09.07.2013 - 09.07.2013 33 °C
Today was the day we were most excited about...... Our cooking course day.
It started out bright and early at 8.45am at Tamarind restaurant where we were given a welcome drink and waited for all the participants to arrive. The course costs 275,000 Kip, around £25 and has been given awesome reviews so we decided to buy it each other as a present. At 9am we set off. They took us in a tuk-tuk to a local market where our chef showed us around and explained about Southeast Asian herbs, cuts of meat, wicker steaming utensils and fish.
We got to try all different bits and pieces from the market from sweet peanut brittle, bamboo crisps and dried mushrooms. It was great, we got some free time to browse or buy and our chef bought a few herbs and chillies for the course. At this point Liam started to feel sick and had to wait in the car park.
After the market we got back in the tuk-tuk And went to the cooking course venue. It is outside the city, in the countryside down dirt road for about twenty minutes. When we arrived the tuk-tuk pulled into a gate with a wooden building and a bridge leading to an outdoor pavilion. It was beautiful. The course is done in an outdoor wooden area over looking a stunning lake filled with water lilies.
It was so gorgeous, there were work stations on a raised area and then seating over looking the water. It is really beautiful and the whole place is planted with big palms and banana plants. We got on our aprons and found a work station and then started.
The chef was funny and really good at explaining and keeping the class moving. First he showed us how to make sticky rice. It had already been pre-soaked but we washed it and then put it in a special bamboo steamer over a charcoal fire.
Then he showed us how to make two spicy dips for the rice, a tomato one and an aubergine one. We roasted our chillies, tomatoes, onion, garlic and aubergine over charcoal and then we pounded them in a pestle and motor with lime and herbs and fish sauce to make a yummy dip.
Next on the agenda was herby fish steamed in a banana leaf. We made a marinade using lots of different herbs and spices. Basil, fennel, dandelion, shallots, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, chilli, spring onions and fish sauce which we bashed in out pestle and motor again. We then marinated pieces of filleted fish and made a banana leaf present which we tied up with bamboo string.
It was really fun to make and by this point everyone was getting hungry to eat what we were making. The little parcels then went into the steamer to cook.
Chicken stuffed lemongrass was next and this one was more tricky. First we made a marinade using lots of garlic, shallots and lots of coriander, some kaffir lime leaves and and salt and mixed this in with minced chicken. We then had to slice the centre of a peice of lemongrass long ways to make a sort of basket to put the chicken inside. In the end they looked like eadible maracas.
They were then dipped in beated egg and fried until golden and cooked through. They smelled gorgeous when they were cooking and we couldn't wait to eat them.
Lastly for lunch we made Koy, a meat and herb salad. This is made from minced buffalo meat that is cooked medium rare and mixed with lots of different herbs. Garlic, coriander, lemongrass, mint, lime, chillies, green beans, banana flower, galangal, bean sprouts, spring onions and fish sauce. It is served with lettuce, watercress and other green salad leaves and you make small parcels full of meat when you eat it.
By this point is was 2.30 and we were all dying to try what we had made so we sat down to a feast. We ate everything we had made ourselves with the sticky rice. Sticky rice is meant to be eaten with your hands. You pick off bite size pieces and dip them into your dishes. Everything was really really yummy and everyone was full after they had finished. We ate overlooking the beautiful water lilies and lake, the setting is so lovely.
After we had eaten it was time to make dessert. We made a coconut rice pudding from sticky rice in a pan over the charcoal fire and ate it with fresh tropical fruits. It was sweet and scrummy. The course finished at about 3pm and the tuk-tuk took us back to the restaurant. At the end you get a recipe book of everything you have made and more.
Whilst Chelsea enjoyed it Liam became sick mid morning while we were there and couldn't participate. The Laos staff looked after him and took him to a staff room so he could lay down. He didn't cook anything or eat anything and all the staff and the cooking participants were genuinely worried about him and trying to offer Chelsea drugs to pass on to him. We're not sure what's wrong, we thing he ate something yesterday which doesn't agree with him but Chelsea ate the same so maybe he has picked up a bug. Anyway as he didn't participate Chelsea asked the manager if we could have a partial refund or let Liam go another day and they refunded us two thirds of the cost which was kind. We will have to do another course as we are both disappointed we couldn't do it together and Liam really wants to do one.
The rest of the day was spent in the room. Liam has had a fever and so had kept having cold showers and Chelsea has just been keeping him company. Chelsea went out for a sandwich and some chocolate milk about 8pm and then we just had an early night. Hopefully Liam will feel better tomorrow.