This morning I went for a cookery class with On, who has a vegetarian/vegan restaurant down the road from my hostel.
“I hope you haven’t eaten a lot for breakfast,” she said. “You have a lot of cooking to do.”
On’s cookery class is a little different to some of the other cookery classes I’ve been to. When I called in to book a class she asked me to choose the dishes I wanted to make – three savoury and one dessert.
She handed me the restaurant menu and I struggled to make a decision- everything looked too good but I managed to come to some conclusions.
I arrived at On’s restaurant where we would be cooking overlooking the street.
On had prepared all of the ingredients, not only slicing and dicing but the necessary pre-soaking and boiling. At each point where I was using something pre-prepared, she explained how she had done it.
She also encouraged photography to help me remember the specific elements – especially to help shopping when I return to the UK.
As her sister lives just outside Manchester, she was actually able to tell me which marketsand stores to visit.
The first recipe was banana flower salad.
I love banana flowers – Vietnam gave me a taste for them. After slicing, it went into the work that I was using as a large mixing bowl along with chilli, garlic, soy sauce, a splash of coconut milk, tomatoes, cashews, spring onions and coriander.
This was a vegetarian cooking class and On told me that she uses soy sauce to replace fish sauce – which is used abundantly in Thai cooking. Mushroom sauce makes an excellent replacement for oyster sauce.
What I was to learn with Thai cooking is that it’s the preparation that takes the time. Once everything has chopped, mixing it all together to make the meal takes a matter of minutes.
And this was utterly delicious.
Rather than cook everything and then eat, On invited me to eat every dish as I prepared it. This was a very relaxing and enjoyable way to cook.
Next dish, pumpkin soup… “I don’t actually have a recipe for this,” said On.
So presumably every bowl will be different.
The pumpkin had already been boiled, with celery and with boiled water and coconut milk, On blended it before handing the blender of liquid to me.
Time to add the heat.
“The technique can be used for carrots,” said On before suggesting that adding spinach would be good too.
The only flavourings added to this were salt and pepper. Delicious.
And the final savoury… what could I possibly have chosen? What’s one of my favourite dishes? And, apparently a favourite of all Thai people?
Pad Thai, naturally.
So far,everything ai had made was vegan friendly but my request for egg to be included made this meal vegetarian.
Again, the speed at which the ingredients are stir-fried together is astonishing – a meal in mere minutes. Jamie Oliver would be thrilled.
Tofu (already cooked but crisped further), onions, tomatoes, carrots, beansprouts, pre soaked rice noodles, blanched cauliflower and broccoli were stored rapidly into the egg, while mushroom sauce was added and On asked me to add the chilli and garlic to my preference.
Social distancing will not be a problem later.
And once stired… served.
So dessert. I went with sticky black rice. Again, this was one where the ingredient were prepared, overnight with the soaking of the rice.
The colour comes from a dye and some sugar syrup to sweeten it.
The coconut milk used to make the dessert is heated first with some sugar syrup added. since thickened, a spoonful is taken for pouring over the dessert later.
The glutinous mass of rice breaks down rapidly when the sweetened coconut milk and heat are added…
… but then lumped together and before it was served, ai obviously had to sample. I love rice pudding so I was looking forward to this.
However, I couldn’t manage to eat it and took it away to eat later
I’ll get back to you.
A cookery class with On for one person cost 600THB and, as mentioned, I made three savoury dishes and one dessert.
On also offers video cooking tutorials on her Facebook page which will help me remember how to make this when I get home.
Is it wrong to say the food was delicious when I cooked it? No. I was following the directions of a very good cook who knows her stuff.