x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Chicken and chocolate and other edible oddities at UAE's Gulfood

A Thai food producer may have finally found a way to stop kids asking for chocolate with their broth on show at the region's largest food industry event in Dubai.

Chocolate- flavoured chicken essence drink on display at the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai World Trade Centre. The essence of chicken is made by a company called
Chocolate- flavoured chicken essence drink on display at the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai World Trade Centre. The essence of chicken is made by a company called "Scotch" from Thailand.

DUBAI // A Thai food producer may have finally found a way to stop kids asking for chocolate.

Scotch, in Bangkok, has mixed it with chicken broth and marketed it as a healthy snack for children.

"We remove the insides, head, neck and feet of the chicken first," said Sompoch Chavalvechakul, export director of the company. "We then boil the chicken at 124°C for around two hours."

Once the chicken is boiled, a layer of fat forms on top of the stock. It is skimmed off and the liquid strained to remove all excess chicken meat.

Then the chocolate is added.

The drink was on show this week at Gulfood, the region's largest food industry event, which took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The company sells three types of chicken essence: chocolate, pure and one flavoured with cordyceps, which is a parasitic Tibetan fungus.

"It's more expensive than gold," said Mr Chavalvechakul.

Scotch uses 23 tonnes of chicken to make 100,000 45-millilitre bottles. It produces 500 million bottles a year, sold only in Thailand for the equivalent of Dh3.60.

"It's very common in Thailand and there's a huge market for it," Mr Chavalvechakul added.

The chocolate-flavoured version includes Omega 3, and vitamins B12, B6 and D. If drunk regularly, Scotch says it helps alertness.

"Children love the chocolate flavour and it's good for their brains when they study," Mr Chavalvechakul said.

The sweetener was added to cover the somewhat unappealing aroma of the pure chicken version. "You need something to cover the strong smell.

"Because we can't remove the smell, we have to use something that smells better and stronger. You can't try strawberries or other flavours because they're not as strong."

Other varieties in the works include melon and banana.

Mr Chavalvechakul pointed to the stew's proteins as the source of its health benefits.

"These help the brain in terms of memory and they help fight fatigue," he said. "It's good for the lungs, stomach and kidneys for growing adults and Thai boxers. They drink it every day."

But although it is halal-certified, some at Gulfood were unconvinced.

"Just hearing the words chicken and chocolate together doesn't sound good to me," said Laila Kattal, a Syrian visitor. "I think there could be other ways of getting health benefits that wouldn't require having to mix those two ingredients together."

Others were intrigued. "If it's considered really healthy, then I would think of giving it to my children," said Mountaha Habib, a Palestinan mother of three. "I've never heard of such a combination but if it works with the kids, then why not try it?"

Scotch now hopes to find a local distributor, but Mr Chavalvechakul's biggest task will be to convince consumers the health benefits make the odd concoction worthwhile.

"If they realise it's good for their health, it could work because it's all natural and there are no chemicals," Mr Chavalvechakul said.

"It's not easy to sell in the Middle East but we have to try."

cmalek@thenational.ae