Along with cooking we also learned how to carve these carrots out of flowers. Can you tell which one is Shefali’s and which one is mine? (hint: mine looks like it was carved using a knife and not my teeth)
I’m sure if you saw the previous post about pad thai, you’re aware of how highly I regard Thai food, both for its preparation and its dynamic flavors. Also, I’m a fan of employing badly shot vacation video from almost two years ago to give the few lucky readers of this blog an opportunity to savor more Thai food and watch Shefali and I stumble through the preparation of some basic Thai dishes. You see, the summer before last, before Kaya and her voracious appetite made themselves known – actually, I think Shef was in the early stages of pregnancy with K (aka “The Eater”) – we were fortunate to find ourselves in Chiang Mai, Thailand, recuperating from our trip to India. Believe me, Northern Thailand is the place to go for relaxing and eating. As full fledged tourists, we enrolled in a one day cooking class at the Siam Rice Thai Cookery School. Now, I fancy myself as somewhat knowledgeable about food and the way its prepared – Asian food in particular. Oh, I don’t know, maybe because I’m ASIAN? Sheeit! So I didn’t know how much I’d really get out of this class. Well, feed me some humble pie, because I got a whole lot of spicy goodness out of it. It was great! The recipes were obviously dumbed down for farang students, but what really came through (bubbled up to the surface as it were) was the importance of using the freshest ingredients and cooking things quickly and with the intensity of high eat to seal in flavors. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but some of dishes I cooked in this class, I’d consider among the best Thai food I’ve eaten. So without further ado, please enjoy these two videos which chronicle both our trip to the market and our cooking class. Please enjoy!
About a month ago Shefali, Kaya, and I had the pleasure of spending almost twenty hours on two planes (with one layover) to travel 8,651 miles to Bangkok, exactly twelve hours ahead (timewise), where we would spend four short days before another two and a half hour flight (on one plane) to Hong Kong for another four short days. Then we came home. End of story. Actually no. We went to Bangkok and Hong Kong to spend our winter break with Shefali’s family in Bangkok and my family in Hong Kong. But more on that in a future (possible) post wherein I just talk about all the “first” foods that Kaya ate. Yeah, I’m that dad.
This post is about pad thai, specifically the pad thai found at Luang Pha Pad Thai restaurant in Bangkok. You know, that place on Maha Chai Road, a stone’s throw from the Wat Saket? Yeah that one. Ok, to be honest, we had some insider knowledge. Shefali’s sister (not Thai) and her husband (Thai) told us about this place a year and a half ago when we visited them. And boy were we appreciative. The flavor of that pad thai and the simple but elegant way it was prepared were etched into my memory. Plus I took lots of photos.
Shef wants this pad thai and bad… This is from our first trip to Luang Pha.
This small woman is a giant among cooks
But seriously, watching this diminutive woman wielding this massive wok reminded me of what a pleasure it is to watch someone who is really good at what they do. Each gesture and motion is effortless, the perfect expression of thought into action. There is no wasted effort – efficiency epitomized. Or, maybe it’s because this is her job and she does it everyday. In any case, the results are ridiculously good. So, this past trip, Shefali and I brought her mom and her sis (and of course Kaya) along to experience quite possibly the perfect pad thai. Please enjoy some photos and be sure to watch the video above which shows this awesome cook in action. You might even learn how to cook some real pad thai. Though good luck finding the shrimp fat oil…
Luang Pha on busy Maha Chai Road. Because pad thai should be enjoyed with the soothing sounds motor scooters zooming by.
This year, pad thai was a family affair
View of the kitchen
Tools of the trade.
This is how she does it.
Mmm… shrimp fat oil.
The stove: an electric fan that blows air into a wood fire to increase the heat. Genius!
Pad thai wrapped in an egg omelet.
Saheli holds Kaya who wishes she could eat this.
Me and the cook. I’m not really a giant. She’s just tiny.
It might surprise you, as it did me, that MY mom is not the only Chinese mom in the world who knows a thing or two about cooking. Imagine. Well according to my friend Jason, HIS mom makes a mean dish of chow mein that blows the socks off of Chinese restaurant chow mein – that is if chow mein wore socks. Well, fortunately for all of us Jason convinced his mom to cook up a batch. And even more fortunately, he made a video of her doing it so we may all learn how to make this mean dish of chow mein. I’ll let Jason do the honors of introducing his mom’s chow mein. Enjoy!
I luckily grew up in a household with a loving mother who happened to be a great cook. Lacking her cooking prowess, I finally asked my mom to teach my wife and me how to make one of her best dishes: Chicken Chow Mein. My mom agreed and showed up to our place ready to cook! She didn’t know we would be putting her instructions on video and posting it to the rest of the world. After a few grumbles about her appearance, she agreed to be on camera and started instructing like a pro.
We picked this dish because I have never found Chow Mein like hers. She uses standard size noodles, but pan fries them until they are crispy. When the crispy noodles soak in her incredible gravy/sauce, magical things happen. I am very happy we got her instructions on video and will be shocked if we can ever duplicate what she does so well.