Friday, March 6, 2009

Exotic Ready Steady Cook!

Well, having proclaimed my desire to write about everything I do and hopefully daily in an effort to get me ready for my New York jaunt, I must unabashedly apologise to your dear reader. I have been cooking up culinary delights aplenty, drinking copious amount of Singha beer and a strange rum substance known as Sing Som, kayaking through stunning scenery between vast karsts (the craggy rock islands of Krabi Province), lounging on beaches and partaking of the odd Thai massage (no happy ending!) and all I have written so far is two measly blogs. Well apologies are all I have and of course the power of the keyboard. I can found solace in retrieving some dignity by writing several recapping blogs for you over the next few days. That is if we have internet connection at our next destination, the strangely named Pu Island. Koh Pu or even Koh Jum as its sometimes known as, is about 2 hours south of my current destination and will involve not one but two boats to get me to my destination. The first boat will drop anchor somewhere at sea and await smaller boats to come and drag bags and tourists from the ferry to the topsy turvy unstable long boats that will take us to respective hotels. So far, I will leave my judgements about Pu Island until we get there. It will be shit if my bag ends up in the Adaman Sea mid transfer however. But I have been recently informed that Pu is Thai for crab so it may mean crab will appear on the menu when we arrive (yippee I can escape the shit jokes).
The last two days I have been cooking up a storm at the Siam Culinary School where the lovely Pin (my teacher and chef) rushed me through 12 dishes in the space of only 4 hours. Yes that's 12 (over two days I must say) and you have to eat them as you go as well, although I learnt the art of will power and doggie bags from my first visit, much to the delight of my house mates. Wonton soup from scratch - I loved making those little morsels and the soup was the best I had ever tasted. Thai fish cakes, chicken spicy salad, spring rolls, steamed fish in lime, steamed fish in banana leaves, chicken in pandanas leaves (getting good at all the origami for food), fried fish with three flavour sauce, paenang curry and massaman curry. On top of all that we had to empty the fridge out tonight at the apartment, so I rustled up a calamari salad in mint and coriander and lime, and some morning glory in an oyster sauce, compliments of Jesse the speckled yank who looks like Harry Potter. With doggie bags from the cookery school it was veritable feast yet again. This is in a kitchen without running water now, I must add - it would appear the local villagers are having water cut off in some political move, which is so inconsiderate for the farangs (us poor foreigners who have decided to stay in a village rather then the resort areas). We need our regular showers in this heat and to be able to flush the toilet in the middle of the night - yuk! (that was for you readers who were still salivating at the food itinerary above - cruel aren't I). I have been told by a very sexy woman that she will not read my blogs at lunch times any more after I described the anuses of kangaroos in detail in one of them. I bet she is reading at lunch time again - darn, I'll get another irate mail. Death threats will follow.
We actually headed to the local river for a dip this afternoon thinking we may not get a shower tonight. Then we had a downpour like no other, with lightning that lit up the sky and still no running water.
Anyway I digress - I seem to do that a lot. I was talking about Pin and the 12 dishes she rushed me through. I don't necessarily think she usually rushes people but it was one on one rather than a whole class as I was doing some advanced cooking class with her and at one stage I had 4 dishes all cooking at once which is cool because if I want to be working in a kitchen someday soon I should be easily able to handle this small challenge. It was like Ready Steady Cook though only without the clock just a Thai chef on speed or late for a date. Rushing along with assistants preparing some chopped vegetables first, my mortar and pestle crushing ingredients into exotic pastes at rates normally set for industrial food blenders. In one photo of me (with cleaver in hand) I looked positively insane. But it was all extremely fun. everything tasted so powerfully, and over and over I heard Pin's mantra "you want salty you use fish sauce, you want sweet you use sugar, you want spicy you use chillies, you want sour you use lime - salty, sweet, spicy, sour". She was lovely and when it came to spicy we had a few chuckles. Pin's idea of a little spicy was 30 chillies in a paste meant for one serving. My idea of spicy would be around 5 which is sweaty face burning mouth hot. Then she would just look at me with that comical look which said "OK farang let me see you sweat - how hot you want this dish huh!!!!" So obviously I had to rise to the challenge and go for local Thai hot. Pin thankfully admitted that I had asbestos for a throat as even my Thai fish cakes were hot for her. Once again in the cooking class the desert was the only dish fully polished off without doggie bag required. Thai deserts are usually sickly sweet but our sticky rice and mango or the banana in coconut milk and the black rice with coconut had both a salty and mild sweetness, that, combined with the luscious creaminess of coconut cream, made each dish heaven amongst burning fire spicy dishes.
So that was the cooking and the home kitchen has certainly had a workout this last few weeks. Now fridge is clear, the bags are packed and we are off to Pu tomorrow. So I will say goodnight and adieu for now and promise little prequel blogs about Malaysia and stuff (if we have internet on Pu that is). See ya for now.

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