Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Living the Life of Julia Child

As you know, I have been whisked away to the other end of the world with The Boss on a work trip. Currently we are hanging out in the buzzing metropolitan of Bangkok, Thailand. Since the work week is back in full swing, the Boss is no where to be found and as per usual that leaves me up to my ears with ideas! This time I am not sneaking in any home renovations, instead I’m sneaking out to a privately taught Thai Cooking Class!Silom

Now I did my research on the different available classes in Bangkok, and this one was a little hidden, but when I found their webpage I knew I had hit the Jack-Pot! http://www.bangkokthaicooking.com/index.html The young man who runs this operation has the process really ironed out, with a array of menus (varies on day of the week), two classes offered a day (morning 9am-1pm or afternoon 2pm-6pm), the transportation covered, and most importantly costs were 1/3 of others in the area! And believe me, there was no quality lost with the price reduction, this was a seamless operation, very very clean, and our instructor was an absolute character. He made the experience! 

On with the show!:

We started off with a market tour and shopping for proteins, veggies, and fresh coconuts that we would need for our day.

IMG_3817IMG_3822(above is our cooking instructor)

Soon we were off and cooking. Myself and 4 other guys in the class were put in charge of breaking down the proteins, while the other were chopping up the veggies!IMG_3829Soon enough we were all back together getting a lesson on how coconut milk for cooking is extracted! Coconut milk for cooking is in fact different than the coconut milk you might treat yourself to on a beach somewhere where they chop open the top of a young coconut, stick a straw in it with a fancy umbrella and call it good. “Cooking” coconut milk is extracted from older coconuts, one’s whose milk has gone sour and the meat is really dry. Here you put the aged coconut meat into a food processor and mince. The rest of the story goes like this… IMG_3838

After adding water to the minced coconut you massage the two until the water has been absorbed. Then squeeze the water back out of the coconut and through a strainer for a very generous amount of coconut milk. Then you do the coconut dance one more time to double your earnings. 

IMG_3840IMG_3841After we had finished the milking process, a fellow student asked if people in Thailand really do this all the time for in home cooking (I think he was concerned that the store bought coconut milk back home wouldn’t render the same flavors). Our instructor said “No, they too lazy, buy in can!”. We all laughed.

Then we moved on to our first course of the day:

Tom Yum Koong, or as we North Americans might call it, Hot and Sour Prawn Soup. I have to say, I wasn’t stoked about seeing this recipe on the menu for my selected day’s menu, and that was simply because this is not a soup that I usually order. Well that has changed… I think this was my favorite course of the day! DELISH!

IMG_3843 First we got a talk about all of the ingredients

IMG_3846Then we got to work preparing our ingredients

IMG_3848Finally to our individual cooking stations

IMG_3851IMG_3853Did I already mention this was delicious?

Second Course:

Pad Thai Sai Kai – yes, this is the same as regular Pad Thai!

First we got “the talk” on rice noodles. IMG_3836

Basically over the years I think this guy has heard every crazy story there is to how Westerners have screwed up cooking these noodles. Really there’s no magic, just simplicity. Buy in package; soak in cold water for 5 minutes (no longer!) ; then drain and cook in oil! Type of oil is your choice, however olive oil is a bad choice and sunflower oil is the best choice.IMG_3858

Then we were back to discussing the key ingredients- Palm sugar, fish sauce, garlic, and tamarind paste.


Then we cooked, and we ate!

Course 3:

Laab Gai- Otherwise known as Northern Chicken Salad.

This was my least favorite dish. I found it to be a bit salty and the fish sauce taste took over, but I am sure with a little tweaking of ratios it would actually make a pretty good app for a dinner party.IMG_3878

A nice light dish with boiled chicken that was first minced, and then mixed with an assortment of chilies, lime juice, fish sauce, and coriander leaves.

Can you believe we are not done yet? Nope 2 courses left!

Course 4: (Main Course)

Kang Khiao Wan Gai- Green Curry with Chicken

This was fabulous as well! We even spent the time making our own curry paste!IMG_3883

The Green blob on the cutting board (below) is the curry paste!curry paste

Then we cooked, and we ate… again!


Course 5- Last course, and one recipe I will definitely frequent back at home:

Kow Neuw Ma Muang- Mango on Sticky Rice

First we got another “Talk”, this time about how to cook sticky rice, and before that, how to even differentiate in the grocery store “normal rice” from “sticky rice”. To keep it simple, sticky rice (when dry) looks very milky in color vs normal rice has a translucent look to it. IMG_3870

You are going to want to soak that rice for a minimum of an hour, and then steam it for 20minutes. A bamboo basket is best to use for the steaming process, but you can substitute a cheese cloth in your normal steamer if that is all that you have!

To top it off we used our fresh squeezed coconut milk mixed with some palm sugar, poured it on top of the warm sticky rice, and added mango on the side! 


This class was a really fun experience and more importantly I felt that I came away with new found knowledge on spices and cooking techniques. Granted this was a lot of information to take in on one day, but not to fear, the cooking instructor actually had hand made recipe books for each student to take home. It included everything we covered that day including cooking tips, key ingredients, substitutes for the more rare ingredients, and of course the day’s recipes!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the read, if your ever in Bangkok with a morning or afternoon to spare, I would definitely recommend this class!

Thanks for stopping by!


Christi said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

That sounds like a great experience!

Foges said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

no Pho? how dissapointing! How easy are those ingredients found in the states? Seems like you can really impress your friends at your next dinner party with some authentic dishes!

FLATOUT JIM said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You are the only person I have ever heard of who would go on a vacation, and take a cooking class.

BTW snow here in St. john's today. Aren't you sorry you are missing it?

Jayne said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

How cool!!

Michael Yoon said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Foges: Pho is Vietnamese, not Thai.

CoachLiz said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

AWESOME!!! Ok, now you are inspiring me to try to learn how to make Pad Thai. It looks like your instructor had a great operation there.

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