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Passion for Thai cuisine

Gisborne social media users have experienced a new flavour lately in Nalinee Boonsom’s Thai cooking exposés and advice. Kim Parkinson got in touch for a personal demonstration.

Nalinee Boonsom is passionate about Thai food and culture and has started sharing her love for cooking authentic Thai food with the Gisborne community.

People will bring fresh ingredients like crayfish and paua to her home and she will show them how to cook it the Thai way.

She was born in a city not far from Bangkok and remembers her grandmother cooking for the family the old-fashioned way — over hot coals.

She moved to New Zealand’s South Island and started her life here working on a vineyard in Cromwell. This was where she met her partner, Gisborne-born Kevin Melville. They settled in Gisborne in 2013 and now have three young girls.

The beauty of noodles and riceNalinee is enthusiastic about helping people learn to cook Thai food on a budget that will feed big families — and this is where noodles and rice are great, she says.

“They pad out the dish and make it filling.”

Social media followingMs Boonsom started posting her food on a community social media site Gisborne Pre-Loved and is fast building up a following.

The day I visited she showed me how to make the perfect Pad Thai.

The art is in getting the balance right between sweet and sour, she says.

Pad ThaiPrep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 11 mins

Author: Seonkyoung Longest.


8 oz semi-fresh rice noodles or 4 oz of dried rice noodles

Half a boneless chicken breast, sliced thinly

3-4 oz large/jumbo prawns peeled and deveined

3 oz pressed, fried or extra-firm tofu (if you are using extra-firm tofu, wrap with paper towel to get rid of excess moisture)

Half a shallot (or a spring onion)

2 oz Thai preserved sweet radish (approx 2 Tbs)

2 oz garlic chives or 3 green onions plus more to garnish

4 oz bean sprouts, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup of roasted peanuts plus more for garnish

2 eggs

3 Tbs cooking oil, plus more if needed

Lime wedges

Chilli flakes

For the sauce:

3 Tbs fish sauce

2 Tbs palm sugar (or you can use regular sugar)

1 tsp tamarind concentrate

1/4 cup of cold water, plus more if needed

1 to 2 tsp Thai sriracha or dried Thai chilli (optional)


1. Soak dried rice noodles in warm water for 10-15 minutes until soft, then drain completely. If you are using semi-fresh ones, skip this process.

2. Chop shallot and preserved sweet radish finely. Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces and chives into 2 inch-long pieces.

Chop roasted peanuts finely.

Set all vegetables to the side.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for sauce and mix well until tamarind and sugar have dissolved.

4. Heat a wok or fry pan over a high heat and add 1 Tbs of cooking oil; add sliced chicken and prawns and cook until they are golden on the edges — about a minute each side. Remove from wok and set aside.

5. In the same wok add 1 Tbs cooking oil, add tofu and cook for 1-2 mins or until edges are golden. If you are using extra-firm tofu, cook a little longer.

6. Add chopped shallot and radish. Stir-fry everything together for about 1-2 mins. Add noodles and sauce made earlier. Stir-fry until noodles absorb sauce completely and there is no more liquid on the bottom of the wok — about 2-3 mins. If your noodles are cooking slowly, add more water, about 2 Tbs at a time. If your noodles are sticking together add 1 Tbs of oil at a time.

7. Push everything to the side of wok to make room for the eggs. Add a bit more oil and crack 2 eggs into wok. Don’t scramble yet — let them cook halfway through. Then break yolks and start to scramble; that way you’ll have nice egg bites. Mix scrambled eggs and noodles together by tossing and stirring.

8. Add bean sprouts, garlic chives, peanuts, chilli and prawns. Toss everything together for about a minute.

Remove from heat and transfer to serving plate.

9. Garnish with extra fresh bean sprouts, garlic chives, chopped peanuts, dried Thai chilli power and lime. Enjoy!


Beautifully-presented Pad Thai will tantalise the taste buds and promises to deliver the perfect balance of sweet and sour flavours. Pictures by Paul Rickard
Nalinee Boonsom demonstrates how to make a tasty Pad Thai at her home kitchen using skills she learned from her grandmother in her native Thailand.
Some of the ingredients used in Pad Thai include eggs, fish sauce, tofu, chicken and prawns, concentrated tamarind and bean sprouts. Nalinee says there are several ingredients that are commonplace in many Thai dishes, so it is good to stock up on things like fish sauce, palm sugar and noodles so you can make a selection of Thai dishes.