Pudding cook's 'saving grace'

Last updated 13:00 25/02/2013
Paula Saengthian-Ngam
STILL IN THE GAME: Stoke contestant Paula Saengthian-Ngam has survived elimination on MasterChef New Zealand.

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Stoke mother Paula Saengthian-Ngam was saved by a steamed pudding on MasterChef New Zealand, in a hangi challenge that aired on TV One.

She is now in the top 15 on the cooking show, after her idea of making a steamed pudding in the hangi was welcomed by the judges on last night's show.

Episode three saw the contestants sent to Mokoia Island, in the middle of Lake Rotorua, where they were split into teams of four and asked to produce gourmet hangi food in just over four hours.

Mrs Saengthian-Ngam's team was in the bottom two, but they were not the ones to go home.

The judges said the pudding was their saving grace.

Auckland hospitality consultant Susanne Huber was dumped instead, for her part in producing "stringy pork, undercooked koura and stuffing like glue".

Mrs Saengthian-Ngam, 35, said the hangi was a "massive" challenge, and she really enjoyed it.

"It was pretty full on - quite scary really."

She said she had made a steamed pudding at home a few weeks ago, so the idea was in the back of her mind.

The biggest issue in making the ginger and manuka honey pudding was a lack of raising agents, with no baking powder or baking soda on hand.

"I just had to use eggs, and it worked. I was lucky really. It wasn't like an old brick or anything. It could have been horrible."

Mrs Saengthian-Ngam said she had been an avid MasterChef watcher since series one, and her family encouraged her to try out.

She watched the third episode with her sister last night, after they devoured a stuffed venison back strap, wrapped in smoked bacon, with parsnip puree.

"It was delicious. I have always loved cooking. I have worked in cafes and stuff, but never as a chef."

MasterChef New Zealand airs at 7.30pm on Sundays on TV One.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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