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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Thai Cookery Lesson

Photos in this post are courtesy of my husband - I was too busy cooking to wield a camera!

As I mentioned earlier, I had a Thai cookery lesson on Saturday.

Now, as you may have gathered from reading my recipes, I'm not really the recipe-following kind of cook. I take more of a 'handful of this, sprinkling of that' approach and just keep tasting till it's about right. This works brilliantly for cuisines with which I'm familiar, because I can improvise near-infinite variations, but I've never cooked Thai before so I'm not confident on the basic ingredients and flavour combinations. (I bought myself a Thai cookbook to have a go, but following recipes is just hard work!)

One of my friends (we'll call him G) cooks amazing Thai food, and usually treats us to a feast whenever we visit. So I asked if we could rock up early one day and learn how it's done. Hence, Saturday.

Turns out G is not so keen on actual-to-the-letter recipe following, either, so the Thai skills I've learnt go very well with my normal cookery methods. I'm probably just about ready to buy some bits & go it alone now, Thai-style.

He says most of the time spent on Thai cookery is in the preparation, which is probably true, but apparently you can freeze all the different spices so I reckon you could have a day of Thai prep, freeze it all up, and then it'd be a quick supper. To start with he set me off preparing a variety of typical Thai spices (ginger, lemongrass, galangal, chillis, kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil...) and chopping vegetables.

There were a couple of other friends coming along for dinner as well, so I made veggie dishes while G did some stuff with beef, chicken & pork for everyone else.

We started out with a veggie Tom Ka soup. Here are the ingredients ready for making up the soup (with a lot of coconut milk & veg stock). Note the essential G&T, in a magic constantly-refilling glass, which fuelled my cooking:

One of the veggie dishes was a red curry with fried tofu & spinach. The starting ingredients:

And me giving the veggies a quick stir-fry:

G made sweet & sour pork, but we also divided off some of the sauce first so I could have some sweet & sour tofu as well. This is the sweet & sour ingredients (left), alongside the chicken red curry (in the wok) and tom ka soup (pan at the back) :

I also had my first attempt at deep-frying (I'm a wimp and have never tried it before) as we made some tempura using okra:

Unfortunately I'd had 3 G&Ts and a couple of glasses of wine before it was time to do the frying, and managed to burn my finger (on a hot dish, not on the oil, thankfully). The actual frying was surprisingly easy though, and I'll definitely try it at home. While I went off to stick my finger under the tap, G fried the tofu for my other dishes, but we don't have any pictures of that.

We also had rice & noodles. I ate so much that it was well after midday the next day before I could start to contemplate eating again, without feeling a little bit sick. And I learnt such a lot about Thai food in the process. Good times!!


Heather said...

Yum - sounds delish! And that picture of the fried okra made me hungry. You know that's a southern comfort food for me, right? Reminds me of my grandma's house. Except I've never had it fried whole - always cut into little pieces.

Lilly's Life said...

Rachel congrats, thats looks scrumptious. I
did Thai cooking classes in Thailand when on holiday. It was fun. And I cant follow a recipe to save myself either. I was never good at taking directions or reading them. Its great to learn something knew and try food we have never had before.

Kazzy said...

Looove Thai food. Sounds like a fun gathering. It is fun to cook with friends, huh?

Dedene said...

Cooking is always so much more fun with a G&T and friends! That looks so yummy. Where do you find the herbs and spices?

Chef E said...

This looks and sounds good...I too have ingredients for thai with tofu, but cannot get in the mood today to cook, is that possible? I am suppose to be enthusiastic, but feel totally un-creative...maybe my head cold!

Pam said...

Looks good! That's why I can't drink and cook.

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