Update (13FEB23): Issaya Cooking Studio is no longer in operation.
I had another amazing day learning to cook Thai food at the Issaya Cooking Studio. (Check out my first day!) This time I was the only student so I had a private lesson with Nat (the instructor). There are definite benefits to living in Thailand because during the non-tourist season you can find yourself receiving one-on-one instruction as opposed to when it’s tourist season and you participate in a full class.
Today I learned how to make yam sam o (pomelo salad), kradak mu ob (red curry-glazed baby back ribs), tom sab (a soup made with the pork stock from the ribs), chicken green curry, and khoa ob mo din (a clay-pot baked multigrain rice and beans).
We tossed some baby back ribs into a stew pot to boil and soften for a couple of hours and then started our first dish: pomelo salad. If you are not familiar with pomelo is kind of like a large grapefruit but the fruit itself is much sweeter. I am not a fan of grapefruit–but I am a friend to pomelo. It was super easy to make but as you can see we made an interesting presentation of it! Basically you take an edible betel leaf and put it at the bottom of the pot, then pile the pomelo salad in the pot, then top the pot with crushed peanuts and put a couple of betel leaves and stems to make a “plant”. Super cute. I want to try this when we have folks over at the house. Leave a flower pot as a center piece on the table and then spring it on people that it’s the appetizer!
After the salad we made the green curry. This is one of my favorite dishes and I’ve tried to make it at home using those instant seasoning packages with pretty unimpressive results. Today I made it with the homemade green curry paste and it rocked my world. I will never use another cheap instant seasoning package again. One of the things that we used in the making of the curry was slices of “coconut heart”. Nat said that it was the tops of coconut trees and it had a texture like bamboo shoots and a taste of coconut meat. I’ve never heard of it before. I will have to keep a lookout on it when I go to the Khlong Toei market,
After the chicken green curry was made we checked on the ribs. They were softening nicely and the broth had reduced a bit and looked pretty rich. I asked Nat if the broth could be used as a soup base. He got super excited and starting naming off the many kinds of soup that could be made with it and how easy it was to make a soup with it. “I will show you!” he said, and he ladled out 3 scoops of soup broth. He added a bit of the softened rib meat, a couple of shallots, some herbs, spices, and toasted rice powder. Voila! Tom Sab soup (which was like having laab but in a soup form). You can bet this will be in my kitchen recipe repertoire as I am always looking for ways not to waste food.
Next it was time to make the khoa ob mo din (a clay-pot baked multigrain rice and beans). This was made easy as all of the grains and beans were already cooked and portioned off. Nat made the recommendation that it’s best to take an afternoon to cook all the beans and grains and then combine them, portion them, and then freeze them. The freeze well and can be thawed out and used when needed. I’ve never seen a dish like this in Thailand before. It reminded me of African fare but with purple rice. We finished off the dish with a teaspoon of hazelnut oil (this was not on the provided recipe brochure so shhhhh!) It was delicious!
Finally we came to the ribs! Kradak mu ob (red curry-glazed baby back ribs) is exactly what it sounds like, tender baby back ribs that are coated with a red curry based sauce and baked in the oven then finished off with a butane torch to caramelize that delicious sauce. I think the below picture pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
Anna wasn’t feeling well so I got everything as take-away and was able to make a nice lunch for us! She gifted the two courses to me so it seems right she share in the results! I turned the take-away into a pretty good spread–no flower pot presentation, though!
I learned a lot during this course and plan to start cooking more Thai food at home. Why not? The ingredients are cheap and readily available!
If you are in Bangkok, or are visiting Bangkok and interested in a cooking class I highly recommend the Issaya Cooking Studio at Central Embassy. You will learn how to cook high quality Thai dishes, presentation techniques, and kitchen hacks that you will find useful when cooking other dishes.
If you have any questions about the cooking school or the recipes to make these dishes, then please feel free to contact me.