Thai Food, Paleo Style – A Morning with Chef Tao and Nutritionist Erika Doolan at Saba
If I told you that you could have a green curry laden with juicy prawns, or a char-grilled sirloin steak smothered in a red curry sauce for dinner tonight and that your healthy New Year resolutions would remain untarnished, you might find me hard to believe. Though that is exactly what Saba Restaurant is promising with the launch of their Paleo diet inspired Caveman Menu.
To celebrate the start of the Caveman Festival at Saba, running until January 29th, Saba hosted a unique ‘Caveman Cookery Class’ at the restaurant to show how the fusion on Thai and Paleo food is a match made in diet heaven. On arrival guests were greeted by Saba owner Paul Cadden, who explained as we slurped on healthy smoothies how their new Paleo menu has been designed to provide the tastiest and exciting healthy food around.
Spearheaded by Executive Chef Taweesak Trakoolwattana and Nutritionist Erika Doolan the menu takes inspiration from classic Saba dishes but adds a healthy a stone age twist. “Thai and Vietnamese food is naturally healthy with fresh herbs and ingredients and the Paleo menu is an extension of that, tweaking the dishes but not compromising on the taste” Paul explained.
Erika firstly talked us through the bones of the Paleo diet, explaining the science behind all the media hype. She described how a Paleo diet mimics the eating habits of our ancestors, and consists of health-giving foods which are assumed to have been available during the Paleolithic era. By avoiding dairy, grains, legumes and processed foods the diet promises to work with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic.
If the attendees were worried about what they could not eat on the diet, the long table at the restaurant laden with a dazzling display of colourful vegetables, fresh meats and seafood, herbs and spices was sure to ease their anxieties. That’s where Chef Tao stepped in tutoring us on key Thai and Vietnamese ingredients like kaffir lime leaves, Thai sweet basil and coconut milk, that bring that authentic flavour to a dish as well health promoting properties.
Then, in the flash of a pan Tao combined coconut oil, curry paste and coconut milk to create a red curry sauce, which he ladled over stir-fried prawns and an array of colourful vegetables, finishing with a squeeze of lime juice – to be added at the end of cooking to prevent bitterness, Tao noted. The guests lapped up this Prawn Caveman Curry, which was followed in quick succession by other dishes on the Caveman menu such as Panang Chicken and Primal Green Beef.
Mixologist Karim then showcased the new range of Paleo compatable, signature cocktails, which are low in calories, made from the freshest fruit and use only natural sweeteners. Cocktails include The Gatherer, made with Bacardi Carta Blanca, Lillet rouge, stevia, a selection of fresh berries and topped with soda water €10.50 and The Hunter made with El Jimador Reposado Tequila, fresh red pepper, organic tomato juice, fresh chillies, lime juice, smoked salt and red peppercorn €10.50.
To ensure we knew our ginger from our galangal, Tao then took us on tour of the Asian Market. Though located nearby on Drury Street, it felt like we were a world away surrounded by a wealth of weird and wonderful ingredients; from choi sum to tamarind, salmon heads to duck feet, and everything in between. Though Saba’s authentic ingredients arrive on a weekly basis from Bangkok to Saba, Tao let us in on the next best alternatives available to recreate his dishes in our own homes.
The Caveman menu, packed full of nutritious ingredients, superfoods and antioxidants while staying true to Saba’s healthy ethos is not only perfect for caveman converts but also for those just looking for a delicious, authentic Thai meal without that side of added guilt. Available at Saba and Saba To Go, named as Ireland’s Healthiest Takeaway, you can now you can have your Thai, and eat it too.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after a brief dalliance with law, she completed a Masters degree in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.