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 Madame Nooroor for a passionate chat over dessert. We were handed over cooking kits and aprons to take home. We thoroughly enjoyed the day, and while we went home with our bellies full, we were more satisfied by all that we had seen and learnt. We all raised our glasses to a meal well earned.
We’re reproducing one of the dishes here, for you to enjoy. The recipe has been adapted from Madame Nooroor’s to incorporate her tips and suggestions.
Yum Som O (Authentic Pomelo Salad)
- 80 grams pomelo/ grapefruit (separated into small pulps)
- 2 pieces prawn (cooked, deshelled, deveined, tail attached)
- 20 grams chicken breast (cooked, shredded, dunked in ice water)
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp (ground)
- 1 tbsp roasted peanuts (ground)
- 1.5 tbsp roasted grated coconut (or desiccated)
- 1 boiled quail egg (cut in half)
- Optionally you can add lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaf
- .5 tbsp Nam Prik Phaow (Thai roasted chilli paste, recommended brand- Mae Pat Nom)
- 1 tbsp tamarind juice
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- .5 tbsp fish sauce
- .5 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp deep fried shallots to sprinkle
- 4 pieces deep fried dried red chillies
- Dry roast grated coconut in a non-stick frying pan without oil until light brown.
- Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
- Mix in the chicken and cooked prawns. (Meats best added right after the dressing so it is absorbed well)
- Add the pomelo flesh and mix lightly (taking care not to burst the pulp)
- Mix in the dried shrimp, roasted peanuts, roasted coconut, and some of the deep fried shallots.
- Arrange salad leaves on a serving dish and place the pomelo mix on it, topping it with deep fried shallots, quail’s eggs, and deep fried dried red chillies.
- Serve at room temperature.
The Blue Elephant Cooking School & Restaurant 233, South Sathorn Road, Yannawa, Bangkok 10120 (near Surasak SkyTrain station) www.blueelephant.com cooking.school@BlueElephant.com 02673-93538
Open 7 days a week, the school holds morning classes from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm and afternoon classes from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm (However, the afternoon class has a dessert lesson instead of the market visit from the morning class) Classes from THB 2,800 ++ for a half day’s class. Private classes available as well.
The restaurant is open 7 days a week, from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm for lunch and 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm for dinner.