Watching the clock tick. Sleeping, eating, then napping. Not a great way to waste time on a vacation, but I had the vacation doldrums. I was waiting for my wife to catch up to me and was bored. What to do? What to do?
Well, I’ve taken cooking classes in Thailand before, once at the well known Baipai cooking school in Bangkok, and a few times at the Marriott in Pattaya. Each time was different and quite fun. I searched the internet and a couple cooking schools came up for Pattaya. One seemed to rank higher. Looking at the website, it seemed a bit more down to earth and, I hoped willing to teach authentic flavors and heat levels, as I eschew “dumbed down” tourist food. There’s a tendency for the Thai to take it easy on foreigners especially with regard to strong flavors like Pla Ra and the level of spiciness, and I would be the first to agree that it is for good reason. Not everyone can take it, and many novices may not like it. Having decided to take a chance on the school, I sent off an e-mail and booked two days, both of their intermediate classes. The cooking of Lanna and the cooking of Issan foods.
I spent a couple very rewarding days there and this is my story. Following Soi Boukow from my hotel and crossing Central Pattaya Road led me to the quaint cooking school. Formerly a bar, now converted to cooking use, thinking about it, I can’t think of a better use for the location.
The first day’s lesson was primarily Lanna food with a little Issan thrown in.
The first dish was Kao Soi Kai, curry noodles with chicken.
To make this, we started with our flat egg noodles divided in half. We fried half and boiled half, to get the combination of crispy and soft important to this dish. (more after the break)
Then we made curry paste from scratch. I pounded, but not enough as it went into the blender to finish! 🙂
Ingredients: Shrimp paste, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, red chile, kafir lime leaf, lemongrass, lime peel, shallot (and maybe a small piece of galangal hiding under the chile).
Once that was done, I chopped up the ingredients that were going into the soup.
Fried garlic, shallots, and pickled turnip. Oh, and chicken.
We fry half the noodles, boil the other half, then fry the curry paste.
The chicken is sliced and cooked, some yellow curry powder added along with coconut milk and the sauce is complete. We poured it over the noodles and it was ready for garnishing!
Garnish consisted of lime, pickled radish, sliced shallots, deep fried garlic, green onion and cilantro.
Some nice garnish, which is essential for the flavor of the dish and we’re ready to serve.
It was delicious. So good, in fact, that I ate pretty much the whole thing (mistake) and didn’t have room to really try more than a bite or two of everything else I made that day.
This story will continue…