Thursday, July 31, 2014

One Man's Trash...

I love scouring the bodegas of people who hoard old furniture. This is the warehouse of one seller in Bangkal.

I always find something I know I can use... but I don't know where

My dream is to have a warehouse of my own so I can collect all of these old furniture myself..

I just know I can use this weathered red door somewhere.

And this sliding glass door would be a perfect divider between an "open kitchen" and an air-conditioned dining room.

Now where can I use this old vanity table?

Ah, and this Louis Philippe mirror is nicely weathered too. Just needs a little gold leaf and sanding.

Old warehouses full of discarded furniture--my favourite type of "window shopping."

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Trip to a Thai Market

Our  Maliwan Thai Cooking Class included a visit to the market to pick ingredients for the dishes we were going to make.

We bought round thai eggplants from this vendor for the green chicken curry. We chose similar sized ones so they cook at the same time.

Confused with all the strange produce?

Red  bird's eye chili, and pea cucumbers.

Our instructor Mae, choosing her produce.

A "tom yum" bunch--galangal root, kaffir leaves, lemongrass stalks--bundled together.

Wanted to help Mae with her list... but...nevermind.

Prawns of all sizes. That's about P450 a kilo.

Chilis in all sizes and colors!

This is what a galangal root looks like. The only use the root and not the stalk part.

And these are Kaffir lime leaves.

We only went down half this alleyway and we had complete ingredients.

Ingredients bundled up for a clam dish.

Live catfish jumping on the table.

Morning glory (aka kangkong), in all its forms.

Curry pastes and chopped garlic are readily available in the market--but we were making our from scratch today, excuuuse me.

Let's not forget the essential limes. In the summer, limes are quadruple the price and the produce has very little juice.

This lady had a big coconut grating machine. We were also going to make out own coconut cream and milk.

Garlic comes bruised with or without skin. This saves a lot of time in the kitchen.

Red cayenne peppers have no heat--they just add color.

Thai cooking uses coriander root, and unlike in other countries, you can actually just buy the roots.

We didn't need any dried fish but it looked nice to photograph.

At the fruit part of the market.

And I think we have a basketful of whatever we needed and more, for the class after ours.

Time to head back and start cooking.

Maliwan Thai Cooking Class, Bangkok

 Phad thai and Mango sticky rice

I was looking for something unique to do with G in Bangkok and found this cooking class on the Tripadvisor city guide app. I looked for more information on their website and emailed them from our hotel room.

With no money down, they confirmed my reservation for a class two days later. They also emailed me a map  for the taxi driver.

On the day itself, I made sure our hotel concierge talked to the taxi driver to explain exactly where to take us because some reviewers mentioned it could be confusing. 

 They are located at the end of an alleyway. The white door on the left is the entrance.

The alleyways leading to the cooking studio made me a bit uneasy--  where was I taking my daughter?! 

We rang the bell as instructed and were immediately brought upstairs to a cold air-conditioned waiting room. The rooms we passed on the way up were neat, orderly and clean--completely different from the outside alleyways. My apprehension was slowly evaporating--more so when we met Mae, our instructor for the day.

Today we were going to cook four thai favorites:  Tom kha gai or chicken coconut soup,  chicken in green curry, phad thai (thai noodles) and mango sticky rice.

Normally I wouldn't bother cooking these recipes at home because I'd have to search for the exotic ingredients.  However, this cooking class included a trip to the wet market with Mae.

G enjoys only a few thai dishes but she was eager to learn how to make the favorite dishes of C, who is currently away at camp.

We were the only two students this morning, so we had the teacher all to ourselves.

After a quick educational trip to the market, we were back at the studio raring to cook.

In our own cooking stations, we started slicing, chopping and pounding.  We were learning how to make green curry paste from scratch.

Mae explained why we were doing certain steps first than others. She has a very good command of  English and her teaching manner is methodical and clear.

From my station, I kept looking over at G while we were chopping and mincing because I was nervous she would hurt herself.  I had to hold my tongue and made a conscious effort not to say "careful while chopping, the knife is very sharp."

Stating the obvious wasn't going to be helpful and it might even undermine her confidence. Instead I said, "remember to curl your fingers the way tita Lita taught you", then turned my attention back to my own chopping board making sure I kept my fingers curled.
Mae taught us how to extract coconut cream and milk from freshly grated coconut

After prepping the curry paste and coconut milk, it was time for Mae to show us how the ingredients come together.  She demonstrated first then gave us a taste of what she cooked. It was always too spicy for us. Her recipe would include 7 bird's eye chilis (sili) and while ours would start with only one or two.

After watching and listening, it was our turn to fire up our stations--G in hers, me in mine--both minding our own woks.

From here, everything went quickly. Add this, add that. Mix a bit--add more this and that. Thai cooking always has three flavors Mae explains. "The sour comes from the tamarind paste, sweet from palm sugar and salty from fish sauce," she says as we adjust our recipes to our own taste.

 Chicken in green curry

Making the curry paste took the most effort and time. Everything else was a toss in the pan.

After the first two dishes, we went back upstairs to the airconditioned room where our feast awaited. I was originally planning just to taste the dishes, but both dishes were so delicious, I devoured everything.

After that lunch break, it was time to start the Phad Thai!

Like the two recipes before, the ingredients were pre-prepped and organized in our trays. We tasted those that looked unfamiliar and Mae described them.

We were also going to make the mango sticky rice at the same time.

Showing us the pre-soaked glutinous rice.

Timing is the challenging part of making the sticky rice. You have to pour the warm coconut milk into the just-cooked sticky rice and keep stirring, adding milk, stirring, until it reaches the right consistency. While that was setting, we were eager to start the phad thai.

Again, Mae demo-ed the phad thai from start to finish before we did it ourselves. Reading a recipe is one thing, but being shown exactly how the steps are done is always much better.

Mae's commentary is also invaluable.

 Now it's our turn!

After we made the phad thai and the mango sticky rice, it was back upstairs for us--to eat what we made.

While we were eating, I send off a Whatsapp photo to the lolas in Manila. "Look what G and I just cooked from scratch in Bangkok!"

They promptly replied "Okay, you guys are cooking for Sunday when you get back!"

Oops, me and my braggy big mouth!  Were we up to the challenge?

A handcarry with thai essentials

I spent the last couple of hours in Bangkok buying thai ingredients just in case we were.

The reviews in Travelocity were spot on. The cooking class was enjoyable because it was well-organized and Mae was an excellent teacher--thorough and patient.

It was also an experience to cook beside G like an equal and not like a hovering mom. I'm sure it was a confidence-building adventure for her.

I would take another class if I'm in Bangkok again--either with the kids or with a group of friends. It's a satisfying break from typical Bangkok shopping and sightseeing..but definitely not from eating!

Maliwan Thai Cooking Class
9 Sipsamhang Road, Taladyod
Phranakorn , Bangkok  10200, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2629 3719 (09:00-20:30)
Mobile: +66 (0)9 0006 3824 (09:00-20:30)
Fax: +66 (0) 2528 6041


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