While I haven’t been to Thailand (yet), to try the spa cuisine of Chiva-Som, luxury health resort based in Hua Hi, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the kitchen of Sydney’s Bathers’ Pavilion with Chef Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat, when he visited Australia a couple of months back. And, I was delighted by the ‘healthy harmony’ of his fresh and innovative cuisine.
I was surprised to learn that the Chiva-Som spa cuisine also includes considerations of colour and other therapies with dishes that are not only healthy, detoxifying and low in calories, but also imaginative and full of flavour. In fact, no salt, sugar or oil is used in the cooking process and instead, fresh herbs and spices are used to enhance the natural flavours in the ingredients. The following recipe is generously provided from Paisarn’s cookbook ‘Thai Spa Cuisine’.
“Gaeng Karee Kung” (Rock lobster curry)
Nutrients Per Serving Kilocalories 438.37 kcal Protein 23.58 g Carbohydrate 54.53 g Fat, Total 16.25 g
6 dried red chillies, seeded and soaked in water until soft
2cm piece galangal, peeled and sliced
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
4 cardamom pods
2 medium shallots
3 garlic cloves
Using a pestle and mortar, gradually add each ingredient in the order listed, pound each ingredient from hard and dried to soft and wet before adding the next. R, using a blender, add little by little of each ingredient. To soften, add a little water or soy sauce. Blend until pureed.
Rock lobster curry
250ml coconut milk
80m curry paste
10 tbsp miso paste
40g grated palm sugar
2 tbsp tamarind juice
1l vegetable stock
400g potatoes cut into 2 cm (1 inch) cubes and boiled for 8 minutes
200g onion, cut into 2 cm (1 inch) cubes
320g rock lobster, shelled and sliced
80g shallots, quartered, to garnish
2 tbsp sliced red chillies, to garnish
2 tbsp sliced ad toasted shallots, to garnish
Pour half the coconut milk into a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in curry paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until mixture is fragrant and thoroughly blended. Add miso paste and palm sugar and mix well. Add tamarind juice, vegetable stock and remaining coconut milk and bring back to a boil. Then add cooked potato and onion reduce the heat and simmer for several minutes. Add rock lobster and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Garnish with shallot quarters, red chillies and toasted shallots and serve.
I also want to share with you, just how glowing, positive and happy Chef Paisarn was when I met him. Perhaps, at least in part due to the positive spa environment in which he works. I believe, food cooked with love and happiness,and not just nutrition, is also integral to my wellbeing. And, I believe, you’ll get all of the above, when you stay at Chiva-Som.