Prawn brains anyone?
Well I did say I’d embrace the food and culture as much as I could whilst travelling and what better way to do so than to eat like the locals eat? Prawn brains? Yeah i’ll give it a go. Fifteen chilli’s in your curry? Erm, no. As Ying herself said, Thai mother’s milk is spicy!
I booked Ying’s Cooking Class as a present for Pete, who, unlike me, enjoys cooking. Ying’s class is intimate (maximum 4 people cooking) and really personable too, it is held in her stunning, open-space house. Before you head there, you first visit the local market and buy the ingredients for the day. As it is only a small group, you decide there and then what you wish to cook. Four dishes per couple! Ying reels off a huge menu of ideas and you can take from that what you wish. We opted for:
- Prawn soup
- Deep fried fish
- Red curry – chicken
- Chicken and cashew nuts
‘Beep beep beep’. The path through the market is small, and the porter’s trolley is big. ‘Beep beep beep’ is a polite way of saying ‘get out the way fool!’
I don’t think of myself as squeamish when it comes to food, but…
Ying guided us through the market describing all sorts of fish, meat and vegetables we had never seen before. This included 150 types of banana, and chicken blood which looked like liver. I don’t think of myself as squeamish when it comes to food, but when we bought pomfret fish for our dish, the seller prepared this for us. Her fingers squelched deep under the gill and…well, I had to turn away.
Ying’s house, an open, conservatory-like space minus the walls, is full of wooden ornaments, photographs, wooden work tops and coconut bowls. The sink, the coolest sink I have ever seen, is an open drain/trough that leads straight to the river behind her house.
We started with our chicken and cashew nut stir fry. Chicken is sliced finely for fast frying. Ying explained that Thai cooking is quick, less time cooking, more time eating. The other couple with us, Adam and Katrina, cooked prawn sweet and sour. Once all the chopping and prep was done, we headed to our individual gas stoves. Ying lay out all the ingredients (in separate little bowls) in order of how we cooked them. What felt like only 5-10mins of cooking and we were done. Sat together at the diner table we all tried each other’s dishes. Ying and her staff (her mother and father) cleared and cleaned the work area and prepped for our next dishes.
We ate food I’d never ate before, smelled smells I’d never smelt before…
We were eating from 12pm – 4pm and everything was delicious (maybe except the prawn brains which Pete was not so keen on). What shocked me the most was the deep-fried fish. Ignorantly I was expecting this to be in pieces and covered in batter (so English) but instead we chucked the whole fish in the frying pan. This was my favourite dish. So yummy! We ate food I’d never ate before, smelled smells I’d never smelt before, cooked like I’ve never cooked before (cough cough, Pete would say I haven’t ever cooked before). Adam and Katrina also cooked Yellow curry and Massaman curry. Both delightful and spicy!
Throughout the day we chatted and learnt about this fascinating woman and her businesses. Four years she has been doing this class for and keeps the lessons small, for that perfect one-to-one type of tuition. If you wish to book with Ying, and I’d highly recommend you do (as does TripAdvisor) then get in there quick. As I publish this post, Ying is fully booked for the next three weeks. I know exactly why, as every bit of food was delicious (well, you don’t have to eat the prawn brains).
If you do wish for any of the recipes please do leave a comment and your email address and we can send that over to you.