Travel Diary: Thai Cooking Class

During our first week of the trip, which was spent in Phuket, we attended a cooking class at the next town over, Kata Beach.  I had signed us up nice and early with it being high season, and the class having stellar reviews on Trip Advisor. Much to our surprise, when the driver showed up we were the only two attending class that day. Nice. Our instructor, Mimi, and driver transported us from our resort to The Kitchen, a Thai restaurant and cooking class venue, with one stop at a market along the way.

Many types of prawns.

Many types of prawns.

It was the type of day in Phuket that edged on unbearably hot, for a canuck like me… well over 30 degrees and disgustingly humid (and this was dry season). Mimi took us to a large nearby open-air market (thankfully with shade), to give us an example of how fresh produce and meat are sourced for the plethora of Thai restaurants in that area. We sauntered around while she gave us explanations on mostly vegetables, and meat, and we asked some questions. We could have easily walked around for an hour, just looking, but we were eager to get to the class, where the ingredients had already been purchased and prepped for us. We were treated to as much bottled water as we wanted, and after we arrived, had a few minutes to rest in the wind of a two large fans; I started to cool off.

Mimi.

Mimi.

Our setup was a humble folding table with a plastic tablecloth, single gas burners, plastic cutting boards and the necessary knives, utensils and pots and pans. We were learning four Thai dishes, which we picked in advance on the website: vegetable spring rolls, gang keaw waan tai (green chicken curry), traditional pad thai with prawns and tom yum goong (pictured at the very top). So, very recognizable Thai dishes that we thought would be fun to cook while in Thailand! The methods were a little less complicated than we were hoping for (especially for Geir), as in, we used some short cuts like pre-made green curry paste. But overall it was a great experience and Mimi was super fun and friendly.

Finished pad thai, served with crushed peanuts, chiles and sugar as is customary here.

Finished pad thai, served with crushed peanuts, chiles and sugar as is customary here.

All of the dishes turned out flavourful and tasty, with the curry and the pad thai having a very healthy amount of heat! We found the recipes used a surprising amount of sugar, and that a lot of Thai dishes include either white or brown sugar to balance out the spicy chiles. We got to take a copy of the recipes home. Check out the photo gallery for the market tour and cooking class, and below that — a recipe for green curry chicken!

Below is the green curry chicken recipe we were sent home with, which is very fast and easy to make. The measurements are a bit different, and the yield is not listed, but I’d guess two servings. You can’t get the type of small eggplant that we used here, usually, so substitute for any vegetable you enjoy in your curries. Carrots, green beans and potatoes all work nicely (cook the potatoes a bit in advance).

Our curry, it was quite spicy.

Our curry, it was quite spicy.

Gaang Keaw Waan Gai (Chicken in Green Curry), from The Kitchen, Kata Beach

180 grams Sliced chicken breast

10 grams Crispy eggplant

10 grams Small eggplant

1 tbsp Green curry paste (I like Mae Ploy)

10 grams Thai (sweet) basil leaves (tear them up before throwing in)

2 pieces Sliced red chiles (or to taste)

2 cups Coconut milk

2 pieces Kaffir lime leaves (tear them up before throwing in)

1 tbsp Fish sauce

2 tbsp Palm sugar

1. Add the vegetable oil in the pan then heat to medium heat. Add the green curry paste and heat until it brings out a good aroma.

2. Add the sliced chicken (note: let it get a good sear before moving on), and add the coconut milk a little at a time. Add crispy eggplant and small eggplant.

3. Add the kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil leaves and sliced red chiles at the end. (Note: it’s ready when it’s reduced a bit to a thicker consistency, and smells amazing.)

4. Serve with steamed rice.

Green curry-coconut spicy fusion tacos

IMG_0815

This has been the week of green curry. I brought home a can from Tian Phat on Monday and have been trying to use it in a variety of ways since. My favourite, so far, has been these green Thai curry-marinated tempeh tacos. You could easily make this recipe with the meat or seafood of your choice, but I think it’s delicious with tempeh or tofu.

Here are the elements that came together to make this delicious (almost vegan) creation…

Grilled masa corn tortillas + green Thai curry and coconut-marinated tempeh + spicy “Asian” slaw + Sriracha-citrus yogurt + daikon sprouts + crumbled peanuts + fresh cilantro = delicious fusion tacos.

This is my second run at fusion tacos, because as most of you know I am obsessed with the bulgogi style tofu tacos at Indochine Banh Mi on South Park Street. I tried recreating those once and something just wasn’t right. These are different, with the Thai curry influence, and I was extremely happy with how they turned out. I’m putting them in regular dinner rotation, maybe switching up the protein now and again. The marinating did take a little bit of time, but it was completely worth it.

IMG_0803

I’m not going to do a full recipe, just give you the basics. The tempeh marinade consisted of rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, lemon-infused olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, freshly squeezed blood orange juice, fish sauce, green curry paste, more fresh ginger and garlic, fresh basil and of course coconut milk. I let that sit, sealed, for a couple hours. The cooking method to really infuse the flavour into the tempeh is to then put it on the stove, cover it in the marinade, bring to a boil them simmer for about 20 minutes. After that, jack the heat and let it completely reduce to nothing.

The Asian slaw I made had sliced napa cabbage, grated carrot, green onion, red pepper and cilantro. The dressing was hot (and tasted SO good the next day) with chiles, fresh ginger, rice vinegar, lime juice and lemon-infused olive oil. The Sriracha-citrus yogurt is simple, I used a mixture of Fox Hill plain yogurt, store-bought greek yogurt, Sriracha, lime juice and my secret ingredient, roasted garlic oil.

IMG_0793

Add your favourite Asian-inspired toppings and you’re good to go. I found amazing daikon radish sprouts at Selwood Green last weekend and they were perfect; those along with crumbled peanuts and fresh cilantro, and these were some spicy, yet beautifully balanced tacos.

Thanks to the Seaport Farmers’ Market I was able to use mostly all local vegetables, and grab fantastic handmade corn tortillas from El Gallo.

(To make these vegan, just leave out the fish sauce and use your favourite dairy-free yogurt.)

IMG_0824