Samui Wining & Dining
Do it Yourself!

Experience the cutting-edge techniques of New Contemporary Thai Cuisine at Twisted Thai.

 

10Recently opened in January, Twisted Thai restaurant on Chaweng Noi Beach has brought a whole new dimension to Samui’s exciting culinary scene. Described as ‘New Contemporary Thai Cuisine’, they take well known dishes and turn the traditional methods of preparation and presentation on their heads. All the same flavours, textures and aromas are there but in ways you wouldn’t expect.


Executive Chef James Noble and his team have spent months perfecting each dish, deconstructing the component parts and building each one again from scratch. And one of the first ones that they looked at was a dish that everyone knows and loves – pad Thai. This classic recipe brings together so many delicious flavours that we all associate with Thailand. Rice noodles, tofu, egg, a sweet but tangy and sour sauce, crunchy bean sprouts and peanuts, and fresh and dried shrimp all combine to make an entrée few can resist.


It’s a traditional Thai dish that has been prepared in the Kingdom for centuries. However, it was made popular as a national signature dish by Luang Phibunsongkhram when he was prime minister during the 1930s and 1940s. It was an element of his campaign focused on Thai nationalism and centralization and part of his plan to reduce rice consumption in Thailand.


Re-designing such a famous recipe isn’t something to be taken lightly. And James and his team looked at all the classic ingredients in pad Thai and began experimenting with them to find ways that not only brought out the intense flavours but that would also bring an instant ‘Wow’ factor on presentation. Unlike the usual way of serving the dish, with most of the ingredients thrown together and stir-fried, they wanted to highlight each component on the plate. And when a little of each is put together on a spoon and eaten the pronounced flavours combine and explode in the mouth.


They started by combining hard and soft tofu with cream and egg yolks and folded in fresh prawns and baked it in the oven. It has the appearance and texture of a cheesecake but is savoury instead of sweet and it forms the foundation of the dish. This first step took them ten days to perfect to their satisfaction. Then they incorporated chopped and roasted peanuts in a roux (butter and flour) to go on the bottom of the cheesecake. And by dehydrating and blending small prawns they created a pink powder that the cheesecake was rolled in giving the base dish a familiar flavour.


For the glass noodles they took an innovative approach and deep-fried them and then hung them up to dry together. This would give a slightly crunchy texture to the dish and also give height as the noodles are placed on top of the cheesecake vertically. Their next step was to introduce another egg element as well as sugar and tamarind juice. The eggs were placed in a sous-vide bag and slow-cooked in a water bath. They were then whisked with oil and a sugar and tamarind reduction added to make a brown mayonnaise-like sauce giving a sharpness that cuts through the cheesecake.


Next they worked on how to add the fish sauce; nam pla is an essential ingredient in Thai cooking. And they used molecular gastronomy techniques that resulted in what is best described as fish sauce caviar or ‘nam pla pearls’. It’s a delicate operation to get right and alginic acid, also known as algin or alginate, is used to achieve sphereification. In this case, drops of fish sauce are encapsulated in tiny bubbles that burst on the tongue when consumed. They should be eaten with the other components and not as individual items, the flavour eaten alone would be too powerful. A bean sprout and banana bud salad is added to the side of the plate with a cooked tiger prawn and a carved slice of cucumber in the shape of a leaf completes the garnish.


Now all the ingredients are together on the plate: tofu, egg, dried shrimp, sugar, tamarind, peanuts, glass noodles, fish sauce, bean sprouts and fresh prawns. But they’re presented in a way that will make you look twice, at least. Nothing is as it seems and yet with the first combined bite your senses will register all the aromas, textures and flavours and recognition will finally dawn. One part of your brain will be telling you it looks like a cheesecake – with fish. And another part will be going no, no, no, its pad Thai – you fool. You just need to be prepared to be surprised. And, without a doubt, be delighted with every spoonful.


You would have to be a very experienced chef to even attempt to re-create the dishes here but James and his team are more than happy to give you some pointers. And even if you succeed in just one part of it, the experience could transform how you think about preparing and presenting your cuisine at your next dinner party.


There’re several ways to get to Twisted Thai. You can take a stroll along the beach on Chaweng Noi; it’s a separate bay before the southern end of Chaweng. Or you can get to it through the Imperial Samui Beach Resort. Once you’ve parked up there you can either take a walk through the resort or better still take one of the chauffeur-driven buggies down the winding hill path which drops you off at a little wooden bridge spanning a river and the restaurant is just on the other side.

 


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