“Put love and happiness in your dishes. Every dish I make, I make it with love” – Charinya
Lion Brand Rice: Tell us a little about yourself and your background
Charinya Ruecha: I was born and raised in the Northeast of Thailand, the region known as Issan.
I am a farmer’s daughter, the second child of four siblings. Our parents had to work hard in the field so we had to learn how to look after ourselves and to help in the house since we were young. I love to help in the kitchen, and maybe this was the start of my cooking journey.
Later in life I left home to study and work in Bangkok, the classic story of a country girl who moves to a busy city. When I was in Bangkok it was cheaper and more convenient to buy food so I did not cook much until I moved to Australia.
LBR: How did you end up in Canberra?
CR: If I said I followed my heart it might sound a bit dramatic but that is the truth. I met my husband and moved to Australia with him. Moving was a big life change for me as I always considered myself a shy and not very brave person. I had never travelled overseas before I met him and didn’t know much about Australia, but it was the best decision I ever made. I have been living in Canberra for nearly 12 years and it is my second home now.
LBR: How would you describe your cooking/cooking style?
CR: A Thai home cooking style that seeks to keep authentic tastes but adapts ingredients and dishes to suit my new home and lifestyle. One thing I learnt about living in Australia are the quite distinct seasons, which can change not only the available ingredients but also the incentive to cook and eat very different dishes. That seasonal variation pushes me to develop some very creative dishes!
LBR:What is your signature dish?
CR:I am not sure if it is my signature dish, but every time I cooked this for my husband he loves it so much. The dish is “Grilled beef with Nam jim jeaw” (Isaan dipping). Australian beef is of good quality and the spicy taste from the dipping sauce go very well together.
Can I have more than one signature dish? If I can I think my fusion spaghetti with prawns and shrimp paste is another. I have posted the video recipe on my Instagram and there are nearly million views.
Grilled beef with Nam jim jeaw
CR:As I mentioned before I helped my parents in the kitchen from a quite young age, an experience that still inspires me to recreate the taste sensations of my childhood. Now, in the era of social media and the internet, I often draw inspiration from other bloggers/foodies. Sometimes just seeing my family or friends post food on social media makes me think “Ok, I will cook this tonight”. but when I don’t have a particular ingredient the need to improvise helps me to create a new dish.
LBR:You are in my view the ‘airfryer queen’ of Instagram. How did you end up using it so much?
CR:My friend was using an air fryer first and she kept telling me how good it is. Then I saw someone on a Facebook group use the air fryer to make Thai pork cracking (Cab moo) so I wanted it even more. I mentioned this appliance to my husband and he just surprised me by getting it for me. To me it is always appreciated when he spends money on kitchen gadgets! I started using the air fryer and getting creative with more dishes and different methods. I hate to deep fry as it is hard work to clean up after deep frying and sometimes the oven is too big for some dishes and takes ages to warm up. The air fryer solves these problems. When working full time this saves precious time and is so convenient
I love kitchen stuff and love to buy and try different devices. I think I have spent more money in my kitchen than on clothes or cosmetics. I definitely feel that my kitchen is too small now!
LBR:What would be your best tip for the kitchen?
CR: Put love and happiness in your dishes. Every dish I make I make it with love. There will be times that I don’t feel like cooking so I do not force myself, and that is when we get take away or go out to eat at a favourite restaurant.
Another suggestion is to be creative. Cooking is an art. The recipe is just a guide, so when I share my recipe I always tell my followers to taste it as they go and adjust as they prefer.
“Rice is the staple food for Thai people. When we meet someone we know we greet them with “Kin kow rue young?”, meaning “Have you eaten rice yet?”. From this you can see how rice relates to every part of Thai life.”
LBR: What is your favourite thing to eat with Lion Brand Rice?
CR: Everything! For my family, rice was the one thing that we didn’t have to buy, so my parents always told me to “Eat more rice, eat more rice then you will grow up”.
Rice is the staple food for Thai people. When we meet someone we know we greet them with “Kin kow rue young?”, meaning “Have you eaten rice yet?” From this you can see how rice relates to every part of Thai life.
Coming from a farming family I learnt how hard it is to grow and cultivate rice. This taught me to value and treasure every grain, so I always finish the rice on the plate and refuse to let it go to waste.