Friday, September 26, 2008

Thai Cuisine Cooking Workshop

Chef Eric and his mom making the squid cakes
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'm amazed - the CC has a better kitchen than I do!
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!

Thai grilled beef salad
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
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.

The brand of Thai sweet chili sauce to look for - Mae Pranom
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.

The trick to good fried rice is lots of oil, says the chef
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.

Pineapple fried rice
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).


  1. Hmm... next time can post the fish sauce brand if u happen to see it again? I took up a cookery lesson in Chiangmai and the instructor said to cook thai food, fish sauce is a "must-have".

  2. I. Love. That. Kitchen! :D

  3. no pad craving for pad thai when one mentions the word thai hehee..

  4. erm he is Chef Yong or Chef Eric Low? *confused*

  5. I would like to know the fish sauce brand too! :P

    The salad looks very appetizing.

  6. t__t

    Chef Yong's the pen-name.
    His real name is Chef Eric Low ;-)

  7. heh heh... the auntie thought you were a PRC! hahaha... it was a lot of fun. Will be attempting the beef salad at a BBQ next weekend.

  8. Wow, thanks for taking us on this class with you. But Ulu Pandan.. kind of far. :P Looks like a fun interactive class, not just sit and watch.

  9. Camemberu & Keropokman, next time got class call me leh.

  10. count me in!

    aiyo camemberu, once u master thai cooking, organise one thai dinner or smth leh and let us all have a taste of it! hehehe

  11. count me in!

    aiyo camemberu, once u master thai cooking, organise one thai dinner or smth leh and let us all have a taste of it! hehehe

  12. Wow, wished I was there to join in the fun too. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Cool! have to wait until i more free then can start joining the cooking and baking lessons. can't wait to get started and learn more stuff. haha

  14. helo! luv the site! naturally accuring glutamates as opposed to mono sodium glut eh? all the goodness of protein building blocks! good to know! also, thanks for the tip on the vietnamese type being the better sauce :D

  15. Look how serious the chef is when frying the rice! :P

  16. Miso, Didally: sure, I'll look out for the fish sauce and post a photo when I buy some. It's quite a common brand, I think.

    Kenny: yeah lor. Got one oven specially for halal cooking some more!

    Joe: ah, me love pad thai too! yet to try making that...hmm.

    T_T: Keropokman is right. "Chef Yong" is just Chef Eric Low's pen name. Thanks, K-man.

    Southernoise: haha, yeah, was fun! Kepoh auntie. We didn't even speak a word of Chinese. I dunno how she got the idea we're from PRC. Hey, how's your BBQ? The grilled beef salad is perfect for BBQs! Refreshing and healthy!

    SIG: actually the Chef also teaches at Marine Parade CC, but I am the only one staying in the East, so had to join the other four in the West. So good news if you'd like to try Chef Yong's courses. But umm, it IS a sit-and-watch class. Like a cooking show, as K-man's sister put it. Stil, at least we get to eat at the end of it.

    Jencooks: we don't have your number? :P

    Jaime-LN: lol one can never master Thai cooking, methinks! But sure, if you don't mind rookie cooking!

    HB: You're welcome!

    LIC: hope to see your baking and cooking soon!

    C&C: gotta love glutamates!

    Tigerfish: oh yes, he made sure each grain of rice was glistening!

  17. The fish sauce mentioned above should be Viet Huong 3 Crabs brand. Here is the photo of the fish sauce
    Is that the one camemberu?

  18. Hi Arvelle,

    The one the chef recommended is the Tiparos brand...sorry I still haven't managed to get a bottle to photograph but here's what it looks like.


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