Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thai spice

We've just returned from a full day learning to cook Thai cuisine at the famous Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School run by renowned chef Sompon Nabnian and his wife Elizabeth. I've always wanted to cook Thai food at home but have always been intimidated due to the large number of ingredients needed. But today's course completely de-mystified Thai cooking for me and I'm eager to try out some of the basic recipes we learned today when I return to London.

Thirteen of us attended Chiang Mai's The Wok restaurant and listened and watched as instructors demonstrated various dishes for us and explained all the different spices, herbs and sauces used in Thai cookery such as holy or purple basil, tiny red chillis, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and palm sugar.

Then it was our turn to cook: at thirteen separate work stations we cooked Thai hot and sour prawn soup (tom yam goong), green curry with chicken (gaeng kheo wan gai), Thai fish cakes (tord man plaa), Thai fried noodles (phad Thai), minced pork Northern style (nam prik ong) and water chesnuts with sugar syrup and coconut milk (tab tim grob). And ate it all ourselves.

The day was great but was slightly marred by some of the other tourist students (from Canada, Scotland, England and Australia) who kept complaining at every opportunity: the food had too many chillis, or they wouldn't eat anything "with a face", or they were allergic to fish and shrimp, or they didn't like coriander. These same whiners chatted amongst themselves throughout the entire demonstration too. It made me wonder why they attended the course -- or indeed how they survive eating in Thailand.

Oh well, I'm now off to cool down at the Oasis Spa again where my partner will have a head, shoulder and back massage and I will have an intensive protein hair conditioning treatment with head massage.

Bliss!

Tomorrow we're back to Bangkok.