SOMPONG THAI COOKING SCHOOL

Thai cooking class was one of the last things we did in Thailand, just a day before returning from Bangkok to Oslo.

The school was established in 2008 by auntie Sompong and her niece teacher Koy. It happened after decades of working in a restaurant industry and the family in the beginning used a small area in front of the house as a kitchen. The business grew steadily, and quickly the family decide to provide more space for their guests.

We all got small baskets with a bottle of water and a colourful fan as we headed to the local market.

The cooking class started early in the morning, when a large group of participants gathered on the streets, only to be divided in two smaller groups of fifteen people. Our group was dozen of Asians and two of us Europeans. Debeli being the tallest one.

Our goal was not buying the ingredients for cooking as the cooking school provides those, we were going there for a better insight on the fruits and vegetables used in Thai cuisine. Finally, we discovered what those small green veggies were in our curries.

Doggy’s not for sale

We watched the process of extracting the coconut milk from young coconuts and making the coconut flour.

Young coconuts, around few months old, are green and rich in the juicy water. They are typically harvested from the tree while still green, but as they grow older, their juice turns into flesh that gets turned into a coconut milk afterwards. The flesh is grated and  simmered in water to extract all the coconut goodness. The water then separates into a creamy, thick layer and a thin, more watery layer. The thick layer is packaged as coconut cream, and the thinner liquid is labelled as coconut milk.

Thai cuisine is rich in various types of herbs, vegetables and seasonings that we were introduced before starting our day in the kitchen.

Most common veggies used in Thai dishes are shallots, onions, garlic, broccoli, bamboo shoots, ginger, turmeric, galangal, bell peppers, eggplants, bean sprouts, carrots, cabbage or kale and morning glory.

Eggplants
Chili, the smaller the deadlier

When it comes to herbs, the star of all herbs is kaffir lime leaves and then follows coriander, pandanus leaves, lemongrass, holy and sweet basil.

Ginger family
Galangal

Very similar to ginger is galangal, both type of underground creeping stem of a plant that sends out shooters to create new plants, in the ginger family (turmeric and cardamom are also in this family). Their biggest difference is their taste: galangal has a sharp citrus, almost piney flavor, while ginger is fresh, pungently spicy, and barely sweet

Finger root ginger

Finger root ginger is often used in Thai cooking, while in the west it’s usually found pickled or frozen. It`s also used to help make fermented soya bean cake, also called Tempeh, a traditional Indonesian food if you didn’t know

Turmeric or curcuma

Turmeric or curcuma is one of the key ingredients in many Asian dishes, imparting a mustard-like, earthy aroma and pungent, slightly bitter flavour to foods 

Kaffir lime

Kaffir lime is a citrus fruit native to tropical Southeast Asia and southern China. Both its fruit and leaves are used in Southeast Asian cuisine and its essential oil is used in perfumery thanks to its rind and crushed leaves that emit an intense citrus fragrance

Kaffir lime leaves

Kaffir lime leaves are probably one of the most aromatic of all herbs and a common addition to many Thai and Southeast Asian soups, curries, and stir-fries. The thick leaves are dark green and shiny on one side, and pale-coloured and porous on the other. They can be are sold fresh, frozen, or dried and used basically as a version of bay leaves

Coriander

Coriander or cilantro as it’s leaves are called in the Americas is what parsley is to Europeans and basically it is sometimes called the ‘’Chinese parsley’’. Its citrus flavor, refreshing taste and aroma are the reason why people love it or hate it.

Thai coriander next to the “normal” one
Lemongrass
Pandan leaves

Pandan leaves have multiple uses – dependent in part on type & location. Some are a source of food while others provide raw material for clothing, basket weaving and shelter. When used in cuisine they have similar use and flavor as vanilla spice. Fresh leaves are typically torn into strips, tied in a knot to facilitate removal, placed in the cooking liquid, then removed at the end of cooking. Dried leaves and bottled extract may be bought in some places.

