Sometimes it's nice to go for a cooking class, for the fun of it, with some friends. At the very least, you get to eat something at the end of it. A group of us (including Southernoise, Momo, Keropokman and his sister), went last Saturday for Chef Yong's Thai Cuisine Workshop held at the Ulu Pandan Community Centre (CC).
Chef Yong is actually Chef Eric Low who has trained with the CIA (and that's the Culinary Institute of America, not the intelligence agency). Here he is with his mom, who is probably the real "sifu" who inspired him to pursue his cooking career.
I was quite stunned - the CC has a better-equipped kitchen than I do! Double ovens, two hobs, one tze-char style large gas ring, a working hood, dishwasher, and fridge. At one corner was a KITCHEN-AID MIXER!!! My dream machine. Too bad it's blocked from view here.
I thought we were rather discreet with our point-and-shoot digital cameras but one auntie persistently asked us if we were overseas visitors. Thank goodness I didn't use my DSLR!
The first item we saw demonstrated was the Thai grilled beef salad. Very easy to make, and very delicious. The Thais normally eat this with steamed glutinous rice. I'd be quite happy too, to have this as a one-dish meal.
Squid cakes with pineapple salsa next. We loved the salsa but the fried squid quenelles were rather salty. I might skip the Maggi seasoning and tone down the fish sauce if I make this myself.
This is the brand of Thai sweet chili sauce the chef recommended for making the salsa. It's not thickened by starch, unlike other brands. I forgot to take a photo of the recommended fish sauce. The best fish sauce, according to the chef, is made in Vietnam, not Thailand. Not just any type of fish but a certain type of anchovies yields the best fermented harvest of naturally occurring glutamates.
Chef Yong/Low says you need a lot of oil to make good fried rice. This is to ensure that each grain is glistening and well-coated. He added curry powder for that yellow colour, instead of just turmeric.
The pineapple fried rice with pork floss, topped with cashew nuts and fried Thai basil leaves. We really felt the effects of the oil. This tiny bowl was deceptively satiating. We also felt a certain surfeit of fish sauce, which was used generously in all three dishes. Normally I love fish sauce but now I know it's best only in moderation. We were all quite thirsty afterwards.
The three-hour session (S$32 for members; S$37 for non-members) is not a hands-on workshop but it was quite informative. The chef even gave us tips on where best to get Thai ingredients (Tekka market or Chow Brothers near Muthu's Curry).
Chef Eric Low has a culinary series on Christmas favourites coming up (these get booked really quickly). He also runs two blogs that some of you may have already seen - Cook with Passion (his workshops) and Coolchef (musings and restaurant reviews). More on the various courses at the People's Association (PA) website here. Best viewed with Internet Explorer (yeah, pages don't show up on Firefox too well).