Only one contender will be crowned “Chef Artois” after this Royal Thai cook-off
“Chef Artois” is a new culinary miniseries that’s inviting diners to support Toronto’s restaurants. On this show, top chefs won’t be doing the cooking, though. Instead, diners are donning aprons and letting chefs judge their culinary skills. This episode, hosted by Pay Chen, takes us to Kiin, an authentic Thai restaurant that gives diners the royal treatment.
Kiin—which means “eat” in Thai—is a feast for the eyes: golden accents, opulent marble floors and lush tropical foliage combine to give this restaurant the air of Bangkok’s Grand Palace. It’s not just the space that feels noble, but the food also boasts a royal pedigree. Kiin specializes in Royal Thai cuisine, a cooking style known for its elaborate and artfully plated dishes that were once reserved for Thai sovereigns.
Chef-owner Nuit Regular has revitalised these ancient aristocratic recipes, which are all about precision and presentation. At Kiin, each plate is a work of art that you first eat with your eyes before biting into a depth of Thai flavours. Today, Regular will be challenging two home cooks—Armita Hosseini and Narida Mohammed—to make one of her signature dishes: thoong thong.
Thoong thong (or “golden bags”) are deep-fried dumplings stuffed with chicken and shrimp served atop a cucumber pedestal. These aren’t your standard savoury pockets, though. Royal Thai cuisine demands a visual spectacle. Every dish must be both dazzling and delicious. The home cooks need to ensure that these one-bite morsels are impeccably crimped and perfectly tied with chive strands, and they also must ensure the seasoning is on point.
The care and precision of assembling each thoong thong dumpling resembles the art of brewing: bringing together ingredients with mastered technique in the pursuit of balanced flavour and texture. The gentle golden fry of the dumpling aligns with the golden colour and malt sweetness of the lager, accentuating the fragrant Royal Thai aromatics. While the chive, cucumber and herbs bridge with the signature floral hop character of Stella Artois.
With 60 minutes on the clock, contestants Hosseini and Mohammed step up to the chopping block and the dumpling duel begins. Who will triumph and be crowned the next Chef Artois?
“Chef Artois” is a new limited series created in support of Toronto’s top restaurants. On this bite-sized cooking show—episodes are a satisfying 12 minutes long—the city’s chefs aren’t doing the cooking. Instead, diners are donning aprons and letting chefs judge their culinary chops.
The series was created in support of Rally for Restaurants, an initiative founded by Stella Artois to help support the restaurant industry as it rebuilds in the wake of the pandemic. In each weekly episode, two Torontonians will step inside the kitchen of a Toronto restaurant to compete for the title of Chef Artois and win a $1,000 prize pack.
How to make Kiin’s Thoong Thong
Makes 30 dumplings
- 11 white peppercorns
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 cilantro roots with three-inch stems attached (about 10-15 stems total), thoroughly washed and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon thin soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 medium chicken breast (250 grams), roughly minced
- 8 medium shrimps, peeled, deveined, and coarsely minced
- 4 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cups water
- 1 bundle chives
- 1 package medium-size spring roll wrappers
- 1 litre canola oil, for deep frying
- 2 English Cucumbers
- 2 cups sweet chili sauce
- Using a stone mortar and pestle, grind the white peppercorns to a fine powder. Add the cilantro roots and garlic and grind to a paste. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add thin soy sauce and oyster sauce to the coriander-garlic paste and mix to combine.
- Add the chicken, shrimp, and water chestnuts to the coriander-garlic paste and mix with a large spoon until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over a high heat. When the water is boiling, add the chives and blanch for 10 seconds. Drain, rinse with cold water, wrap in a kitchen towel, and squeeze out excess water from the top to the bottom, making sure to keep them intact. Ensuring that all the water is squeezed out will prevent the chives from getting brittle when you deep-fry them. Lay the chives on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Cut the spring roll wrappers into five-inch circles. Cover with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out as you wrap the dumplings.
- Lay a spring roll wrapper on a work surface. Use a spoon to scoop about two tablespoons of the filling onto the middle of the wrapper. Lift one side of the wrapper at a time, pinching with your index finger and thumb to pleat a little bit of the wrapper at a time to make the bag as tight as possible, until all the edges meet each other at the top. Wrap a chive twice around the gathered part of the wrapper, making sure to leave enough chive at each end to tie a tight double knot. Make sure the knot is tight to prevent the bag from exploding when it is deep-fried. Repeat until all the golden bags are made.
- Heat the canola oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, working in batches of no more than 10 golden bags, use a slotted spoon to carefully drop the golden bags, one at a time, into the oil. Deep-fry until golden brown, five to six minutes.
- Use the slotted spoon to transfer the golden bags to a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat until all the golden bags have been deep-fried.
- Using a julienne peeler, peel the cucumbers to create decorative ridges. Cut the cucumbers into one-inch slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out the center of each cucumber slice to create a little cup to hold the sauce, enough to hold one teaspoon of sauce.
- Place a teaspoon of sweet chili sauce into the center of each cucumber slice. Carefully place a golden bag on top of each cucumber slice and serve.