First Thai Cooking Class | Thai Cooks!

First Thai Cooking Class

Patti making a fresh batch of Larb (Ground Pork Salad)

Patti making a fresh batch of Larb

How did it go? It was more fun than bobbing for Thai chilies in a barrel of fish sauce!

After a boring introduction, Patti jumped right into it with Thai tea. She had some made ahead of time so everyone could drink some while she demonstrated making some. So far – perfect!

She made the tea using a strainer, and amused everyone by claiming you can make this by straining it through a sock. Of course the students were all impressed by the bold color of the tea.

Patti explains about making Thai sticky riceNext came the sticky rice. Patti had a large metal container with water that looks like it should hold a potted plant of some sort. On top was a bamboo weave basket, lined with a banana leaf, and filled with uncooked sticky rice. She explained that you need to get the Thai long grained glutenous rice and showed a bag so that people could see.

“Is this the same as sushi rice?” always gets asked, and the answer is always no. Sushi rice is short grained, roundish rice that you rinse and soak so that it comes out tender. Thai sticky rice should be firm and big; it’s finger food!

Now the fun really got started as Patti demonstrated making Som Tam. Armed with garlic and Thai chili freshly picked from her garden, she headed straight for the mortar and pestle.

Patti explained that you should use a nice tall “cloak” (mortar) for a couple reasons. After she makes the initial paste, she added a healthy amount of liquids, lime juice and fish sauce, and you should be able to mix that together easily without spilling.

You don’t want to worry as you add green beans and tomatoes after that. They only need to be “bruised” to mix the flavors, but there is already liquid , so the tall mortar is a must-have. Also you need the vertical room so you can add the shredded papaya and carrot, and have enough space to finish the dish entirely in that mortar.

Making Larb

Making Larb

Next came the larb. This dish is just so easy for Americans to love, and she explained that we would eat it in lettuce wraps and accompanied by sticky rice.

People commented on the healthy nature of this pork dish, compared to most. Patti pretty much steamed the ground pork in a saute pan, then added the other ingredients.

Here, as with the Som Tam we noticed her adjusting her recipe on the fly, adding sourness and saltiness as necessary after a couple key tastings. As if to placate the terrified crowd she explained that the limes here were just not as sour as she had become accustomed to in Thailand.

Now came the making of green curry. Nobody was expecting to see her cooking green curry paste in a frying pan, and then with the creamy top of a can of coconut juice, but that’s exactly what she did.

Making Som Tam with Thai Mortar

Making Som Tam (Papaya Salad) with Thai Mortar

Patti explained that you want to patiently wait until the coconut cream begins to separate before proceeding. She also said you should use the brand with a real thick cream if in fact you can’t get the real frozen coconut product.

People were visibly relieved when more ingredients were added, as it started to take on a restaurant-like appearance. Patti made a relatively spicy version, for green curry that is, and talked about the less ordinary ingredients like kaffir lime leaves and Thai sweet basil.

But things got raucous when the Pad Kee Mao (drunken noodles) was made. This is one of those pan fried noodle dishes that starts out with bold hot flavors and stays that way. Into a hot pan went garlic and Thai chili and the smoke began filling the kitchen!

Vanessa shows off a beautiful plate of Pad Kee MaoLuckily for all, the dish does not take long to complete. The remaining ingredients were added and the finished dish was plated in just about three minutes. Patti explained that the time required was really all devoted to the prep work.

“If you can’t get fresh noodles,” Patti explained, “soak these dry noodles in warm water while doing your prep work” and held up a pack of medium or large dry noodles as an example. She said not to overcook them into mushiness, but don’t make the mistake of trying to make them al dente like spaghetti; they should be soft!


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