Family Thai's

Fish Cakes (Tod Man Pla)

Oh I have been looking forward to posting about this; my day the Cook’s Academy on South William St for a Thai workshop. It was a Christmas present from my brother who I must thank again, best present ever! (that is in no way a hint to family members for future Christmas or birthday presents…).  The course started at 10am on Saturday morning and we were welcomed with coffees and cookies.  The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of men in comparison to women, but it soon became clear when we were addressed and split into our two groups; the Thai workshop and a Men only class, ah ha the penny drops (great idea by the way, I already have the boyfriend in mind for that class!).

Our class were sent down to one half of the massive kitchen where there were four stations each accommodating 6 students.  We were provided with an apron and introduced to our instructor Hilary who described herself as being passionate about Thai food because it’s delicious, easy and also healthy.  There were also 2 more chefs there to help us called Arnie and Kari.  We got right down to business by watching a demonstration of how to make homemade Thai Green curry paste which was followed by returning to our groups and attempting a version ourselves.  Each group got a different paste to make, then a curry to make out of the paste and also a Thai starter.  This was a good way of mixing everything up as we were encouraged to visit the other groups and see what they were cooking also.  Our group got a Thai red curry paste with which we made a vegetable curry and our starter was chicken satay skewers.  We made the paste as a group and then did everything else in pairs. I learned from talking with my group that the majority of us at the course had received the workshop as a Christmas present, there were also a number of couples there and groups of friends, which is nice to do together but I quite liked going there alone and meeting new people.

 Ingredients for the curry paste

Thai Red Vegetable Curry

Hilary explained the basics of Thai cooking to us and assured us that once you have that down it is quite easy to master any dish.  To perfect Thai you need to achieve a perfect balance of flavours namely; salty, sweet, spice and sour; there is also a 5th flavour the elusive ‘umami’.  The umami taste is a little difficult to describe, Hilary defined it as a distinctive savoury/salty flavour that is found in the likes of fish sauce, shrimp paste and Worcestershire sauce.  Wikipedia describes it as “Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a furriness sensation on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth”, which basically sums it up but then again doesn’t!  So that’s what we were trying to master with our Thai cooking, the perfect balance, and the umami, simples! Learning to make the paste was fantastic and I will never return to jars, the difference is vast and that is down to the fact that you fry your spices (coriander and cumin seeds) and grind them yourself and also because we learned to use more exotic ingredients like shrimp paste and tamarind which can be bought easily in any Asian market.  You can also make the paste in large quantities and it will keep in the fridge but do not freeze it and also don’t add fresh herbs like coriander because this will cause the paste to go brown.  Add the herbs at the last stage of cooking when you are adjusting your flavours.
Thai Chicken Salad

Our morning session ended with a huge buffet lunch where we got to sample everyone’s dishes and was I ready for it; all the cooking had me salivating and I’m not ashamed to say that I went for 3 rounds (no judgement! I had to sample everything, it would have been rude not to).  All the food was fab, now I might sound a bit biased here but I definitely think that our group’s satay skewers and Thai red vegetable curry were the best! Close second were the fishcakes and the chicken salad which I will be attempting soon. In the afternoon we had a quick demonstration of how to make a fast and delectable Pad Thai which we then got to attempt, at this stage I was rightly stuffed so I packed that into my Tupperware for later.  Finally we were shown a simple exotic fruit salad and that was it! The time flew and I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed the day; the team were amazing, very helpful and answered any question we had. They were enthusiastic and also easy to follow so big kudos to the cooks academy (I am already planning to return for the Sushi workshop, *cough, hint!!).

Chicken Satay Skewers
One final note, after my success at the workshop, I somersaulted in spectacular style off the sobriety wagon, 21 days, ENOUGH!! I felt I deserved it and yes I enjoyed my first glass of wine, and my second..and my gin and tonic…you get the drift! Yes I’m weak but I’m also Irish, I can’t help it (that’s my excuse..).  Oh and Sunday I cooked a family dinner of  chicken satay skewers and Thai red vegetable curry, that’s where I was going with the ‘Family Thais’ title, get it…THAI’s…*tumbleweed.

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