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Thai cooking class in Miami Beach

Terrific Thai Cooking Class in Miami Beach – here’s a shot of our red curry with beef!

Last week we returned to Miami Beach for another Thai cooking class. All hungers were satisfied as we cooked up batches of green and red curries, ginger chicken, tom yum goong, and Thai iced tea to wash it all down with.

If you’re looking for a private cooking class, contact me and let me know what kind of menu you’d like to learn. Be sure to be hungry when I arrive too, as we don’t take any food home!

Thai Food Feast for a Family Buffet

During the recent holidays we visited relatives, like so many people do. While there we decided to make a big Thai feast to celebrate Dad’s birthday! So we gathered piles of fresh and frozen ingredients, and planned a buffet supper supreme!

I started out with that staple that pleases everyone, Pad Thai noodles. I made a batch with gorgeous large tiger shrimps, and it came out wonderful. I also put some sliced chicken in it, for anyone who didn’t want to eat shrimp.

Thai food feast

Green Curry was the next dish. Actually I cooked this dish first, since I only need to let it sit over low heat until everything else is ready to go. I cooked a mild batch with chicken and made rice to eat with it. I used a different brand of green curry sauce than my usual Maesri brand, and I was not as happy with the resulting color and thickness.

Also shown is mapo tofu, which I love to make for parties because it’s just so easy to make, and seems to be a great hit every time.

Yum Woonsen was next, one of my favorites for any occasion. I used more of those tiger shrimps, since they looked so nice and we had plenty. This was probably the least popular with the guests, who were not real Thai culinary veterans.

And then there was the crowd pleaser, gyoza – homemade pork dumplings. It’s so fun to learn how to make dumplings with family members sitting around a table pinching, stuffing and pleating these little treats. Our gyoza (dumplings) came out wonderfully!

Everyone had plenty of food, loads of compliments for the chef (yours truly) and to top it all off, we had leftovers to enjoy the next day! Who could ask for more?

Thai Cooking Class aboard Zoom Yacht

We cooked up a storm in our Thai cooking class on the Zoom yacht last week, in a galley fit for royalty. But lest you think this was all about the wonderful ship and galley, let me tell you about the food!

Fancy Thai cooking class A+ students

We cooked up a big batch of green curry first, featuring some gorgeous, fresh kaffir lime leaves. We shredded them up finely and got a great lime boost in our potful of curry. We also used the creamiest possible coconut milk – yum! And the clincher – we had beautiful, fresh Thai eggplants to use too. Not just the mature ones either, we used the “baby” eggplants as well.

First class Thai cuisine on the yacht^^

Next up came our Tom Yum Goong. We were able to use giant Italian prawns; some of the nicest-looking crustaceans I’ve ever seen. And this sour soup was destined for greatness anyway, benefiting from an amazing collection of fresh ingredients, including fresh galangal root, just picked Thai chillies and freshly cut lemongrass straight from the garden.

Tom Yum Goong

Pad Thai noodles created by my A+ cooking class students^^

Of course, where there are Thai food lovers, there will always be demand for Pad Thai. We used some of those gorgeous prawns, as well as chicken to cook two large pans’ worth. It really came out tasting good, and we made a huge platter full for the hungry folks on board.

Patti's Green Curry w/ Italian prawns

And for desert, the Thai standard called “Tub Tim Krob” which we made using red and yellow colors. This crunchy, sweet desert really hit the spot after eating all the other food.

Beautiful and delicious Tub Tim Krob

Lunch Meetup at Thai Delight, Deerfield Beach

We recently had a special lunch meeting with our good friends Christine, from SouthFloridaFoodandWine.com, and Chef Tulio, executive chef at Andrews of Boca Raton. We ate at the Thai Delight restaurant located in the strip mall on the NW corner of Hillsboro and Military Trail.

Since I’ve lived in South Florida, I have been going to this restaurant from time to time. They have been in business for more than a decade. It’s a family-owned and operated restaurant, run by a well educated couple who were teachers in a famous private school in Bangkok.

I like eating curries there because they have a strong herb flavor and authentic taste. You can’t imagine the delicious meal the four of us enjoyed 🙂

Here’s the menu:

Satay –  grilled chicken served with fresh peanut and cucumber sauce.

Satay Chicken

Shrimp in Blanket – Deep fried shrimp spring rolls stuffed with chicken, cliantro and garlic served with plum sauce.

Shrimp in Blanket

Curry Puff – Ground chicken, onions and curry powder wrapped in spring roll wrappers

Curry Puff

Thai Steamed Dumpling – stuffed with shrimp, chicken, water chestnuts, shiitake mushroom, scallion, served with special sauce or sri racha sauce

Steamed dumpling, photo by Christine Najac

Green Curry Shrimp – Shrimp, bamboo shoots, bell pepper, fresh basil leaves in green curry served over rice.

Shrimp Green Curry

Green Curry Shrimp

Pad Kee Mao – Stir fried noodled with chicken, basil sauce and fresh basil leaves. Thai spicy dishes are perfect compatible with Thai Singha Beer!

 

Spicy Noodles (Pad Kee Mao), photo by Christine Najac

Fish Ginger – Steamed fish with fresh sliced ginger, celery, carrot

 

Fish with Ginger Sauce

We got a sweet treat from Thai Delight for dessert. It was that Thai standard – homemade mango with sticky rice. A really nice touch was that I could smell the fragrance of jasmine water in the sticky rice. It makes remind of sweet sticky rice I used to eat in Chonburi, my mom’s hometown 🙂

Mango with sweet sticky rice

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!


Announcing Thai cooking class Nov. 6th at 5pm

Due to high demand the first Thai cooking class sold out right away. As the waiting list formed, we decided to add another Thai cooking class on Saturday, Nov. 6th at 5pm with Chef Jorge & Vanessa Montes . The signup is here: homemade chefs.

We’re going to use the same menu, to give others a chance to get the same dishes. Early next year we’ll probably start a second menu, to give people a chance to learn different dishes. The upcoming classes are featuring these foods:

  • Larb – ground pork salad seasoned with lime juice, fish sauce, roasted rice powder
  • Thai Tea
  • Fresh green papaya salad (Som Tam) with sticky rice, popular throughout Thailand
  • Green Curry with coconut milk. You can eat with white rice or Kanom Jeen
    (round rice noodles)
  • Pad Kee Mao (Drunken noodles). “Pad” means “stir-fry” and “Kee Mao” means “drunkard”- made with chicken, garlic, fresh thai chili and basil.
  • Thai Donuts dipping w/condensed milk and ground peanuts.

The class length is approximately 2 and 1/2 hrs, as we really dig in and make some great food. Oh yea, we’ll be eating all our creations!

The class is filling up fast, so signup if you want to attend. Let’s do it now!!!

See details >>

Thai Cooking Class on Oct.22nd

I grew up in the family that was passionate about Thai culture and Thai cuisine. But I took it for granted growing up, because I was raised in Bangkok, where food is absolutely everywhere.

But after I graduated from university, I started living abroad. I had to practice cooking Thai food because it was no longer available on every street corner! And since then I’ve had the chance to cook and experience Thai cuisine using local ingredients too.

Now, in South Florida I can pretty much get all the real ingredients since the weather here allows Thai grocery owners to grow the same herbs and vegetables. But I think it’s fun and interesting to experiment with the classics!

And I love to share Thai culture and my love of Thai food! So come and join in the fun and food on Oct 22nd!

Menu:

  • Thai Tea
  • Larb – is a type of meat salad, made with ground pork, chicken or duck and favored with fish sauce, lime juice, fresh herbs. Served with fresh veggies.
  • Som Tam – fresh green papaya salad with carrots, tomatoes, green beans, garlic seasoned with lime juice, fish sauce and chili. Served with fresh veggies
  • Sticky Rice – eat with Larb and Somtam
  • Green Curry Shrimp with coconut milk, chili paste, fresh shrimp, thai eggplant, basil. Served with rice or noodles
  • Drunken Noodles or Pad Kee Mao made with rice noodles, pork, shrimp, veggies, garlic and seasonings
  • Thai Donuts dipping w/condense milk and ground peanuts

Class length: Approx. 2 1/2 hrs

Can’t wait to meet you all and come hungry!!! See details >>

Thai chili

Spicy Thai chilies ready to eat

Spicy Thai chilies ready to eat

I’m so glad that the Thai chili seeds I planted early this year grew so well. Now some of them have turned red and green, and are ready to use cooking my Thai dishes.

 

There are many types of Thai chili used in Thai cooking.

  • Bird’s eye chili (Prik Kee Noo) – 1 inch, the hottest one in Chili family
  • Chilli Spur Pepper (Prik Chee Fah) – 3-5 inches, it’s not hot, but used its for coloring and for decoration
  • Sweet Pepper (Prik Yuak)
  • Green Pepper Chili (Prik Noom)
  • Dried Chili
Thai chilies growing in my garden

Thai chilies growing in my garden

Thai chili is also know as พริกขี้หนู (Prik Kee Noo) or Bird’s eye chili. It’s commonly found in South East Asian countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.

