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Tuesday, January 7: Day 260 – Thai Cooking

Today we attended a much anticipated Thai cooking class. Rob selected a class where each couple will prepare three dishes. We chose from 180 recipes complete with pictures.

Our taxi picked us up at our villa. His name was Chi. He dropped us off at the fresh market where we met one of our chefs named Praiwan. He was our guide to learning about Thai fresh produce.

Here are some of the things that we discussed:

100% of the people of Thailand love mango.

Jackfruit is an interesting large fruit that is related durian.

Durian smells really bad so if you can’t take it, jackfruit tastes similar without the smell. Thai love it, but westerners don’t. Thai feel the same way about our blue cheese. (I wonder how you know that it has gone bad if it smells bad from the beginning?)

We saw a sweet and sour boiled egg. Pumpkins do not look like the ones that we are used to seeing in the fall.

Spicy is followed by sweet so after eating curry, fruit is offered.

Unlike Western dry noodles, noodles are prepared by pressing the dough into boiling water and these are then purchased.

There are things called stinky beans, Thai olives and wat gourd.

Tumeric is used to make stock. Peanuts are used in Panang curry.

Yams are used in curry, not for baking as in the West.

Tamarind juice is used instead of lime for a sour flavor in soups. It is also used like the West uses salt for tequila.

Chili peppers are green and red. The green ones are picked earlier and are milder. One continues to grow the green ones until they turn red and hotter!!

Green papaya and snake beans are used in salads. Thai use snake beans like the West uses carrots.

Once we had all our ingredients to make our dishes, we walked from the fresh market to the kitchen. We were met with air conditioning and a friendly instructor named Stephanie from France. She had an herb and flower garden.

After donning aprons and washing our hands, we got right to work.

The first thing that we did was to infuse blue butterfly pea flowers with boiling hot water. For an additional flavor, we added lemongrass. We let it sit for 15 minutes.

The infusion was a beautiful color of blue. See below. If one adds lime juice which is acidic, it will become purple.

Most of the dishes that we prepared required a mortar and pestle. In the West we would likely use a blender. It was difficult to get the hang of it, but I think the mortar and pestle works better, and it seems more eco-friendly.

Here is our menu. Rob and I made:

  • Spring rolls with pork and shrimps
  • Banana fritters and coconut sauce
  • Fried Rice with Prawns, Pineapple, and Cashew Nuts

William and Elle, the young couple, made:

  • Salad parcels in wild pepper leaves (Muang Kham)
  • Spicy prawn soup (Tom Yam Kung)
  • Massaman Chicken Curry

Amy and Julie, the sister couple, made:

  • Coconut-lemongrass ice cream
  • Pad Thai with Tofu and Prawns
  • Galangal coconut soup with raviolis

At last, we are able to eat our tasty and beautifully displayed dishes.

It was a fun day and we learned some new things. We rode back to our villa for a relaxing swim.

We keep hearing this bird whose call has two notes that gets higher and higher. I asked Pi what it was, and he said kawau. Further research called it a cormorant. If it is a cormorant, I learned that it is not of any concern for extinction as it is placed in the category of least threatened (LC).

Here are the different categories that each living thing is categorized.

Extinct (EX) – beyond reasonable doubt that the species exists.

Extinct in the wild (EW) – survives only in captivity.

Critically endangered (CR) – in an extremely critical state.

Endangered (EN) – very high risk of extinction in the wild

Vulnerable (VU) – at high risk of unnatural (human-caused) extinction without further human intervention.

Near threatened (NT) – close to being at high risk of extinction in the near future.

Least concern (LC) – unlikely to become extinct in the near future.

Data deficient (DD)

Not evaluated (NE)

Amy boldly dyed her hair in the fall. It is a beautiful shade of red. Her hair catches the sunlight on the beach. She calls it Kim Possible.

Even though she rocks the color, she doesn’t intend to continue with it.

However, it has a grown out beautifully to where she can continue to create some interesting hairstyles.

I call this one her tiger look.

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