When we started cooking, we actually started with dessert. The famous Thai dessert, Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango requires advance preparation. The cook had prepped the work that would typically start the night before by soaking the sticky rice. From there she steamed it in the most perfect little napkin packages. From there our work began. We took the steamed rice and mixed it with the coconut marinade including a torn pandanus leaf for aroma. When you add leaves to Thai foods, tear them and add them immediately. This is important. The sticky rice then needed some time to marinade while we proceeded with the rest of the cooking. We stirred the sticky rice once throughout the process and later mixed the sweet topping together.
Our final recipe of the cooking class was actually a two-step process. First, we had to create the curry paste we would use to make the Red Curry with Pork and Bamboo. So we pre-chopped some of the vegetables and roots – shallots, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, and coriander root. Then we returned to our smaller mortar and pestle set and started adding chilis, whole spices and powders with the now-chopped garlic, shallot, coriander root, kaffir lime leaf, galangal and lemongrass. And then we pulverized our little hearts out. I am happy to report that when the assistant came around to investigate progress, she added her strength to the paste-making for every other woman at the table besides mine. My paste was pasty enough to meet her high standards. I was weirdly proud of this because no matter how old I am, I want to get an A.
The cook advised that if you are not able to make your own curry paste, you can use store-bought without too much concern. Just make sure you get one without additives.
From there, it was time to put the curry paste to use. Thai cooking doesn’t really use oil except for frying as in the Chicken in Pandanus Leaves. Instead, coconut cream or milk is used, and as the heat in the wok raises the temperature of the coconut, coconut oil is released. So we followed this approach, added the curry paste and kaffir lime leaves (torn just before) and the pork. When this mixture looked right and the pork was mostly solid, we added the bamboo shoots, more coconut milk plus fish sauce and palm sugar. When this came to a boil, we added more chilis and basil and then plated the dish. The wok was extremely hot, so the meal came together very quickly. My pictures are mostly of the cook demonstrating the techniques since I did not have time to take photos while stir-frying myself lest I burn myself or worse, my food.
Title quote: “Red Curry with Pork and Bamboo” and “Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango”