While doing their part to maintain social distance, home cooks everywhere are honing their skills in the kitchen. Feast consulted with some of St. Louis' finest chefs and business owners for their best advice on how to make easy, wholesome meals using simple pantry staples. Find out how to make the most of your groceries in this Q&A series, which outlines some pro tips for creating nutritious and comforting from-scratch meals, snacks and more.
Shayn Prapaisilp is the vice president of Global Foods Group, which oversees King & I, Oishi Sushi, Oishi Steakhouse, Chao Baan, United Provisions and Global Foods Market in the St. Louis area. The grocery stores are operating regularly and are open daily. Oishi Sushi and Oishi Steakhouse are open for dine-in and carryout, while King & I and Chao Baan are open for delivery and carryout only.
If you had to choose some staples from your stores to stock your pantry with, what would they be? Obviously, I am very passionate about Thai food. Fish sauce and coconut have rightfully gotten so popular over the years that you can start to find them outside Asian markets. A less known Thai ingredient that I think will start having its day in the sun is Golden Mountain seasoning. I would describe it as similar but different from soy sauce. I use it to marinate meats, season soups and even as a dipping sauce. It's a very versatile sauce.
I've been eating and cooking a lot of Korean food and I always have some ssamjang, which is a milder cousin to the spicier gojuchang sauce. I put fried garlic on everything I eat. Global Foods and United Provisions sell pre-fried chopped garlic, so you don't have to do it yourself and have your house smell like garlic forever. Also, cold weather means hot pot weather to me, so I like to keep a few packets of Little Sheep's spicy hot pot kits.
What are some ingredients and/or techniques used in Thai cooking that home cooks can use to take their meals to the next level? Sticky rice is one of the most frequently ordered side dishes at our restaurants and people assume it's very difficult to make. The truth is that it's rather straightforward to make if you have the right equipment. At Global Foods, we sell a sticky rice bamboo steamer that can be used on any stove. There are even recipes out there now where you can make it in an Instant Pot!
The traditional method involves rinsing the rice, putting it in the bamboo basket and then heating water in the pot below so that it steams the rice. When you purchase rice, make sure you buy the glutinous kind, or else it won't stick. I personally like the Three Ladies brand of glutinous rice. Mango sticky rice is the most well-known dessert using sticky rice, but I also like to dip sticky rice with spicy Thai pastes called jaew.
What are some of your favorite drinks or snacks that are available at your stores? I would say our two most popular items at the moment are boba tea popsicles and BTS iced coffee. The boba tea popsicles are delicious and taste just like the drink! I've always loved strong, tart and funky flavors so I've been drinking a lot of orange and natural wines. Lioco and Caleb Leisure are some of my favorite producers.
Can you share a recipe for a snack or meal idea that incorporates some of the ideas you've discussed? Use your Crockpot! Khao tom, which translates to rice soup, is one of the most comforting meals. Add chicken stock and rice to your Crockpot and then cook it low and slow all day, and you will have a warming cup of rice porridge at the end of the evening. Khao tom is such a versatile dish that really pairs well with anything. I prefer mine with more traditional Asian toppings such as pickled mustard greens, ginger and thousand-year-old eggs, but you really can't go wrong! I've known people to add everything from hard-boiled eggs to pepperoni.