So, today was a long-awaited Thai cooking class at the home of the teacher in Fremont/Union City. P was supposed to have taught the last class a couple of months ago, but had a catering gig to do, so it was taught by someone else, on the grounds of the Thai temple. It was cold and rainy and windy and not that much fun. Janice drove this time. And I remembered to take my camera. I took the 50mm 1.4, thinking we would be in a well-lighted kitchen or dining room, but would have been better off with the 18-50 2.8 since we were mostly out by the pool, and there were no good angles for group photos at 50mm.
And of course the skies were overcast and it looked like rain.
P was helped by her husband, W. IRL P is a preventive services nurse, who had her own restaurant in San Carlos for a while. W is even more at home cooking, he is the head of food services at UCB. He kept talking about his time in the CIA, but that turned out to be the Culinary Institute of America. W is American, but speaks a bit more Thai than most men who marry English-speaking Thai women.
Both of them delightful people, and wonderful at teaching restaurant-style food prep. We had three items on the menu, Tom Ka Gai (soup), Tamarind Prawns and Chicken Laab. I had never heard of Laab not made from pork before. P had us slicing onions, squeezing limes and shredding roast chicken while she showed us the already-prepared prawns and oyster mushrooms. She is big on shortcuts, and shared her favorite brands of tamarind paste, fish sauce and pad thai mix. She also had prepared galangal and lemon grass for the soup, and while we were shredding and slicing she deep fried the canned pineapple chunks in corn oil for a couple of minutes, just enough to soften their bite.
The prawns were deep fried in corn oil too, with the pineapple added and tamarind paste. Thinly sliced red bell pepper was added, and red chili peppers. This was drained and put on a serving platter with beautifully done green onion trees and butterflies carved from carrots.
After we devoured most of the prawns, she put the soup pot on, water & fish sauce first, then raw chicken breast which she had prepared in advance, galangal, lemon grass, lime juice, oyster mushrooms, cilantro, sliced green onions and finally the coconut milk. She said adding the coconut milk too soon makes it oily.
While that was simmering, we mixed the shredded roast chicken with red onion, mint, cilantro, and a few things I was not paying attention too. P brought out a tray of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, sliced bell peppers and carrots, which were eaten with the chicken laab.
Lots of great conversation, beside Janice, P and W were S, an Asian-American software engineer who grew up partly in Korea, L who is a public health nurse and D, a software engineer from southern India.
After the class, Janice took us to Sweet Orchid, just off Decoto Road, which is owned by a friend of hers. It is a small bakery/gelato shop which also has a variety of self-serve soft ice cream in tropical fruit flavors.
Home, changed the litterboxes, petted the cats.
Plans for tomorrow:
Process the photos from the cooking class
point P and W to my Drink Tank article on the Authenmathai