Flame it on the sunshine: Thai solar chicken a hot hit

1 / 4
This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows food vendor Sila Sutharat turning the grates on a cart loaded with chicken as he cooks the white meat with rays of sun reflected on an oversized mirror panel on his property in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
2 / 4
This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows food vendor Sila Sutharat pointing to chickens being cooked by rays of sun reflected onto an oversized mirror panel on his property in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
3 / 4
This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows Mali Pansari, the wife of food vendor food vendor Sila Sutharat, carrying a tray of cooked chicken past an advertising panel displaying the photo of her husband at their eatery in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
4 / 4
This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows Mali Pansari, the wife of vendor food vendor Sila Sutharat, tending to their eatery where they sell chicken and pork cooked by solar rays in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2017
0

Flame it on the sunshine: Thai solar chicken a hot hit

THAILAND: Not many chefs don a welding mask before they enter the kitchen, but Sila Sutharat prefers to cook his chicken sunny side up.
Two hours south of Bangkok this 60-year-old roadside vendor has found an ingenious way to offer his customers something a little different by harnessing the power of the sun.
Using a large wall of nearly 1,000 moveable mirrors — a device he designed and built himself — he focuses the sun’s rays onto a row of marinated chickens, sizzling away under the intense heat.
His unusual culinary methods raised a few eyebrows when he first hit upon the idea.
“They said that I’d gone mad, that cooking chicken like this was impossible,” he told AFP next to his stall, the row of sun-drenched chickens behind him too bright to look at for any length of time.
“After a long time passed by, they’d say: ‘Actually, you could do it’,” he added.
That’s because the the solar reflector generates intense heat, easily enough to match an oven, with a sunshine-baked chicken taking just twelve minutes to cook through.
For much of the last 20 years Sila grilled in relative obscurity for a fairly local crowd.
But after videos of his solar-cooker went viral online, people from across Thailand have flocked to his stall in Phetchaburi province.
Sila says the idea came to him in 1997 when he was struck by the heat reflecting off a passing bus.

“I thought, with this heat reflecting from the window from the sun, I could possibly change it into energy,” he said.
Sila says that compared to a traditional charcoal grill — which he used before his solar epiphany — his meat is more tender and evenly-cooked.
And given Thailand’s sweltering tropical climate, the sun is a free, clean and totally sustainable energy source.
“At the time, energy such as petrol and gas was becoming more expensive and suppliers were also running out of wood to sell,” he recalled.
“I thought if I used solar energy, I could save a lot. And it also decreases pollution.”
Sila and his wife Pansri now cook around 40 chickens — as well as several sides of pork — each day.
“We’ve been eating here for a long time,” said regular patron Thanyarat Kaewpaleuk, who was tucking into lunch with her husband.
“It’s delicious. His chicken is fatty, it’s not burned and doesn’t smell like a charcoal grill, which you can smell on the meat.”


Where We Are Going Today: Hwa-Ro

Hwa-Ro
Updated 20 September 2019

Where We Are Going Today: Hwa-Ro

  • Hwa-Ro is located on Prince Saud Al-Faisal Road, in Al-Rawdah district of Jeddah

JEDDAH: A number of restaurants have brought Korean barbecue cuisine to Jeddah, but Hwa-Ro beef grill has taken the cooking style to a new level.
Here, diners can barbecue their own meals on one of the restaurant’s grills, which come complete with all the necessary cooking utensils.
Customers select from meat or chicken, and a range of side dishes are available to complement their choice.
The concept is ideal for gatherings with family, friends or work colleagues. One person can take responsibility for grilling the food while the others help mixing and matching sides.
The barbecue settings allow diners to customize the flavor, tenderness and size of meat according to their tastes and they can order just one meat choice or go for the variety platter, which includes chuck steak, sliced brisket and Korean bulgogi (barbecued beef), accompanied with vegetables which also go on the grill.
Hwa-Ro is located on Prince Saud Al-Faisal Road, in Al-Rawdah district of Jeddah.