“Hot things come in small packages”

Warm air coated the market in a haze of green, red and yellow.   The flies buzzed, waiting for their next landing target, whilst the fan swished, and twirled the stolen pom pom strings over the fish and meat to keep them away.

“Coconut cream, you want to know how it is made?” Pon asked us. Our small group collected in front of him, eyed the big silver monster of a machine behind Pon.

We nodded.

Pon then took one of the other girls hands and squeezed the freshly grated coconut over it. We watched mesmerised as the smooth creamy liquid dribbled over her hand.

Today was day two at cooking school. A trip to the market was first on the agenda.

As is typical in Thailand and many other Asian Countries, open air food markets are the most popular and cheapest way for locals to purchase groceries.

Some of the “produce” included bags of live frogs, slivering slimy eels and you could watch the spectacle of men butchering cows, pigs or chickens in front of you.

It was an experience to say the least.

Our task was to collect the days ingredients, courtesy of Pon’s four “Mothers” at the market. Herbs, chillies, potatoes, and big bunches of green stuff accompanied us in the van, on our way back to the school

Today’s menu started with Pad Siew, similar to Pad Thai, but using thicker rice noodles. The noodles are soaked in Soya Sauce before being fried along with onions, garlic, Chinese brocoli (kale) and bound together with egg. It takes all of about 10 minutes to create – and I thought fired noodle dishes were hard.

Pad Siew, a popular Thai noodle dish
Pad Siew, a popular Thai noodle dish

After a quick eating break – we have quite a few of these here – we headed back to the demo room.

Now it was time for some more complex flavours. First up, Spicy fish wrapped in Banana leaves.

The fish is par fried along with chili (a common theme in Thai cooking), garlic, pea eggplants, eggplants, and a selection of high powered spices. Then carefully placed inside a banana leaf, before your origami skills are put to the test to fold it into a package. I was intrigued to taste this culinary delight after it had finished 30 minutes in the steamer.

However, while it was steaming away, the next two dishes were to be prepared in record time. The dishes were obviously named for obscurity, Yellow Curry with Chicken and Chicken with cashew nuts, not.

We watched, before taking our turn to chop, fry, combine and toss our meals together on a plate.

The results, I will let speak for themselves;

I am sure you can imagine that after that delicious looking meal, I was feeling fairly full. Yet, it was time for two more culinary master pieces before I could deliver Craig’s doggy bag.

Spicy Prawn Salad. The salad is created by finely chopping lemon grass, garlic, chili, shallots and spring onions, and combining them with boiled prawns, chili jam and fish sauce. The result: a very hot salad, let me just add here that the smaller the chili the hotter it is, the top of my mouth is still recovering.

Prawn salad prior to the mouth burning incident.
Prawn salad prior to the mouth burning incident.

What better way to help it recover than by eating steamed bananas in creamy coconut soup?

Infused with Pandanus leaf, these sweet steamed banans and  creamy coconut, topped off our meal perfectly.
Infused with Pandanus leaf, these sweet steamed banans and creamy coconut, topped off our meal perfectly.

I waved goodbye to my culinary partners in crime, and vowed to use very little of the very little chili peppers in the future.

Next class, Curry Paste and this time Craig is coming along for the ride.

Ginga musings, complete.

If you are interested in more culinary adventures:

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