When we left off, I’d just finished making a beautiful red curry paste and it was finally time to start cooking organic Thai food! We headed over to our individual workstations where the ingredients had been laid out. I thoroughly appreciated that each person had their own stove and was responsible for creating their own dishes as it allowed for hands on learning. I quickly put together my chicken red coconut curry using the curry paste I’d made. For all the details about how to make a coconut curry from scratch, see my last post.
Once my curry was ready, I was anxious to eat it and hoped we would do so right away, but unexpectedly, we were told to place it to the side while we made our noodle dish and our soup. The steps for creating both of these delicious, flavourful dishes are so easy I’m not even going to break it into bullet points. Neither took more than five minutes to assemble and cook (with the ingredients pre-chopped). The key to both of these were the fresh ingredients including all the organic vegetables and herbs from the farm. While I don’t believe that all the other ingredients were organic (in fact I doubt they were), I was still pleased to have chosen a cooking class that supported the livelihood of an organic, local farmer.
How To: Cooking Organic Thai Food
My noodle dish was the quick and easy Pat Tai. As the ingredients were already prepared, I literally only had to pan fry the shallots, pickled radishes, tofu and fresh rice noodles with soya sauce, fish sauce and brown sugar for a couple of minutes until soft. I then cracked the egg and cooked for a minute or so until it also cooked through. Then finally I added the chopped green onions and a squeeze of lime juice. It was so simple and looked so yummy. Surely I’d be allowed a little taste…
Begrudgingly I put aside my brilliant Pat Thai and focussed on making my soup. I was making Tom Yum, a traditional hot and sour soup, with shrimp. Sammy had provided fresh Thai herbs from the garden with which to make my broth and the air was quickly filled with mouthwatering aromas. In to the pot went tomatoes, onions, lemongrass, Thai ginger, kaffir lime leaves, a dash of salty fish sauce and a piece of chilli making what would be powerfully flavourful bowl of soup. Bringing it to a boil, I added the shrimp to cook briefly and as soon as the shrimp was opaque, I added a squeeze of lime and a sprig of cilantro to finish it off.
Finally, we got to eat! In making my selection, I tried to choose a variety of dishes including one with chicken, one with seafood and one that was vegetarian. I was surprised with how delicious my creations were. Even better, our group happily shared and I got to taste those dishes that I hadn’t cooked. Normally, it is not in my nature to eat from the plate of strangers, but there was a beauty in communal dining experience. As we shared our meals, strangers became friends and I was once again aware that good food can be a powerful source of connection and happiness.
After our huge meal, we had a lovely hour’s rest in hammocks under the shade of the banana trees that overlooked the rice fields. I appreciated the time to relax, but was itching to go on a tour of the farm. Sadly this wasn’t the case as while we rested, Sammy and his team were busy cleaning up and preparing for our next set of dishes which would include our appetizers and desserts. I must say my only complaint would be that I found the order of food preparation to be very bizarre. I couldn’t understand why we would cook and eat three mains at once, then later make two smaller dishes.
By the time we made our last two dishes the enthusiasm from most of my fellow participants had waned. We prepared the last two dishes in a group setting, not individually as before and it seemed anti-climatic. I would have preferred to have to make our appetizer, soup and a main to start, take a break then finish with the other main and dessert. However, I enjoyed making the spicy Som Tam (papaya salad), tasting the deliciously fresh spring rolls, sampling the famous mango sticky rice and finally learning the secret recipe of stewed bananas in coconut. (Spoiler – you stew bananas in sugary coconut milk!)
One of the aspects I loved most about Sammy’s teaching was that he and his wife explained what each ingredient was, where it came from, and what ingredients we could use as substitutes in our own countries. I have to give Sammy and his wife full credit for their well organized and well executed tour. Every detail from the lovingly prepared ingredients, to the well laid out kitchen, to the individualized attention, was excellent. I couldn’t recommend this tour more. During the rest of my travels, every time I saw Thai ginger floating in my soup or kaffir lime leaves in my curry I would think of Sammy’s incredible introduction to cooking organic Thai food.
Have you shared meal with someone special recently? Share your happy moment in the comments below!
Now It’s Your Turn! To visit Sammy’s Organic Thai Cooking School, I’d recommend booking through your guesthouse but you can also call him directly. Even if you aren’t travelling anytime soon, cooking can be an enriching way to experience a foreign culture while at home. Look up a recipe online, watch a youtube video tutorial or best of all ask a friend to teach you a dish that’s close to their heart!