Welcome back to our Mother’s Day recipe series, where five Hong Kong chefs share their moments with mum as well as simple and nostalgic dishes that make them think of her. Today we asked Thai chef Narisara Somboon of ChaChaWan what her mum taught her.
Was it your mum who inspired your love of cooking?
My mother is an amazing chef and definitely a big inspiration for my love of cooking. I would always watch her and start helping her in the kitchen from a very young age.
What are your earliest memories of cooking?
One of my earliest memories was picking all the herbs and ingredients in our backyard. We used to grow vegetables and fruits in the little garden that we have in front of our house in Thailand, and my mother used them for all kinds of cooking.
ChaChaWan Thai food spread
What was your favourite dish cooked by your mother?
My mother used to always make fresh papaya salad for us, but as a child, it was too spicy for me and I didn’t like it. We were able to pick papayas, tomatoes, and chillies from our garden. Now it’s one of my favourite dishes, and I can eat papaya salad every day.
What’s the best cooking advice you got from her?
My mum is my mentor for cooking, she inspired me in every way and I learned everything from her. One thing that she always asked me to do is to clean up while I was cooking, she was very particular about being clean and tidy.
If you could take your mother out for Mother’s Day in Hong Kong, where would you take her?
I would take her to have dim sum! When she travels, she always wants to try local food, and get to know more about the culture there.
Narisara Somboon of ChaChaWan
Can you share a memory of your Mum with us?
This is one of my favourite photos with my mother, as it was the first time we visited Singapore together. I can’t wait to be able to see her again and travel with her!
Can you tell us more about the recipe you're sharing?
In the regions of Northern Thailand, such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai which usually have a cooler climate, red cotton flowers are the best to be harvested, especially from March to May. You can enjoy them simply; deep-fried and dipped in Thai chilli sauce. My mother loves to use this ingredient because it is very rich in calcium. That’s why I introduced this ingredient into ChaChaWan’s menu. It's a hearty bowl of rice noodles mixed with spicy pork, tomato broth, and dried red cotton flowers.
Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiao (Rice noodles with spicy pork tomato broth and dried red cotton flowers)
2tbsp chilli bean paste
4pcs cherry tomato
50g red cotton flower (soak in water for 24 hours in advance)
4-5pcs fermented soya bean paste
150-200g pork ribs meat
1tbsp minced pork
1tbsp fish sauce
1tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp tamarind paste
½ tbsp sugar
600ml chicken stock
4-5pcs dried chilli
50g bean sprouts
100g rice noodles
- Put a big spoon of oil in a pot, followed by chilli bean paste, pork ribs, and fermented soya bean paste. Pour in the chicken stock, red cotton flower, and simmer until they become tender.
- Add the sugar, tamarind sauce, soya sauce, and fish sauce. Stir well.
- Boil for 45 minutes to allow the ribs to become soft and absorb all the flavours from the other ingredients and seasoning.
- Then add the cherry tomatoes to the pork soup and let it boil for four to five minutes.
- Add the minced pork and simmer for five minutes.
- Pour the mixed curry on the rice noodles.
- Finish with dried chilli, coriander, and bean sprouts.
For more Mother’s Day recipes, check out the Shanghai rice cakes recipe by chef Tiffany Lo of Jean May.