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Cooking in Thailand


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“On your marks, get set, GO!”

And we were off – heat turned up high, wait 10 seconds. Quick, in goes the garlic. Keep stirring; don’t let it burn. Can you smell it yet? Smells good? Then in with the prawns. Just a few moments, watch as the prawns turn orange. Time for the tofu. Keep stirring; don’t stop. Crack the egg straight into the wok. Fish sauce and sugar, immediately, and stir rapidly until the egg scrambles. Push everything to the side of the wok and keep it there, pour in the water and the noodles. Keeping the egg mix out of the water, stir the noodles until soft. Nearly there, don’t forget to draw breath from time to time. Add the peanuts and beansprouts, and stir everything together for 20 seconds, in with the spring onions and off with the gas.

You’re ready to serve and season. Thai style demands four seasonings – sour, salt, spicy and sweet. So add lime juice, fish sauce, chilli and sugar to taste - and enjoy.

Of all the dishes on our cookery course, Pad Thai was hands down the most fun to cook. A race against time once you turn on the gas, you seem to need at least three hands. Most of the dishes were cooked at a slightly less breakneck pace, but all were quick and absolutely delicious. The class argued over which dish was the yummiest, with the papaya salad a popular choice. Caelen and I worried about finding the right ingredients at home – one thing the morning market tour had shown us was the huge range of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices available in Thailand. The Irish supermarkets make a depressing comparison. I suppose I’ll just have to get gardening if I want to perfect my sweet, aromatic green curry when I get back home.

In all, we cooked and devoured six dishes. The spicy beef salad, with its delicious lime and lemongrass dressing, whetted our appetites. At least that was the plan – I had difficulty restraining myself from filling up completely on our first dish of the day. The green chicken curry was a revelation. Never before have I been able to recreate the fabulous flavours at home, but now I can (although next time we’ll know to use only a couple of spoonfuls of fish sauce). Chicken and basil leaves, pad thai and papaya salad took us to lunchtime and beyond.

Giving our stomachs a desperately needed break, I made green curry paste while Caelen learned to carve vegetables into pretty flower shapes (an important life skill). And then, just when we thought we could eat no more, it was time for dessert - fried bananas with ice cream. Another labour intensive dish, Caelen and I slaved over the wok, turning the banana slices every 15 seconds and trying not to drool too much as they turned golden brown. As we tucked in we consoled ourselves with the thought that we would have no trouble finding the right ingredients for this dish at home.

If you fancy making Pad Thai yourself, quantities for two people are:

2 tablespoons soya bean oil
4 cloves garlic crushed, peeled and chopped
4 peeled raw prawns (veggies omit)
50 grams tofu, cut in 1cm strips
1 egg
2 tablespoons fish sauce (veggies substitute soy sauce)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup warm water
150 grams rice noodles pre-soaked in warm water for 2 minutes
>2 tablespoons ground peanuts
2 sweet spring onions
¼ lime

Pictures - click to enlarge
we made these Chiang Mai Cooking Thailand travelogues
Picture of Barbara cooking Chiang Mai Cooking Thailand travelogues
Pretty vegetables

Barbara cooking

Photograph of the group making green curry past Chiang Mai Cooking Thailand travelogues
Picture of Caelen carving vegtables Chiang Mai Cooking Thailand travelogues
   
Making green curry paste

Intense concentration!

Picture of the group eating Chiang Mai Cooking Thailand travelogues
Picture of a Thai market Chiang Mai Cooking Thailand travelogues
Enjoying the fruits of our labours
Fresh produce at the market