I spent 2 and a half months traveling South East Asia last summer. I was one of the hundreds of newly graduated british youth who fled the unemployment during the credit crunch by attempting to ‘Find myself’ in the depths of the orient. Partially attempting to better my chances of getting a job by broadening my experiences and also clinging to the need of seeing more of the world I planned my trip. My journey began in thailand, then moving into Laos, Vietnam and ending in Cambodia.
I loved everything about Thailand because it had so much to offer the tourists. It had the exotic heat that all British strive for in a summer holiday, the adventures of the jungle treks and wildlife, religious monuments for the cultured and an amazing social life for the party animals of the world. There’s a bit of everything for tourists but one thing that made Thailand all the more inviting is it’s cuisine.
When I look upon my journey through South East I constantly find myself thinking of Thailand the most. The dominant flavours of ginger, chilli, garlic and lemon grass mixed with the creamy coconut juices brings up a potent mixture of flavours that are so flavourful, that I find myself remembering the taste of this the most from my travels. It definitely is an acquired taste as anyone who dislikes strong aromas can struggle with this food. This is mainly due to the earthier flavours the British tongue is accustomed to. We more regularly deal with natural juices in meats and vegetables rather than adding lots of herbs to our meals. You also find that chilli is not something all can handle. Nonetheless, Thai food hits the spot for me.
Thai food favourites for me were Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup), Papaya Salad, Kao Soi(Crispy Noodles on a spicy broth), Red and Green Curry, and Pad Thai Street Noodles.
So, due to my love for Thai Food, I decided to take a Thai Cookery Class in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
After much research on http://www.tripadvisor.com I decided to go with Siam Rice Thai Cookery School . Nancy, the Head Chef was an amazing teacher and very warm and friendly. The course was no-nonsense and a very rare thing to say is that you got what you paid for. In Thailand this is the rare time where my trust in a company prevailed and I would recommend it to anyone.
We discussed Thai cultural differences as well as cuisine. She made us familiar with all the herbs we were working with then we got down to business.
My Menu choice consisted of Spring Rolls, Sweet and Sour Vegetables, Chicken Coconut Soup, Papaya Salad and Green Curry.
I think it was all DELICIOUS, my only disliked dish being the Sweet and Sour Vegetables. I am not sure if it was psychological but the fact that I knew how much tomato ketchup was placed in the dish meant that when I ate it, ketchup was all I could taste. Otherwise, All other dishes were cooked to perfection. I am yet to attempt them at home but heres the recipes in cash you are interested!
Chicken Coconut Soup
- 50g Chicken
- 50g Oyster Mushroom (or regular)
- 1 Stalk Lemon grass
- Thai Chilli Paste
- 1-2 Kaffir Lime Leaves
- 1-2 Peices of Galangal
- 7-8 crushed fresh Chillies
- 1 tbsp Coriander and Spring Onion
- 1-2 Limes
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 50g of Tomato and Onion cut into Quarters
- Half Cup coconut cream
- 2 tsp Sugar
- Chicken Stock
How to Make:
(1) Boil water in a pot, adding chicken stock, lime leaves, lemon grass, Galangal and Chillies.
(2) When you start smelling the herbs add the onion, tomatoes, mushroom, coconut cream and Chicken.
(3) Add fish sauce, Sugar, chilli paste and lime juice to taste.
(4) Serve and Garnish with Coriander and Spring Onion
My Favourite Dish!
- 100g Papaya, Carrot and Cucumber 30g Roasted Peanuts
- 3-5 Cloves Garlic
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Diced Tomato
- 1-2 tsp palm sugar
- 2 Chopped Long Beans
- 1 Lime
How to Make:
(1) Pound Chilli, Garlic, Peanuts in a mortar and then add fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, and pound again until Palm Sugar separates.
(2) Put on plate and mix in everything else, top with peanuts or dry shrimp.
The truth, my leaf fell apart so this is partially Chef Nancy’s work, Can’t take the credit at all!
If you want any of the other recipes Nancy give me just ask!
If any of you cannot be bothered to make your own, and live in London I would recommend going to Silom Village in Ealing Broadway, West London. They do food as authentic as it comes. Reviews at http://www.london-eating.co.uk/4114.htm