 

These Thai chilis look small but they pack lots of heat inside the seeds. Please be careful if you’re not use to with the fresh chili heat. It’s more spicy than Mexico’s Habanero chili.

Thai gourmets commonly use fresh chili to cook many dishes such as yum (Thai spicy salad), namprik (น้ำพริก), som tam (green papaya salad), pad thai, spicy & sour soup (Tom Yam), pad thai, tom kha gai, green curry, red curry, chicken basil, etc.

Actually Thai chili is rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and has numerous other health benefits. For example:

  • Helps stimulate the appetite of the stomach. If eating in a small volume reduces the occurrence of ulcers in the stomach.
  • Thai red and green hot chilies

    Thai hot chilies

  • Prevents from cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  • Helps relieve pain from muscles, shoulders, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Help burn fat and lose weights
  • Help clear mucus and reduce sinusities
  • Resolve pain, vomiting, tired
  • Help fight inflammation
  • Help Soothe Intestinal Diseases

We should all eat more Thai chili! If you don’t have a strong tolerance for the heat, avoid using the seeds in your food. Thai chili will give your food a kick, and make your life more spicy 🙂

Tokyo Blue in Fort Lauderdale, FL

We heard there was a hot new place to eat in Fort Lauderdale called Tokyo Blue, and this week we got a chance to try it out. Their menu contains a large variety of Thai dishes including soups, entrees, and desserts. We tried a bunch!

Executive Chef Mai runs the kitchen here, and oversees everything in the back of the house. Chef Mai hails from Thailand, but he spent the last several years sharpening his culinary skills working at Nobu. Now he is running the Asian kitchen in this terrific oceanside restaurant.

Pad Thai Shrimp at Tokyo Blue

Pad Thai Shrimp

Of course we tried the Pad Thaihere, it has a good taste. The flavor of the sauce perfectly matches the American palette.

Our Tom Ka Kaisoup was fiercely authentic in composition, yet this Thai classic is served with enoki mushrooms, a Japanese variety, as a garnish. We’ve not seen a restaurant outside Thailand serve Tom Ka Kai with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal as the dish warrants.

Tom Kha Kai at Tokyo Blue

Tom Kha Kai

I thought it was just a bit too thick, and personally I liked to prepare it a bit more sour, but it had a wonderful depth of flavors. Few patrons will appreciate the mastery Chef Mai exhibits by preparing this dish with a purely classical approach. But take it from me, he pulls it off brilliantly!

Their Bali Lobsteris also an interesting dish. It’s basically Poo Pad Pong Garee, a Thai yellow curried crab dish, but done up with lobster and squid and other seafood and served in a lobster shell. It’s a crowd pleaser, and the quantity of food piled into that shell meant there was plenty to go around. The perfect one-word summary for this dish is simply “wow.”

Bali Lobster

Bali Lobster

We enjoyed Whole Fried Snapper with a ginger sauce. There was not enough sauce on ours, but the fish was cooked to perfection and was topped with shredded scallion and thin sliced red onion. It is also available in a Thai basil sauce that is probably the way to go here. We’ll let you know about the basil sauce next time!

The most impressive item is Green Curry. He makes a huge effort to get it right, even using Thai eggplants and bamboo shoots. Few dishes here make no attempt to add a twist or two to classic recipes but this dish is unsullied by western influence.

Green Curry w/Thai eggplants

Green Curry w/Thai eggplants

Thai people take this cuisine seriously, and Chef Mai apparently respects that time honored food too much to improvise. It is served in a coconut highlighting that rich favor profile. That even makes the food seems more authentic and fun. Chef Mai told me that he gets most of these Thai ingredients from New York.

Their Sweet Sticky Rice and Mango is an authentic classic, found everywhere in Thailand. They use the real Thai mango varieties too; pictures we’ve seen show this dessert served with Okrung mangoes, but when we tried this, it came with Nam doc mai, a heavenly mango that’s more tangy.

Tokyo Blue doesn’t sound like a Thai restaurant from the name, but the food says otherwise. Overall Tokyo Blue has to get a standing ovation for it’s great food. Chef Mai has the kitchen putting out some of the most delectable Thai cuisine this side of Bangkok. Aroi Maak Maak!

 


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