Five minutes with Saiphin Moore:Chef and co-founder of Rosa’s Thai Cafe

An empire was founded when Moore and her husband turned a greasy-spoon café in Spitalfields into a successful Thai restaurant with regulars including Keira Knightley...

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Originally from the mountainous regions of northern Thailand, Saiphin Moore is a successful entrepreneur and chef.

With seven branches of her phenomenally popular restaurant, Rosa's Thai Cafe, dotted across the city and an eighth on its way, the sheer passion that goes into creating such food is there for all to taste.

What would you make for yourself for a simple evening meal?
I often cook a Thai fish dish or soups for dinner, as it reminds me of home; comfort food like tom kha with bone-in chicken, or jungle curry with fresh-water fish, are simple and quick to make.

What is your favourite kitchen utensil/gadget?
I can't live without my pestle and mortar! Grinding ingredients together by hand takes time, but it really brings out the oil from a mixture of herbs and spices, which adds a great complexity to the flavour of the final dish. 

Moore's favourite dish to make is papaya salad because it is simple but very versatile

This is great for when you want to make a chilli and garlic mix that goes into all kinds of Thai stir-fry, as well as when you want to give your arm a workout and make curry paste from scratch. By pounding the ingredients in the granite pestle and mortar, it releases the oils and enhances the fragrance and flavours in the dish. But when I've had a long day at work, I often go for my mini food processor as a short cut to making pastes and sauces. 

What's your favourite recipe to make?
Papaya salad will always be my favourite to make. This is simply because you can make so many varieties from this simple recipe; from papaya to green mangoes, apples and carrots, to vermicelli noodles. 

The one item or ingredient that you’re currently obsessed with?
Fermented anchovies. The smell is quite strong, so it's not for everyone! The fermentation process gives it a distinct umami flavour, which makes it super handy for north-eastern style salads and soups.

Your favourite London restaurant?
I always say Il Bordello in Wapping is the best Italian restaurant. I can't have enough of their pizza and pasta. But once we open Rosa's Brixton later this year, it might become my favourite London restaurant!

How do you approach your own diet?
I aim to eat light and refreshing dishes with loads of fresh herbs and spices. It used to be quite hard to find lots of Thai herbs in the supermarket, but I'm so glad that now I can buy Thai holy basil in London!

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