What takes a delicious, authentic Thai dish to the next level? Hint: it's all about the sauce.
A delicate, lip-smacking combination of sweetness, sour and spice can transform a simple meal from 'meh' to mind-blowing. But let's face it, few of us have the gastronomic know-how to produce such flavour bombs. Enter Lek Lek Ban, the latest offering from the award-winning Chef Roong of Finesse Catering Group, who is heating up kitchens across The Ninch and allowing you to recreate the flavours of Southeast Asia at home.
With years of culinary success under her belt, Chef Roong's new range is all about flavour that packs a punch. Having received countless requests for her recipes over the years, she's now created a mouth-watering line of condiments inspired by her grassroots upbringing in Eastern Thailand.
The sauces are a nod to the kaleidoscopic flavours of traditional Thai cuisine and are designed to be added at the end of the cooking process. You can toss them through the pan just before plating or serve them as a side to be dipped and scooped to your heart's content.
There are three standout flavours: an authentic Sweet Chilli Sauce, a zingy Ginger Nam Pla Dressing, and a soon-to-be cult classic, Coconut & Chilli Crunch. Everything is made from scratch; the chilli, shallots and garlic are all hand-sliced and fried individually. It's an eye-watering, time-consuming task that illustrates Roong's dedication and commitment to quality.
When asked about the level of heat to expect, Roong laughs, "The sauces are a little bit kick-ass, but they're not too spicy".
Sweet Chilli Sauce
First up is the Sweet Chilli Sauce – which is incomparable to the supermarket substitutes. "Sweet Chilli became a pub favourite, but it lost its way, and people kinda forgot its roots", says Roong's husband, business partner and fellow chef, Brad. Roong's traditional take is an addictive combination of caramelised garlic, onion, chilli, coriander and pickled daikon – making it vegan and gluten-free. Serve with fresh and crunchy spring rolls, a fruity IPA or a low alcohol crisp white, such as Riesling or Pinot Gris, or your favourite gin cocktail.
Ginger Nam Pla Dressing
Next up is the Ginger Nam Pla Dressing, which is good enough to drink by all accounts. Roong replies with a devilish smile when pressed for the secret ingredients: "blood, sweat, tears and fish sauce". Actually, it's a careful balancing act of ginger, garlic, citrus, chilli, palm sugar and high-grade fish sauce, which gives it a lush mouthfeel and makes it more than a little addictive. It's designed to be drizzled over a green salad, poured over grilled fish or chicken or served with rice for a quick and tasty meal.
Coconut & Chilli Crunch
The piece de resistance is the Coconut & Chilli Crunch. It's a messy, vibrant, textured chilli oil, a taste sensation packing a decent amount of heat. It's designed to be dolloped on street-food-style snacks, though you can – and should – eat it with a spoon. Crispy shallots and garlic pieces give the sauce a rich, umami flavour, and the tantalising aroma comes from kaffir lime leaves and toasted coconut. The bright red, hand-sliced chilli provides the sauce with just the right amount of bite. Honestly, the Coconut & Chilli Crunch is in a league all of its own.
So, where can heat-seekers find these saucy delights? Chef Roong and the Lek Lek Ban crew are currently delivering Peninsula wide and will soon be stocking the shelves of local food stores, bringing sass, spice, and soul to your kitchen at home. You can shop their three sauces online here!
And if you're planning a kick-ass celebration, then you're in luck! Lek Lek Ban has just launched a street food catering menu that will make your event worth remembering. Keep your eyes peeled for Lek Lek Ban's official launch party and their upcoming culinary pop-ups hosted by Chef Roong, coming soon to The Ninch.