Any food journey worth its salt has to go to Asia, and Jason went to Thailand's largest tourist island, Phuket.
Mom Tri's Boathouse Cooking Classes are conducted on Saturdays and Sundays under the watchful eye of Chef Tummanoon Punchun. He has been sharing his secrets to great Thai cooking with professional chefs and food enthusiasts around the world for over a decade.
The award-winning Boathouse Restaurant is right on Kata Beach with the ocean as a backdrop. Not a bad classroom.
With so many unfamiliar herbs and spices used in Thai cuisine, Jason was happy to go to the Downtown Market on Ranong Road. It's largest fresh food market in Phuket and has been there since the city's early history when pirates and traders visited to pick up supplies and sell their wares. These days it's buzzing with housewives and cooks buying fruit and vegetables. It's open 24 hours.
Back in the classroom Chef Tummanoon showed the class how to get the best from their ingredients. Pounding, chopping, slicing, dicing. It's all very important.
Kaffir lime leaf, galangal and lemon grass are known as the Thai bouquet and are the basis for most Thai curries and soups.
The class involved making two entrees and a main dish. They started with deep fried prawn rolls in rice paper. Chef Tummanoon says if you can't find fresh rice paper, it's all right to use wonton wrappers. He also said to fry the rolls in a light vegetable oil. Sesame and olive oils are too strong and become the prominent flavour.
Next it was the classic Thai entree, fish cakes. Once the ingredients were mixed together and ready to place on pandanus leaves, Jason wished he knew more about origami, the art of Japanese paper folding.
The leaves hold the mixture in place and their bright green is pleasing to the eye. After much fumbling, Jason got it right. Chef says if you can't find pandanus leaves, banana leaves will do the job just as well.
Jason's favourite Thai dish is beef salad. It's so tasty, and the beauty of it is you can prepare it quickly with leftover beef or chicken. Add spring onions, chilli, the basic Thai sauce made up of fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar and you have the most delicious meal in no time at all.
Everyone in the class agreed preparing and cooking Thai food is fairly simple and that they could prepare the dishes at home. That's what you want from a cooking class!
You can stay at Mom Tri's Boathouse. There's a great variety of rooms. Décor is contemporary Thai and equipped with all you could possibly need. Beach chairs with umbrellas are attended by staff who will bring drinks, snacks and towels.
Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand.
Mom Tri's Boathouse cooking classes cost $88 for one day and $126 for two days. Lunch, apron, recipes and certificate are included. They run on Saturdays and Sundays.
V Australia has one-way flights to Phuket from:
- Melbourne $414
- Brisbane $423
- Sydney $429
- Adelaide $579
- Perth $729
The fares are available for a limited time only so log on to www.vaustralia.com.au for further details.
Prices correct at August 5, 2010.
For further information
Mom Tri's Boathouse Cooking Class
Ph: 0011 66 76 330 015
Fax: 0011 66 76 330 561
Visas: Australians may stay in Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa.
Electricity: 220V with European plug of two circular metal pins or Japanese plug with two parallel flat blades.
Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time +7 hours.
Currency: The baht.
Telephone code: +66.
It is recommended travellers to Thailand see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information visit www.smartraveller.gov.au