Meet Andara Phuket’s Resident Rice Expert
We interviewed Chef Miguel Cirne, from Portugal. He’s the western chef at Silk Restaurant, Andara Resort and Villas in Phuket on this month’s theme: Rice!
Can you please introduce yourself?
I grew up in Porto, a beautiful city in Portugal. I have a degree in Culinary Arts and Kitchen Management with certification from École Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland and the School of Hospitality and Tourism in Portugal. Previously, I worked with famous chefs at top hotels in Macau and Portugal, including the Hotel Campo Real-Westin, Portugal’s award winning luxury conference hotel, in Lisbon. I have been working as a chef and gastronomic consultant in Phuket since 2012. I always had a goal to come to Asia to work and live. Then I fell in love with someone already based here, so the main reason I came here was love.
Was rice traditionally part of your daily meal?
Yes. In Portugal, rice or arroz, is part of the daily diet, a habit that I continue here in Thailand. Rice cultivation is important in several regions of my country and is responsible for the way the beautiful scenery transforms with the seasons.
What kind of rice do you serve at Silk Restaurant?
We serve jasmine rice for classic Thai dishes. We also serve brown rice, kao kong. In the Western kitchen I often use wild rice and Arbório rice for risotto. We buy our rice directly from the distributor. The arboreal rice for risotto is imported from northern Italy and the jasmine rice comes directly from the farmers in Suphan Buri, the richest rice plantation in all of Thailand.
Does Andara Resort offer cooking workshops?
Andara Resort and Villas has Thai cooking workshops. The executive chef that gives the classes, Supreeda Ooy, has a lot of knowledge and gets our guests involved in the gastronomic history of Thailand, which curiously still has a massive Portuguese influence after 500 years of Phuket’s Sino-Portuguese heritage.
What is your secret for preparing rice?
In the Western kitchen I always have a good vegetable or meat broth ready. In our Thai kitchen, we always use the mao hung kao (rice cooker). It cooks the rice perfectly each time, preserves the flavor and keeps it warm for hours. It is very simple for all varieties of rice: two parts water to one part rice. The ideal ratio is indisputable.
The most important variety is basmati rice, the most appreciated by gourmets due to its incomparable fragrance and white grain. Other long grain varieties include Thai jasmine, similar to basmati but with a more delicate flavor. I also like to mention wild rice. It is actually an aquatic plant that grows in the lakes of North America. The grains are dark in color, have a nutty flavor and are thinner than long grain rice. This rice requires prolonged cooking and is ideal for mixing with basmati rice for salads or in fillings for meat.
Do you know of any urban legends about rice?
“You shouldn’t throw rice at weddings. Birds will come and eat the grains. White rice, being dehydrated will immediately begin absorbing water upon entering the moisture of the bird’s body. It will then swell and if there are enough grains, the bird’s body will burst, killing the poor critter.” No truth in it at all.
Guests can taste Miguel’s rice dishes during a fine dining experience at Silk Restaurant in Phuket. For bookings or more information, please contact us via the form below.