Me? Miss Suzy Homemaker who wants nothing to do with complicated cooking?
Give me an easy recipe and I’m happy. But Thai? All that chopping and prep work and stirring and spices. Who needs it? My best Thai dish is pad thai prepared from a box.
Yet here I found myself, apron donned, at a Thai Cooking course in Hua Hin.
But let me back up for a minute. You can’t just ‘cook’…oh no, you’ve got to go to the market and buy your ingredients first. Groan. More walking on a hot, humid day.
It is true, Thai food has gained in popularity in North America. Thai cuisine rates among the most celebrated global favourites due to its flavor and health value.
So, we purchased our fresh chicken breast filets and pork collar pieces, coconut, rice, water chestnuts and a myriad of herbs and spices from small stalls tended by local market keepers. My learning curve increased exponentially.
Because of this course I didn’t really want to attend, there are certain spices/herbs I now crave in my home-based cooking. Like Kaffir lime leaves (bai makroot). The leaf of this lime is used in soups, salads and curry dishes. Added at the end of cooking, it emits a sublime lime taste.
Tip: to prepare lime leaves first pull out the main vein. Then roll 4 or 5 half leaves and slice the roll very thinly (2mm).
I learned so much more about spices and herbs, the secret to successful Thai dishes AND their health benefits. Of many favourites, these three are only a sampling:
Galangal/Siamese ginger (kha) – also called Laos. From the same ginger family we are familiar with, of similar shape and colour. Used for curry paste, soups and salads. Dried galangal must be soaked in water before use.
Health benefits: Today galangal is used extensively in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine and is often thought to be more beneficial than ginger.
Lemongrass (Thakrai) – looks like a large piece of hard grass. Used in teas, soups, salads and curries. Only the lower part is used for curry pastes while the entire blade is used in soups and salads.
Health benefits: Lemongrass has been used since ancient times in Chinese medicine for conditions like flus, colds, headaches, abdominal pain, arthritis, fungal conditions and more.
Holy Basil (Krapow) – used in curry dishes and stir fries. Adds a hot flavour.
Health benefits: for use as a remedy for common physical and mental disorders. Acts as an adaptogen to fight the effects of ongoing stress; also balances the mind, nerves and emotions.
Finally, this course taught me much more than I anticipated about the Thai kitchen. It is a form of creative expression.
Want to try a dish? Click the link below for the fabulous Penang Curry with Chicken recipe. Bear in mind, our class prepared penang curry paste from scratch. Believe me---and lucky you---it’s easier to use Thai sauce mixes found in your supermarket’s Asian food aisle.
ทานให้อร่อย! Enjoy your meal!