Last week, I went on a “scent journey” on the beautiful island of Koh Samui in Thailand. I was wearing my magazine editor’s hat as a guest of Procter & Gamble and Ambi Pur air care. Part of that journey was a four-hour cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts.
And what a “scent journey” that was! Fresh lemongrass, coriander, turmeric, basil, fresh peppercorns and other fresh, authentic Thai ingredients made for an exhilarating olfactory experience! Then when our carefully blended ingredients hit a hot wok—wow!
As both a keen cook and an author who writes characters who cook, this lesson was illuminating in many ways. Not to mention a whole lot of fun!
We learned to make Homemade Red Hot Curry Paste (Kruanh Gaeng Phad Phet); Stir-Fried Red Curry with Pork (Phad Phet Moo); Stir-Fried Mixed Seafood with Holy Basil & Garlic (Phad Khi Maou Talee); and Coconut Milk Soup with Fish & Turmeric (Tom Kati Kamin Pla). As I am not a fan of seafood, I replaced it with chicken in the recipes; tofu would have worked well too.
A group of ten of us lined up around a long table with our recipes, chopping block, knife and array of ingredients in front of us. We were guided step-by-step by our delightful instructor, Kim. First we made the red curry paste, then prepared ingredients for the three recipes. Kim told us all about the use and health benefits of each of the key items. Then we trooped into the kitchen with a row of gas burners and woks to cook each dish. As Kim pointed out, the preparation is where we spent the time, the actual cooking took mere minutes. (Oh, and did I mention we did all this in our bare feet?)
And then there was the eating…
Our three dishes were the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten! It was impossible to vote for a favorite dish—for me it was a tie between the red curry and the soup.
Fortunately for me, Thai food is incredibly popular where I live and the fresh ingredients to make these superb meals are readily available in both supermarkets and Asian markets.
Guess what my guests will be served at my next dinner party?