Monday, January 12, 2015

Thai Cooking Class in Valence with Aoy

During Christmas, I spent a week in Valence in the South of France and while I was there, I decided to take a cooking lesson in Thai food from Aoy. Aoy runs Thai cooking lessons in her home and I couldn’t resist a chance to learn some tips on how to cook some authentic Thai food.



Aoy knows whole gamut of Thai dishes and I decided to first learn how to cook the ubiquitous Thai Green Curry. Sure I’ve attempted a green curry before – buy some pre-made green curry sauce and stir-fry some vegetables but Aoy’s slow cooked Green Curry with Aubergines and Beef was the real deal.
We started by cutting some thin slices of beef. You can use any kind of lean steak like a rump steak. Then we chopped the Thai Aubergines into quarters and left them in a bowl of water so that they don’t discolour. The aubergines that I’m used to are the big fat purple ones but Aoy used Thai Aubergines – which are much smaller and green in colour.



Then we heated a little coconut milk and mixed in the green curry paste (a very useful short-cut and available in any Asian grocery store). Once the milk started bubbling, we added the beef slices and half a can of coconut milk and let it slow cook. About 15 minutes later, we added the aubergine and some crushed Chinese ginger (a.k.a Fingerroot). Very similar to Galangal, the crushed fingerroot gave the curry that lovely familiar aromatic smell. Another tip from Aoy is to crush some Thai Basil and add it the curry – this gives it more of a green colour.

We then topped it with remaining Coconut milk from the can, some sliced Thai Chillies, some more fresh Thai Basil, a little bit of fish sauce and some sugar to balance the heat of the chillies and viola – it was done. After 30 minutes of cooking, we had the most sumptuous of curries – an aromatic Green curry with soft succulent beef and juicy aubergines in a creamy comforting coconut milk full of flavour and gentle heat.



I also learned how to make Fresh Thai spring rolls which are very similar to Vietnamese Summer rolls. Light, crunchy and bursting with fresh ingredients – a much healthier option to the typical fried spring rolls.

First we prepared all the ingredients that went into the spring roll. We soaked rice vermicelli glass noodles in cold water for 20 minutes. These were then boiled, drained and flavoured with garlic infused oil. Carrots, cucumbers and Chinese chives were cut into finger sized pieces. The carrots were boiled to make them softer. We boiled some pork and then sliced into smaller pieces. I also learned how to remove the shell from the prawn and de-vein them. The prawns were quickly cooked in boiling water as well.


As you can see, there was a lot of boiling and hot water and practically no frying or oil at all – which makes eating these lovely spring rolls an utterly guilt free experience. The next step was to put all the ingredients on the rice paper (which you soak in warm water for a few minutes to soften) and then begin a delicate process of wrapping and rolling all the ingredients – of which I totally forgot to take any pictures of! I loved learning how to beautifully wrap all ingredients together in the rice paper and I was so proud of the finished product.

If you’re in Valence and want a break from feasting on French food and interested in taking some lessons in Thai cooking, send me an email at ginfizzgirl@gmail.com and I’ll put you in touch with Aoy. It’s well worth it!

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