Popcorn has over the years evolved from a run-of-the-mill snack to gourmet delicacy. It is now offered with imaginative flavours — savoury and sweet. Fine restaurants in big cities wordwide even use popcorn to give to dishes a creative twist.
In Thailand, the puffed-up kernels of indigenous corn have served as an artisanal local nibble for centuries.
But it wasn’t until the arrival of machine-produced American-style popcorn later on that the snack was massively marketed. Ever since, popcorn and moviegoers have become inseparable.
The popularity of popcorn in recent years has gone beyond its box office territory to Thai households. Various renditions of flavoured popcorns are concocted by bakeries and dessert cafes to provide popcorn lovers an at-home culinary indulgence.
Ging Grai, a Chiang Mai-based restaurant brand, has now come up with a series of flavoured popcorns inspired by distinctive taste profiles of regional Thai cuisine.
A new venture by the proprietor of award-winning Supanniga Eating Room and Michelin-rated Somtum Der in New York, Ging Grai restaurant serves up home-style Thai dishes prepared with time-honoured recipes from the North, Northeast, Central Plain and East Coast regions of Thailand.
During the countrywide Covid-19 lockdown, the brand has focused on developing its online marketing channel.
The popcorn, approved by the national Food and Drug Administration, is its flagship e-commerce product available through its website gingrai.com. It features one-of-a-kind flavour options including gaeng pa (jungle curry), nam phrik phao (sweet roasted chilli paste), Isan-style larb (sour and spicy herbal salad) and northern-style larb.
Representing the cuisine of the Central Plain, gaeng pa is a fiery jungle curry cooked without coconut milk but lots of aromatic herbs and vegetables. This flavour option, which I liked very much, brilliantly unifies the buttery and caramelised characteristic of the Western snack with a deep-heat tang of Thai curry infused with 10 types of herbs including fingerroot, cardamom, basil and black pepper.
Ging Grai’s nam phrik phao popcorn showcases a family recipe, a native of Thailand’s East Coast province of Trat.
The savoury sweet roasted chilli paste is prepared with dried shrimp, toasted red chillies, shallots, pork crackling, palm sugar and premium fish sauce, which, when glazed on the air-popped corn kernels, gives a good caramelisation.
I found the larb popcorn, both Isan-style and northern-style, nicely portrayed the authenticity of the herb-packed salad.
The Isan version is a delicious depiction of roasted ground rice, lime juice, chilli, mint and sawtooth coriander. The northern style promises to charm you with a citrusy aromatic touch of mak kwen, the peppercorn-like prickly ash, a typical indigenous spice of the region.
Ging Grai also has a variety of chilli relishes, artisanal tea and woven handicrafts on offer from its online shop.
Ging Grai Thai restaurant is at 18 Nimmanhemin 11, Muang district, Chiang Mai. For more information, visit ginggrai.com or Line: @ginggrai.Internet Explorer Channel Network