Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bringing Thailand home

Saturday saw the arrival of Tea's last Christmas present: a personal Thai cookery lesson with Annabel, of Annabel's Kitchen. Tea chose to make Tom Yum Goong soup, Beef Panang curry and vegetable Pad Thai. Annabel picked up all the ingredients at our local Asian specialty shop, and brought everything we'd need, including the cookware, this massive mortar and pestle, a food processor, those special dishes for the soup, and even the cooktop cleaner and wash-up liquid.

I think the biggest thing I took away from the afternoon, as an eager spectator -- well, and besides the extravaganza for my taste buds, obviously -- was the value of fresh, traditional ingredients. Fresh lemongrass is incredible, for example, and galangal, while similar to ginger, brings something a bit different to the soup.

I know Tea was excited to have one of her longstanding questions answered: how do they get the beef so tender? Braising in cocunut milk, apparently, and then storing it in a mixture of that braising liquid and more coconut milk. One final note on the ingredients: proper coconut milk is really a wet pulp; man, that stuff smelled so good!

Pad Thai can also be tricky. From start to plate was really quick, and it was amazing to watch Tea bring it together. There's also a specific time and water temperature for soaking the noodles beforehand to ensure they cook up just right.

And just when you think it can't get any better, you realize that all that clinking and splashing behind you is Annabel washing up as you dig in. Bliss!

Check out our Picasa album for more pictures from the lesson.

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