Owen Lightly Scores The First Taste Of “Maenam” On West 4th

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Angus An (at left) is on the verge of opening "Maenam", the Thai restaurant replacing Gastropod at 1938 West 4th

by Owen Lightly – Some time next week, Maenam will open in the former Gastropod space on West 4th Avenue. Chef and owner Angus An’s focus is shifting from fine dining to authentic Thai. The original plan was to find a second location for his Thai venture, but after seeing business slowly decline over the past year and with a bleak forecast for the coming months in the high-end market, An decided to pull the plug on the “pod” for the time being. Gastropod will live on in the catering and private-dining realm though, with an eye to re-opening at a new location in the future (watch An explaining the move below).

Angus’ love of Thai cuisine was solidified while training at Europe’s only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, Nahm in London, where he worked under renowned Chef David Thomson. It was also there that he met his future wife Kate, a Thai native, who has had a major hand in the development of the Maenam menu.

I was first exposed to Angus’ Thai cooking while working as a cook at Gastropod. Every couple of weeks, he would make a Thai dish for the staff meal and it was always highly anticipated. When I first tasted his red curry, I thought to myself, if this is real Thai food, what have I been eating all these years? I stopped by Maenam earlier this week to see how things were progressing and to taste a few of the new menu items. While preparing the dishes, Angus told me the key to Thai cuisine was the balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. These flavours are layered on top of each other, in sometimes shocking quantities, until harmony is met. Using a number of different chilies, fish sauce, tamarind, palm sugar, herbs and citrus, the dishes are more flavour-based than technique based. Thai family recipes might not have measurements, quantities or times. Instead, they just say aromatic, sour, and a little salty. Angus agreed to share a few recipes from the new menu, starting with this delicious lobster salad. If you have any troubles finding any of the ingredients, feel free to email Angus (angusan1@gmail.com) and pick his brain as to where to find them. Stay tuned for more recipes.

Yam Gung Mangkorn

Lobster salad with Chilli Jam | Serves 4

What You’ll Need

dsc_000912 x 1 pound Atlantic Lobsters Vinegar Water 200 ml coconut milk 1 cup of chilli jam Lobster tomalley (soft green substance found in the body cavity of lobsters) 3 tablespoons of palm sugar 2 tablespoons of tamarind water Fish sauce if needed Handful of Thai basil 5-6 longons or lychees Squeeze of Mandarin Juice 1 tablespoons of thickened coconut cream Large pinch of deep fried shallots Pinch of kaffir lime leaf chiffonade

How To Make It

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Cook the lobster for 8 minutes in boiling water with a splash of white vinegar (helps coagulate proteins) and cool. Remove the claws and crack to remove meat. Split the body in half lengthwise with a chefs knife and remove the tomalley. Keep the tail meat in the shell for presentation. Slice claw and knuckle meat. Gently toast lobster tomalley in a pan with a little oil until foaming. Add the coconut milk and the chilli jam. Season with palm sugar, tamarind water and fish sauce. The taste should be sweet, rich, sour, salty, and a little hot at the end. Warm up the dressing, adding coconut cream to loosen and finish with a squeeze of mandarin juice. Toss with lobster meat, Thai basil, longon fruit, fried shallots and lime leaf chiffonade. To plate, put the lobster tail down first and mound the rest of the salad on top. Finish with more fried shallots.

The End Result

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——————————————————————- Owen Lightly is a boy from a small island in the Gulf of Georgia. After attending cooking school, he moved to Vancouver in 2002 to start a career in the restaurant “biz”. His website, Butter On the Endive, was created for sharing and caring. ——————————————————————-

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    I can’t wait to try everything! Congratulations Angus!