Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thai Cooking

On January 27th we took Pats Cooking class. Getting there was a little confusing as the address wasn't known to Pat when we called so we had to have the taxi driver call Pat and get directions.

On arrival Pat was a little pissed (understandably) that we only have two cookers as our third was a no-show. Initially she wanted more money (we disagreed) and was otherwise grumpy. However, once we got to cooking she cheered right up and was awesome.

The class was held at one of Pats houses, a short drive out of town.

Our menu for the day was:

  1. Poh Pah Thod - Spring Rolls
  2. Kaeng Khiao Wom Kai (curry green sweet chicken) - Green Curry with Chicken
  3. Panang Kai - Panang Curry with Chicken
  4. Pad Thai - Thai Style Fried Noodles
  5. Kaui Bood Shee - Banana in Coconut Milk

After reviewing the menu we got down to cooking.

First up was green curry. Green curry turned out to largely consist of eggplant. Several of these eggplants we had never seen before.

The vegetables are cooked up with curry paste and coconut oil. One interesting tip from Pat was that to tell if the curry is done you cook green curry until the seeds are clear on the wedges from the round eggplant (top right in photo above). Once the seeds are clear you add coconut cream. The eggplant on the lower right is responsible for the myth of peas in green curry (though in Vancouver we're pretty sure you sometimes really do get peas).

After green curry we moved on to chicken spring rolls.

After rolling and sealing with a little egg we had a nice collection of raw masterpieces.

The spare sheet of wrap is used to see if the oil is ready to insert the rolls. When you dip the sheet in the oil it should bubble just a little bit. If it ferociously bubbles the oil is too hot.

Our Pad Thai was seemingly straight forward. However in reality Pat kept saying exactly when to stir or flip so we rather doubt we could reproduce it nearly so well by ourselves. For display purposes first three shrimp were placed in a small bowl, then Pad Thai was tamped down on top of it, and then the result was flipped upside down onto a plate to yield a dome with the shrimps on top.

Panang curry seemed the simplest: just mix stuff up and fry. Hopefully we'll be able to get the ingredients and reproduce this at home.

The banana and coconut milk desert was also pretty simple. And VERY sweet and fatty - and delicious.

By about 11:30 we were done cooking everything and ready to enjoy our masterpieces. We ate a lot of great thai food in Thailand but even so for several dishes the food we made under Pat's supervision was the best rendition we ever had.

A sign on the wall mentioned that Pat offers a carving - as in carving fruit into flowers or whatever for display - course as well as the cooking one; if we had time we'd likely have given it a try.

After Pat's cooking we dropped into Phuket Coffee for another dose of internet, played badminton in the ocean (this turns out to be harmful to the badminton racket and shuttlecock), and booked a boat tour of Phi Phi with snorkeling, etc. The initial stated cost was 2800 THB/person; with next to no negotiation this dropped to 1500 THB. Probably we could have gotten it lower but the salesman was starting to push back and the price was likely at an ideal place already: good price for us and good profit for them.

Once our boat tour for the next day was lined up we went back to the room to clean up for dinner. We flipped on the TV while preparing and caught a few minutes of Discovery. It dawned on us that we'd been watching essentially no TV for the previous couple of months. This made getting to watch a few minutes an enjoyable novelty! It will be interesting to see if a pattern of watching very little TV continues once we're home or if we'll head towards the horrifying ~4hrs/day north american average (we feel we should note we have never actually made it as high as 4hrs/day average before!) once back home.

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