My Thai Cooking Experience
For Christmas this year my girlfriend and I decided to get each other Thai cooking courses. The only problem was where, there are just too many in Bangkok to even think about any filtering process. It’s a case of knowing of a reputable place or going through word of mouth.
For Liz it was easy, she wanted to learn a vegetarian Thai cooking course because we eat so much meat, more pork anyone??? Our favourite vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok is May Kai Dee, who has 3 premises around Banglamphu so it was easy for us to get to. We used to eat there about once a fortnight and they run an established cooking course. For 1000B you can cook 10 dishes all of which appear on the menu. Of course you can substitute meat in any of the dishes but they are delicious in their original form so why bother, we know enough ways to cook meat.
For me it was a little more complex, I wanted to cook exclusively fish. As I mentioned we know enough ways to cook meat, and Liz had the veggie dishes wrapped up, so I started asking around, no-one seemed to know of a course that would deal only in fish, all the courses I enquired at dealt with the Thai staples, green curry and such like. I was considering a compromise when we were sat in May Kai Dees again one night when the waitress asked about Liz’s course and was she happy. I just happened to mention that I was also looking for a course but couldn’t find one. The waitress ran out the back and came back 5 minutes later asking what I specifically wanted to cook, as Mays sister would be happy to teach me. So I went out the back and had a chat with her and set up a date for the following Saturday.
It transpired that Mays sister used to be a chef in a 5star hotel in Bangkok until she had a back injury, gave it up and now only cooks in Mays in her spare time. I turned up at 9am on the agreed date and my only disappointment was that Mays sister had already gone to the market and bought the fish, but it was not a major thing.
So down to the cooking. We had a red snapper (pla tubtim), sea bass (pla kapong), 3 little fish (pla doo), some squid (pla meuk) and a catfish (pla duk) already bbq’d.
Menu:- Pla Nung Khing (Red Snapper steamed with Ginger)
Pla Kapong Nung Manao (Steamed Sea Bass w/ chilli, lemon and Garlic)
Chuchi Pla Doo (Red Curry and 3 little fish)
Phad Phet Pla Doo (Catfish curry)
Tom Yum Pla Meuk (spicy sour soup w/ squid)
The first thing was to steam the snapper after rubbing it with some salt, sugar, mushroom sauce and a special mix of coriander root, garlic and black pepper pounded in a mortar and pestle and covering it in shredded ginger and shittake mushrooms and carrot.
Next up we steamed the sea bass with the juice of 3 limes, a whole head of garlic, roughly chopped, 15 chillis, 2tbsp fish sauce, a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt.
The big fish done we covered them in coriander and left them. Now the more complicated recipes, which are probably too long to go into here but if any one would like them send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to oblige. So we cooked the pla doo next, followed by the catfish and finally the squid which only took minutes to do.
The cooking was finished by about 1pm and May was busy doing her vegetarian course for 3 people. At first I didn’t know what they would make of all this fish sullying their veggies, but it turns out they were really jealous and kept hovering around my station. Well all in all we had 7 whole fish and about 5-7 squid, way too much for me and my girlfriend to handle. So all of Mays children were running around and the people from the veggie course all joined in and we all chowed down to a fine lunch. The cost for this exclusive course 1300B, a bargain for 5 amazing dishes, the time it took and the general family atmosphere. The kitchen doubles as a front room with sofas, TV and school books and toys everywhere and we cooked on any available surface, something I have to deal with at home so quite enjoy.
If anyone is interested in cooking fish I can’t recommend anywhere better, if you go to May Kai Dees restaurant on Samsen Road. Go to the Gullivers end of Khao San and cross the road, turn right and carry straight on, get to the junction at the end of the road and cross over, go over the little humpbacked bridge and you are on Samsen Road. Go past the internet café and pawn shop, past the famous Adhere the 13th blues bar and about 5 shops further on. You will have to ask about the fish course, but sit yourself down and try some of the veggie fare first its aroy mak.
Now we live in the sticks and have a kitchen to ourselves we can cook to our hearts content. A kilo of shrimp costs 140B (£2), a live Snapper about 40B (80p) beheaded and gutted before your eyes. We are eating in most nights and it is all delicious veg and fish from the local market, with a bit of chicken thrown in. Maybe now I can do something about that belly I bought………