After a morning of walking and ogling at exotic produce on our Blue Elephant Cooking School, Bangkok’s Market Tour, we’d whipped up quite an appetite.
Back in the classroom, we settled in like eager students on our first day back at school. Everyone rushed for the desks up front, hurriedly tied on our black aprons, and settled into our seats, holding out freshly sharpened pencils, quickly glancing through the recipe folders placed on our desks.
We were lucky to have our class taught by none other than Madame Noroor Somany Steppe herself (we later saw her face on a postage stamp and went gasp, we know a famous person) With 33 years of experience, the Founding Partner and Director, Senior Corporate Executive chef of Blue Elephant International, along with Mr. Steppe, runs a chain of 15 restaurants worldwide. Preserving the Royal Thai Cuisine, her recipes are those that have been authentically handed down over the generations, using local produce.
Introducing Royal Thai Cuisine, Chef Nooroor told us, there are typically 5 elements to a dish- aroma, spice, salt, sweetness and freshness. We were amazed to put that theory to the test, and find that it was, indeed true!
Of course, Chef Nut (a.k.a. Mister Bean), who was the regular teacher too, was present and he really did make us laugh through the class. We went systematically, first a demonstration of each dish, where we could observe, take notes, ask questions and then head to the professional kitchen next door to cook. One by one, we worked our way through a mouth-watering 4 course meal.
Starting with the Yum Som O (read on) we went on to Plaa Neung Ma-Nao (steamed sea bass with chili and lime dressing), we then cooked a lovely spicy Keang Pa Kai (Jungle Curry with Chicken) which just sent authentic Thai aromas wafting through the air. In fact, Madame Nooroor said, ” you should always stir the paste till the aroma informs the guests in your home that you are, indeed cooking.” What a beautiful way to put it. Moving on, we made a lovely Woon Sen Phad Kra Ti Fong Tao Hoo (Stir fried glass noodle with soy bean sheets) that had a lovely coconut milk base making it almost sweetish.
Through the class, we learnt several tips and rules for Thai Cooking. Knowing that we cannot substitute different kinds of gingers if they aren’t available back home, or that holy basil should only be used as garnish because it turns black if cooked, all of the lessons were priceless. Ones we’ll hopefully remember the rest of our lives to use whenever we cook Thai style. Taking down our notes, asking questions and tasting the dish in the classroom was real easy. But making a paste with a mortar and pestle, preventing our noodles from burning in the kitchen, while remembering the right order to put them in, was a mean feat. We were tired by the end of it.
Which was just as well, considering we moved on to the restaurant after the cooking, to enjoy our meal with the rest of the class and join