Saturday, November 29, 2008
THAI COOKING (AND EATING) CLASS
Most of the people following this blog know that lisa and I like to cook...and we like to eat! Thai food is one of our favorites and we visit our local Thai establishments on a regular basis. lisa also likes to bake, often with the girls, and they enjoy the process as well as the result. So we can be considered a family that LOVES food. We could be called “foodies,” but that would be sooooo pretentious.
We attempted to take an Italian cooking class when we arrived in Tuscany, but the prices were at least $150 for each of us. Hello!!!!! I would like to make a cannoli but I don't want to buy the factory. Needless to say, we passed. C'est la vie (oops French vs. Italian).
When we arrived in Thailand we started to look for a cooking class. Pamphlets abounded at our Chiang Mai hotel's “tourist information” rack. The “City Life” magazine of Chiang Mai had dozens of cooking schools listed as well; it is one of the things people do when they visit Southeast Asia. We picked Baan Thai because it was recommended by Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor. We joined two other gentlemen, Ulu and Panno from Maui. We (the collective Ohio-Hawaii connection) got to choose the four dishes that we were to make from the cookbook collection presented to us. We chose:
Pad Thai – Standard Thai noodle dish. Most of the ingredients were arranged for us and we finished off the chopping of the ingredients. Si and Av had surprisingly good knife skills especially since their knives were full size, not kiddy size. They also weren't intimidated by the tall flames coming out of the cooking stations.
Prawns in Red Curry Sauce – We prepared the red curry paste. I don't mind chopping, but asking of teacher Nuk “is this fine enough” five times and each answer was “no, chop some more” got a bit old. The ingredients were then placed in a large stone mortar and pestle and ground some more. We found out later that the better the prep the better the dish. Like life.
Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup – We made the coconut milk fresh vs. coming out of a can. Very nice consistency. This is a recipe where the vegetables are cut a bit and mostly left whole. I had this dish two nights before in a nice restaurant and wondered why they had not cooked some of the items as I couldn't chew them. These inedibles turned out to be kafir lime leaves, galong (looked to be in the ginger family) and lemon grass. You're not supposed to eat these. Duh!! They forgot to give this big dumb Westerner lessons on how to eat Thai food.
Sticky Rice with Mango– The girls favorite. Sticky rice is a type of rice. It isn't sticky because of the cooking process. To the cooked rice we added concentrated coconut milk and palm sugar and later VERY fresh mangoes. Very nice sweet spice rice.
When you take a cooking class you don't need to make dinner reservations afterwards. Why??? Because you get to eat the food you prepare. Avocet did her best to eat some of each of the dishes including her “Tofu in Coconut Sauce” (red curry sauce w/o the curry). Siena had a bit of the prawn dish and more of the coconut milk soup. I enjoyed everything including the prawns. We were allowed to “dial back” the spiciness by reducing the amount of curry paste. All recipes were enjoyed by lisa except she was full after the first dish (Pad Thai). We tasted the efforts of Av and Si and found them equal in taste to the parental units. We left four hours later, happy with the learning and quite stuffed.
Oh, and the whole evening cost 700 Thai baht each or a total of $80.00 for all of us. Take that you Italians!!