Red Chicken Curry, and we are using this special brand of curry paste, AROY-D, which you can find at most supermarkets here in Hawaii. This version is made with chicken, but you can substitute the chicken with pork, beef, scallops or firm tofu. You can also substitute the eggplant with bamboo shoots or any preferred vegetable.

AL: How can people keep up with you and learn more?

CC: Just follow us on Facebook or Instagram. We also post special events there.

AL: April would have been your seven-year anniversary, do you have plans to celebrate this milestone sometime in May?

CC: We are planing something special for my Dining Out readers. I want to offer special dishes from my childhood that I learned when I was a young boy in Bangkok. More details to come later.

AL: Anything else you want to share? CC: Stay home and be safe. We are in a different chapter of our life, and it is not just about you. It is your loved ones, your friends, family, and especially your parents. So take care of each other and enjoy family dinners together.

Thai Red Chicken Curry

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon shallots, chopped
• 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
• 2/3 cup coconut milk, fattiest part
• 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
• 3 8.5-ounce cans coconut milk
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• 2 stalks lemongrass
• 2 cups eggplant, diced large
• 1 cup bell pepper, diced large
• 1 cup fresh basil

Instructions

1. In a large pot on medium heat, add vegetable oil, garlic, shallots and Thai red curry paste. Sauté for 1 minute.

2. Add 2/3 cup coconut milk and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat until the curry turns to a thick paste and fat starts to break — about 5 minutes.

3. Add chicken and turn the heat up to medium or high, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then, add 3 cans of coconut milk and bring to a boil.

4. Add fish sauce, sugar, paprika and lemongrass, and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

5. Add eggplant and bell peppers, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then, add basil at the end. Turn off the heat right after basil is added. 6. Serve with a bowl of rice or noodles.

Tip: You can substitute the chicken with pork, beef, scallops or firm tofu. You can also substitute the eggplant with bamboo shoots or your favorite vegetable.

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