Palm sugar

Roasted rice powder is a common kitchen ingredient in Northern Thai cuisines, made by slowly toasting raw sticky rice to a deep golden brown, then grinding it into a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. It gives nutty flavour to dishes and is also used as a thickening agent in soups and dipping sauces

Dried and fresh tamarind used for tamarind paste in flavouring for chutneys and curries
Dried and grounded red hot chili peppers
Dried shrimps used for decoration and as a crunchy part of a dish
Dried shallots

Our cooking class lasted around 3 hours and during that time we have made four dishes in total.

The preparation of all of the dishes was carefully explained and followed by the main cook/guide.

He would show us everything, from step one, like chopping the ingredients to cooking.

Together we prepared red curry paste for the chicken curry, northern spicy chicken salad, stirred fried prawns with tamarind sauce and mango sticky rice whose recipe I’m going to share with you. The rest are easy to find on-line.

Ingredients for curry paste

 

Blending everything in
Red curry paste
Shrimps, curry, rice

Being a staple food of Thai people, no wonder rice has found it’s way even to the dessert dishes.

Mango sticky rice is one of the most famous sweet Thai dishes and it was one of my favourite desserts during our stay in Bangkok.

I even tried to reduplicate the dish back in Norway. Turned out quite well despite the fact that I forgot to make coconut dressing 🙂

Two of the most important things you have to have in mind when making mango sticky rice are the type of rice you use and the rice cooker.

You have to use sticky or glutinous rice that has opaque grains, very low amylose content, and is especially sticky when cooked. It is called glutinous in the sense of being glue-like or sticky, and not in the sense of containing gluten (which it does not).

How to cook sticky rice:

#clean the sticky rice until water is clean and not cloudy

#soak the sticky rice in water for three hours

#steam the sticky rice until is cooked

The best way to steam the rice is to use the bamboo steamer where the drained rice is steamed for 30 minutes with some pandan leaves for the flavour. Instead of the bamboo steamer, I used the usual big colander, same, as I would use the bamboo steamer.

You should steam one side of rice for 15 minutes and then flip it over like a pancake for another 15 minutes. Very easy 🙂

If you’re using the rice cooker, add ¾ of cups of water for every cup of sticky rice and if you’re using the steamer (like on the photo on the left) place the cheesecloth onto the steamer and steam until done or around 20-30 minutes.

Ingredients for the mango sticky rice:

1 cup raw sticky rice or 1 ½ cooked sticky rice

1 cup coconut cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1-3 ripe mango peeled

add 2 pandan leaves for the flavour or use vanilla flavour

Heat the coconut cream, sugar, salt, pandan leaf in a pot on a medium heat and boil until mixed and boiling. Remove from heat.

Pour hot coconut mixture with hot sticky rice and mix it together. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes

For the first 10 minutes stir sticky rice mixture together and after 10 minutes more it’s ready to serve

In the meantime, you should make the coconut cream topping using

1 cup coconut cream

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp rice flour or corn flour

Mix coconut cream with rice flour and salt in a wok

When you mix it well together, turn on the stove over medium heat and stir until it thickens.

Serve it with mango sticky rice

Bon apetit!


SOMPONG ŠKOLA TAJSKE KUHINJE

Tečaj tajske kuhinje bio je jedna od posljednjih stvari koje smo napravili u Tajlandu, samo dan prije povratka nazad u Oslo.

Školu su utemeljile teta Sompong i njena nećakinja Koy 2008. godine. Škola je bila prirodni nastavak godina i godina rada i usavršavanja u ugostiteljstvu. Isprva je obitelj koristila mali prostor ispred kuće kao kuhinju za tečajeve. Obujam posla se brzo povećavao i ubrzo je obitelj odlučila otvoriti školu u većem i bolje opremljenom prostoru.

Tečaj je počeo rano ujutro, kad se velika grupa ljudi skupila na pločniku blizu škole. Ubrzo su nas vodiči podijelili u dvije manje grupe, od kojih je svaka brojila petnaestak ljudi. Naša grupa su bili hrpa Azijata i nas dvoje, Europljana. Debeli najviši 🙂

Svi smo dobili male pletene košare s bočicom vode i lepezom prije no što smo krenuli na lokalnu tržnicu.

