Ashburton Cookery School Day 14

A brilliant day of thai cooking today, full of some really punchy flavoured dishes. First up was spring rolls stuffed with pork mince, vermicelli rice noodles, oyster sauce and coriander. To accompany these we made a tamarind dip, using a lump of fresh tamarind. Wow was it sour! But it worked well as a contrast to the sweetness of the spring rolls. Alongside the spring rolls, we made thai fish cakes (Tod Mun Pla) with red curry paste, lime leaves, fish sauce, kra-chaai and fresh turmeric. To go with these we made Nam Aa-Jaad, a sweet, sour and spicy dipping sauce that really kicked. Next up was Tom Yum Kung, a hot and sour soup with tiger prawns, mushrooms, lime leaves, galangal, lemon grass, chilli , coconut and lime. We erred on the side of caution spice wise with this one but it still came out with a fair amount of heat. I really enjoyed this dish, it was quick and easy to make, light to eat but warming and comforting at the same time and was full of punchy flavours. Less speedy to make was our thai green curry, which required thirty minutes of grinding together a paste in a pestle and mortar, something I definitely do not have the arm strength for. Our hard work was rewarded, however, by one of the best curries I’ve ever tried, creamy without feeling rich, fragrant and with a gentle spice that melded together with all the other flavours rather than taking over. We used apple aubergines (which I’d never even seen before today) along with chicken in the curry, the aubergines adding a very slightly bitter note. While this curry definitely tasted far better than any thai green curry I’ve made myself, it wasn’t necessarily more attractive. Thai grey curry seemed a far more appropriate name! Dessert did better on the looks front…Pon-La-Mai Nam-Cheum, or, less exotically, fruit with thai syrup. For the fruit we used Galia Melons and some beautiful yellow mangos. The syrup was made with palm sugar and pandan leaves, which have a peculiar, almost musty smell but added a distinct perfumey flavour to the syrup. Topped with coconut cream, this made a lovely, light, exotic tasting dessert.

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