Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I got love in my tummy.

On Saturday, I went to a cooking class at my favorite Thai restaurant in Sydney called Spice I Am.  I was late.  In a first, the bus driver driving the second bus I was catching drove past us.  I even made eye contact with him as he passed.  Boo.  

So, I hoofed it the rest of the way making me slightly sweaty and 5 minutes late.  Luckily I wasn't the last one to arrive though.  I didn't want to be labelled as the late American all day.  Instead I think I was the American that won't stop asking questions.  Much better.

It was fantastic!  I've never been to a cooking class so I didn't know quite what to expect.  There were only 10 of us and we had several servers and sous chefs as helpers. They had all of the ingredients laid out for us at "market".

If my market looked like this it would be easier to shop

The head chef/owner Sujet Saenkham conducted the class.  He was hilarious and very passionate about cooking and teaching others about Thai food.  It's hard not to get excited about something when the person teaching you is so excited themselves. He grew up in Central Thailand and learned to cook from his mother who was a cook for important dignitaries and officials in their area.  He says that he wanted to start a restaurant to cook food the way it is prepared in Thailand, not necessarily Thai food as we have come to know.  This means that everything is fresh. He gets a lot of ingredients from his own garden.

Sujet in front of the class

We started by making a green curry paste with a mortar and pestle.  Luckily I have one at home and have used it before so my paste ended up quite good I think.  Then we moved back to our stations and went to market for our ingredients for Green Curry.  I was also pleased to find that everything we cooked was quite spicy.  I guess I should have figured that people who like to cook are usually more open to tasting all types of food.  Very cool to see open people willing to try things they've never had before.  Such as pork blood jelly.  It freaked me out at first to see the red blocks sitting there but Sujet assured me that it was very high in protein and I should try it.  Sure enough I actually did like it.  Weird but if you didn't know what it was you wouldn't think anything of it.  I am a girl raised on beef tongue and chorizos after all.  What's a little pork blood?

My cooking station complete with brass wok.  Which is the way to go by the way. You can clean it with Tamarind and it stays nice and shiny clean.

So, we start the wok cold, add oil and add the green curry paste.  Sujet says, "some of you might sneeze a little".  Ha! The whole room suddenly explodes with unbelievably fresh smells and everyone starts sniffing, sneezing, and coughing.  It was funny.  I had thought ahead and stood back away to stir my curry so I think I might be the only one that didn't sneeze.  I felt bad for the ones that stood directly over their wok with their face inhaling the fumes.  It did catch my throat and I was thankful for the water that one of the servers had just filled up.  Ah, they were expecting this too.

Ingredients from top left to right around the plate:
Chicken, Green Curry Paste, Keffir Lime leaves, red chili, green chili, Apple eggplants, basil, pickled rhizome, pea eggplant and the cubes in the middle are pork blood jelly.
There is also palm sugar at the top and a mixture of coconut cream and milk

We continued to add the ingredients when he said and boom,  awesome green curry!  We then got to take a break and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.  I had to assure three different people four different times that I did not actually need a glass of wine but thanks anyway.  Oh, Australia... as I sigh and think if they only knew me they probably wouldn't want to ask me anymore.   Anyway...

Finished product. My green curry. 

Apparently most people like to over stir.  I guess I am one of them.  In actuality if you have the right ingredients and equipment you shouldn't stir a curry very much.  Sujet said part of it is the beautiful mixture of colors you get on the top of the sauce of the curry.  A multitude of yellows and greens.  You won't get that if you stir too much.  I think this will actually help me with other cooking as well.

Sujet relaxing between dishes

We then shifted to our Pad Thai recipe.  Spice I Am has the best Pad Thai I have ever tasted so I was very excited to see how they do it.  Once again, fresh ingredients that are not over cooked.  Also, the noodles were pre-soaked for an hour before we got there and he slices the bean curd lengthwise and cooks it a little to get the right moisture level.

Ingredients for Pad Thai

I think the real secret to great Thai food is a great fish sauce.  Sujet makes his own and the difference between store bought is amazing. Of course, this takes like 12 months to ferment so I'll just be buying premium at the store.  Instead of adding sugar to make the green curry sweeter he told me to add some fish sauce.  Really?  I always thought fish sauce was, well, fishy.  Not so, it totally kicked my dish up a notch without any "fishy" taste.  Who knew?

My finished Pad Thai complete with Banana leaf, bean sprouts and green onions

In Thailand, a lot of people eat their Pad Thai with banana leafs.  I had never tasted it before.  It was slightly bitter but the texture with the noodles was quite good. 

Sujet's finished product

I had a fantastic time and learned a lot about Thai cuisine.  I might even drag Sean along for the next class.  Plus, I got a book with recipes, a certificate, a jar of green curry paste, the apron I used with Spice I Am on the front and take home food.  I got home and Sean says, "well, they certainly had you pegged on liking free stuff". 
Yes.  Yes I do. 

Woohoo, I'm official!

1 comment:

  1. Looks great Coley! Good job, I am now hungry. I miss you!