Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cooking School

I live less than two hours from Los Angeles, but I only go there a couple of times a year. Today I had one of those days that makes me glad I live so close. I went with some friends down to Culver City to The New School of Cooking to take a class in fresh Thai cooking. I like Thai food a lot, but now I feel like I understand it better. The girl who taught the class just happened to be Thai; she taught a souffle class the last time I went. We did all of the cooking ourselves, but she gave us a cultural/culinary introduction beforehand. Her description of the peppers that are traditionally used in Thai cooking was a little daunting. She said that we might want to kick it down a step with habaneros if the Thai chilies were too hot. Habaneros are milder??? Yikes!
We worked with partners. I cooked with one of my ex-students who I now teach with, and is now one of my best friends. We prepared "Dry Style Panang Curry," which was exceptionally good, without being too hot or strange....except that it has pork belly in it...which was strange to me. I really don't think we should eat pigs, but they are so darn tasty, even their bellies!

Our "Dry Style Panang Curry" is in the small bowl on the far left. The cream-colored dish was called "Seasonal Thai Vegetable Curry, and it was also delicious, as was the clam dish right next to it.

Dry Style Panang Curry

2 Tbsp. oil
1 lb pork belly, sliced into thin tiles
1/2 yellow onion (thinly sliced)
1 cup coconut
2 -4 Tbsp. Panang Curry Paste
2-3 Kaffir Lime Leaves, julliened
1/2 cup Thai Sweet Basil (Whole with stems)
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Tamarind Paste
1/4 red bell pepper, julliened

Heat oil on high in a skillet and add pork belly. Brown the pork stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Drain excess oil.

Stir in 3 Tbsp. of thick coconut milk, curry paste, onion, and lime leaves. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds until paste starts to brown.

Stir in remaining coconut milk into curry paste. Increase heat to high until boiling. Allow to boil for about 5 min. or until reduced by half.

Add basil leaves, fish sauce, Tamarind paste, and sugar. Adjust flavors if necessary and serve garnished with bell peppers.

Red Curry Paste

15-20 red chile (Serrano or Thai) Dry if fresh is unavailable
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
5 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1'' section Galanga (Try finding that in Kansas, ha,ha)
2 - 4 Tbsp cilantro roots or stems
1/2 tsp. coriander, ground
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2-1Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. shrimp paste
2 Tbsp. oil (if needed)

Seed and soak the chiles in hot water until tender if using dried.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to use.


Thimbleanna said...

Ooooh, that looks like lots of fun! I can only imagine trying to find some of those ingredients around here -- a challenge to be sure!

Rani said...

What an adventure! My mouth is watering.

Willow said...


I love Thai food! And it is very similar to Indonesian cuisine, which I cook on a regular basis. But I don't use pork belly or fish paste.

It sounds like you really enjoyed your day.

Tracy said...

So much fun! And what a great recipe... I just love Thai food! Thank you for sharing ((HUGS))

marit said...

Oh, this looks so good! I need to find something to eat....

Knittings Nice! said...

What great fun you had, everything looks scrumptious.