Dining In: Farang Thai puts thrilling, spicy fare in your freezer

The catering company's chef, Cameron Fraser love for Thai food grew out of his interest in Thai kickboxing.

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Farang Thai

Email: farangthaiottawa@gmail.com

Phone: 613-884-0221

Website: farangthaiottawa.com

Instragram: instagram.com/farangthaiottawa/

Prices: frozen meals are $14 (with protein) or $12 (vegetarian); minimum order is three dishes, 15 per cent discount applies for 15 meals or more ordered at once; delivery in the Ottawa-Gatineau area is free, orders are due on Wednesdays for deliveries on Friday, Saturday or Sunday

If you’re a stickler for culinary authenticity, it might interest you to know that the Ministry of Commerce in Thailand certifies restaurants around the world that it deems to be truly Thai in terms of ingredients, recipes and even ambience.

In Ottawa, four restaurants — Khao Thai on Murray Street, Pookie’s Thai on Carling Avenue, Talay Thai in Centretown and Thai Lanna Cuisine in South Keys — have received the ministry’s Thai Select designation.

I wonder, though, what the Thai Select program would think of the frozen meals that I’ve recently enjoyed from the Ottawa-based caterer Farang Thai.


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The four-year-old company, which consists of couple Cameron and Corinne Fraser, is “committed to making Thai food that tastes the way it’s supposed to taste in the region it comes from,” according to its website.

Cameron, who is the cook, developed his recipes from his own culinary exploits in Thailand, which he first visited in 2007 to study Thai kickboxing. Food won out over fisticuffs and the Frasers say they made subsequent trips to Thailand with the country’s rivetingly flavourful regional dishes as their focus.

“Now our recipes are the result of eating as much as we can handle and trying the same dish from different vendors and restaurants to try and pinpoint what we like most, and translating that inspiration into delicious food, mostly from memory, or from asking what’s in it and how it’s made whenever possible,” says Cameron. He adds that he refers to certain cookbooks, such as The Food of Northern Thailand by Austin Bush, Bangkok by Leela Punyaratabandhu and Pok Pok by Andy Ricker for added inspiration.

Apart from the fact that Farang Thai doesn’t have a location for dining in, there could be some strikes against it when it comes to a Thai Select designation. The company’s name might be seen as a little cheeky, as “farang” means “white person” in the Thai language. Also, while the Thai Select program rewards restaurants that import Thai ingredients, Farang Thai uses vegetables, meat, herbs, and spices from local vendors as much as possible.


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Finally, because Cameron Fraser has celiac disease, all of his food is gluten-free, which means there have been small tweaks to recipes because soy sauce and other sauces, for starters, usually contain gluten.

However, the Frasers say on their website that they’re “not trying to ‘Westernize’ anything. It’s grassroots Thai food. No fusion, no ‘Thai style,’ no substitutions (unless requested).” Farang Thai can also accommodate allergies and sensitivities, it says.

It’s been more than two decades since I made my one trip to Thailand, and my best benchmarks for Thai authenticity have since been dishes I’ve had in New York. All that said, I’m happy to shelve any arguments about authenticity and vouch for Farang Thai’s very generously portioned food as delicious and vibrant, marked by nuances that I don’t always taste in Ottawa’s Thai restaurants.

Also, there was no meaningful degradation of Farang Thai’s food even if it had come from freezer rather than straight from a wok.

Farang Thai does require a level of commitment in terms of bulk purchasing. Buying a minimum of three meals (usually a curry or stir-fry with rice) at a time is required. But those with large freezers and a love of Thai food might spring for buying 15 meals, which would come with a 15 per cent discount.

I’ve tried single portions of a half-dozen dishes from Farang Thai’s changing menu. Chicken satay was substantial, well seasoned and its peanut sauce was persuasive. Laab pork was a properly pungent, heaping serving of minced pork, with a finishing touch of toasted rice. Pineapple red curry with chicken and a cashew chicken stir-fry delivered clear, compelling flavours.


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Chicken satay from Farang Thai
Chicken satay from Farang Thai Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Laab pork from Farang Thai
Laab pork from Farang Thai Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Pineapple curry with chicken from Farang Thai
Pineapple curry with chicken from Farang Thai Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Cashew chicken stir fry from Farang Thai
Cashew chicken stir fry from Farang Thai Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

My favourite dish was a stir-fry of curried squash with beef, which popped with the most heat and complexity.

Squash and beef stir-fry from Farang Thai
Squash and beef stir-fry from Farang Thai Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

As far as spiciness goes, Cameron Fraser says “the default for dishes that call for chilies is ‘average’ or maybe medium. There are plenty of dishes that have no chilies at all, and there are plenty of others that absolutely cannot taste the way they’re supposed to if chilies are omitted, in which case we can certainly adjust the heat level, which we’ve done whenever possible.” If you did want more of a spicy jolt to your food, the caterer’s Farang Fire hot sauce has a good kick to it, combining lime juice, shallots, coriander, chilies and the fermented funk of fish sauce.

Glass noodle stir-fry from Farang Thai
Glass noodle stir-fry from Farang Thai Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

The only Farang Thai dish I wouldn’t rush to order again was the vegetarian glass noodle stir-fry, particularly when the meatier dishes each came with plenty of rice.

The only constructive criticism I had for the Frasers was that their food should come with reheating instructions. They say they’ve since added that information.

I do miss going out to Thai restaurants during the pandemic, not only for the thrilling food but also the deep hospitality. However, one small upside to this topsy-turvy virus time is that I’ve become acquainted with Farang Thai’s tasty, convenient and economical food, and my fondness for it will persist after COVID-19 has receded.


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