Zadatak nam nije bio kupnja namirnica za kuhanje jer škola se pobrine za to, nego smo trebali dobiti bolji uvid u voće i povrće koje se koristi u tajskoj kuhinji. Konačno smo saznali kakve su to male zelene kuglice u curriju što smo ih jeli cijelo vrijeme.

Na tržnici smo vidjeli proces izvlačenja “mlijeka” iz mladih kokosa i pravljenje kokosovog brašna.

Mladi su kokosi, starosti oko par mjeseci, zeleni i bogati tekućinom. Beru se dok su još zeleni, ali kako stare, sok se pretvara u meso iz kojeg se pravi kokosovo mlijeko kasnije.

Kokosovo meso se riba (skida) i namače u vodi odakle se izvlače sve divote kokosa. Voda se razdvaja na kremastu, gustu tekućinu i tanju, vodenastiju. Gusta tekućina pakira se kao kokosovo vrhnje, a vodenastija tekućina kao mlijeko.

Tajska kuhinja bogata je raznoraznim biljem, povrćem i začinima koje smo pobliže upoznali prije nego smo započeli s kuhanjem.

Najuobičajenije povrće koje se koristi u Tajskoj kuhinji su luk, češnjak, brokula, stabljike bambusa, đumbir, kurkuma, galangal, paprika, patlidžan, klice graha, mrkva, kelj, kupus i vodeni špinat.

Što se tiče bilja, zvijezda su definitivno lišće kaffir limete, nakon čega slijedi korijandar, lišće pandana, limunska trava, sveti i slatki bosiljak.

Čili papričice, što manje to smrtonosnije
Galangal, vrlo sličan đumbiru i iz iste porodice biljaka kao kurkuma i kardamon

Najveća razlika je u okusu, dok je galangal svježiji i limunastiji, đumbir je dosta ljut i punijeg okusa, jako rijetko sladak

Prstenasti đumbir često se koristi u Tajskoj kuhinji, dok se na Zapadu može naći ukiseljeni ili zamrznuti. Koristi se i pri spravljanju kolača od fermentirane soje ili tempeha
Kurkuma je jedan od ključnih začina u azijskoj kuhinji sa svojom zemljanom i gorkom notom sličnom senfu
Kaffir limeta citrusno je voće iz tropske južnoistočne Azije i južne Kine. Voće i lišće se koriste u južnoistočnoj kuhinji dok se esencijalna ulja koriste u parfemskoj industriji, zahvaljujući kori i lišću koje je bogato jakim citrusnim notama
Lišće kaffir limete je vjerojatno jedno od najaromatičnijih biljaka i čest dodatak u mnogim Thai i južnaazijskim juhama, pastama i currijima. Debelo lišće je tamno zelene boje i sjajno na jednoj strani i svjetlije boje te porozno na drugoj. Prodaju se svježi, smrznuti, sušeni i koriste se kao što se koristi lovorov list
Korijandar ili silantro kako se naziva u Amerikama sličan je našem peršinu te se slično i naziva; kineski peršin. Citrusni okus i osvježavajuća aroma razlog su zašto ga ljudi vole ili mrze
Tajski korijandar pored običnog
Limunska trava
Lišće pandana ima mnogobrojnu uporabu, ovisno o vrsti i lokaciji. Neki su izvor hrane dok drugi pružaju sirovi materijal za odjeću, pletenje košara i sklonište. Kad se koriste u kuhinji imaju sličan okus kao vanilija. Svježe lišće najčešće se trga u trakice, sveže u čvor i stavi u posudu gdje se kuha skupa s ostalim namirnicama. Suho lišće i ekstrakti u bočici zamjenska su opcija i mogu se kupiti na nekim mjestima s azijskom hranom
Šećer palmine trske

 

Rižin prah česti je sastojak prilikom kuhanja tajskih jela, a pravi se polaganim prženjem sirove ljepljive riže (dok ne poprimi zlatnu boju), te mljevenjem u mortaru ili električnom mlincu. Jela dobiju orašasti okus ako se začine s prahom, ali koristi se i kao zgušnjivač juha ili umaka.

