I’ve always had an addiction to Pad Thai. It started with my first taste of Thai food, at Sawadty Thai Cuisine on Bainbridge Island and has really only grown since. Which makes being able to eat it on a daily basis a wonderful, wonderful thing (though more than once a day is a little to much for me). Now, at home, we’ve tried all sorts of “pad thai” recipes trying to recreate the deliciousness that comes so easily to asian cooks. Pretty much any recipe we could find, that doesn’t require days of preparation, we’ve tried. All to no avail. We’ve been told the “secret ingredients” range from extra sugar and peanuts to ketchup (more on that later). But alas, nothing ever tastes quite like what you get at a Thai restaurant.
So determined to get to the bottom of this once and for all, we took a cooking class in it’s homeland. Specifically, in the heartland of Thai cooking, Chiang Mai. I started off with my favorite Pad Thai. It’s really very simple, just some oil to start the wok, water to keep things from burning, your meat, vegetables and garlic in, then some fish sauce for salty, some sugar for sweet, and some oyster sauce to give it some body. Add your peanuts and sprouts, and presto!, really good pad thai. Of course, the problem is in the whole finding the right ingredients. Fish sauce is relatively common in the US, but oyster sauce may be a little tricker. Unfortunately for all of you, I gobbled it down to fast for Theresa to get a picture. Theresa started with spring rolls and had it down in no time. Delicious stuff, and definitely one for the recipe book.
Really, I could’ve left then and been happy now that I can make my own pad thai, but we went on to to cook about ten other dishes between the two of us. I worked on hot and spicy soup, cashew chicken, spicy red curry, an asian chicken salad and mango sticky rice. Theresa specialized in hot and creamy soup, sweet and sour chicken (hint: secret ingredient – ketchup!), green papaya salad and mango sticky rice. Besides being ridiculously full as we also ate all of our dishes, we left armed with a whole slew of new meals to make. And I’m sure they won’t be as easy as our teachers made them seem, and finding the right ingredients won’t be particularly simple (shrimp paste, which smells disgusting by the way, and green papaya can be a little more difficult to discover, or even identify) but the food’s just worth it.
As a final test to our readers, in the middle of our day, we learned to carve a leaf and a flower. Can you guess who’s handiwork this is?