Chef Kim Alter on why she loves Kao Mun Gai at Hawker Fare in Oakland, CA.
[MUSIC] Hi. My name's Kim Alter. I'm the chef over at Plum Restaurant in Oakland, California. [BLANK_AUDIO] I'm at Hawker Fare, about to trying some of James' Kao Mun Gai. It's just steamed rice, poached chicken, with fermented mung bean sauce and cucumbers. I come and get coffees for my whole staff and I'll get a order of the [UNKNOWN] for me and bring it back over to Plum which is only like two blocks away. So I kind of probably came here two times last week. It's kind of sad. But, I crave it a lot. I know James through Manisa. He was the chef de cuisine when I was there. We have just kind of stayed friends since then. [UNKNOWN] cow's rice, one is diced chicken. So it's like chicken fried rice. Kind of national Thai dish. What I grew up on, so it's usually a one pot dish but [UNKNOWN] it's kind of our interpretation. Using my technique It's where it doesn't somewhat bastardize the dish. Yeah. And if anything, it makes it better. [MUSIC] We use only the white meat, so just the breast. We poach it sous vide, in the bag. How does your mom feel about this dish? She had it and she was shocked that, she was trying to wrap her head around my cooking [MUSIC] Chicken in a plastic bag. Yea. [LAUGH] We use 2 different types of rice. Jasmine, and then you have a sticky rice. We polish it with water, no rubber to your hands. And then we add a couple slices of [UNKNOWN], stalks of lemon grass, and then add a chicken stock. And then we steam it, and we fluff it with Smaltz. It seems like it's a simple when you're eating it. But you hae so many steps in the process to make it happen. Yeah, there's a lot of [UNKNOWN] in the dish. Then on to the sauce. A big part of the sauce is actually a soybean base. It's fermented in the style of a [UNKNOWN]. But it's not as [UNKNOWN], it's not as sweet. It's more savory. You base it all on what you like to taste, not Yeah just going off taste memories on how my mom made it, how sweet, how spicy she made it, how pungent. Did you work with your mom? Yeah I cooked with my mom when she had this restaurant, seven years probably [UNKNOWN] Yeah it was a learning experience for sure. [LAUGH] She freaks out when she goes [UNKNOWN] and sees how much stuff [UNKNOWN] weighs. Yeah. Yeah, it's just the way it is. It's just different. It's the way we cook. This dish is very strong, whoever makes it. Do you ever get people coming in here and And voicing their opinions on that authenticity, cuz you're putting your own spin on everything. Like, making your chicken sous vide, or whatever. Yeah, it's more often to see thing. You know, I don't know who's the judge. But as long as it takes good, and you're paying homage to what the dish is supposed to be. And expect a nice I think that's the best I can do. I'm not trying to be the ambassador. [LAUGH] And then the fried egg in wine. Sometimes I go for the fried egg, sometimes not. I had a couple of drinks last night. I could be down for a fried egg. all right, we'll do fried eggs. Thai people are really particular about [UNKNOWN] fried eggs. Yeah? It's frying in a lot of oil, and you want the crust. Yeah. You'll still want the top to be, like, rare. Looks pretty perfect. [MUSIC] [SOUND] Knowing James's background Ground, and then knowing like what is going into it. And then watching him just make the sauce, and seeing like the level of technique that's going into the rice, the chicken. It really just makes you appreciate this, but at the same time it's not going to like hit you over the head and be pretentious. It's just something that seems simple. I put a lot of work, effort, and time has gone into it. When you think today's like [UNKNOWN]. [MUSIC] Very young. [MUSIC]