Sušeni i svježi tamarind koristi se za tamarind pastu te za pojačavanje čatnija i currija
Sušene i mljevene crvene ljute papričice
Sušeni račići koriste se uglavnom za dekoraciju i kao hrskavi dodatak
Sušeni luk

Naš tečaj tajskog kuhanja trajao je oko tri sata za koje vrijeme smo napravili četiri jela.

Hladna pileća salata
Crveni curry s piletinom
Račići u tamarind umaku
Mango s ljepljivom rižom

Pripravu svih jela pažljivo je objasnio i budno nadgledao naš kuhar/vodič.

Sve smo pratili u stopu, od izbora najbitnijih namirnica, do sjeckanja, kuhanja te dekoracije i posluživanja.

Svi su sjeckali

Zajedno smo pripravili crvenu curry pastu za pileći curry, začinjenu salatu od piletine, pržene račiće u tamarind umaku te ljepljivu rižu s mangom čiji recept ću podijeliti s vama u tekstu. Ostalo lako možete pronaći na internetu.

Obzirom da je riža glavni sastojak tajske kuhinje, nije ni čudo što se može naći i u slanim, ali i slatkim jelima.

Ljepljiva riža s mangom jedna je od najpoznatijih slastica Tajlanda, a nije joj puno trebalo da postane moja najomiljenija. Čak sam je pokušala napraviti u Norveškoj s malom izmjenom jer sam zaboravila servirati kokos umak uz rižu, ali svejedno je ispalo jako fino i izdašno.

Dvije stvari koje morate imati na umu prilikom priprave ove slastice su vrsta riže i kuhalo za rižu.

Riža koja se koristi za desert ima neprozirna zrna i nizak sadržaj amiloze, pa se jako lijepi kad je kuhana. Zbog toga i naziv – ljepljiva riža.

Kako kuhati ljepljivu rižu:

#ispirati rižu dok voda nije potpuno bistra

#namočite rižu u vodi tri sata

#kuhajte rižu dok nije kuhana

Najbolji način za kuhanje riže je parni lonac od bambusa gdje se osušena riža kuha oko pola sata, petnaest na jednoj strani i petnaest na drugoj. Umjesto bambusove košare, ja sam koristila obično veliko cjedilo za juhu.

Ako koristite kuhalo za rižu dodajte ¾ šalice vode za svaku šalicu riže, ako koristite kuhalo na paru (na fotki lijevo) stavite gazu na dno i kuhajte oko 20-30 minuta dok riža nije kuhana.

Sastojci za ljepljivu rižu s mangom:

šalica sirove ljepljive riže ili 1 ½ šalice kuhane ljepljive riže

šalica kokosovog vrhnja

1/3 šećera

1 žličica soli

1-3 zrela oguljena manga

dodajte 2 lista pandana za okus ili dodajte vaniliju iz istog razloga

Zagrijte kokosovu kremu, šećer, sol i pandan list na srednje jakoj vatri te kuhajte dok ne zavrije. Maknite sa štednjaka

Prelijte vruću kokos kremu preko vruće riže i promiješajte. Neka stoji 15-20 minuta

Prvih deset minuta miješajte rižu, a nakon još deset minuta riža je spremna za posluživanje

U međuvremenu napravite kokos umak

šalica kokos kreme

¼ žličica soli

2 žličice rižinog ili kukuruznog brašna (gustin)

Miješajte kokosovu kremu s rižinim brašnom i solju u voku

Kad je sve dobro sjedinjeno, upalite štednjak i kuhajte na srednje jakoj vatri dok se ne zgusne

Poslužite s ljepljivom rižom i mangom

Dobar tek!

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