Monday, October 8, 2012

Thai Night

This was the start of my long weekend - on a Thursday night.

As mentioned in this blog before, every month or so, some of us try to get together for a food night. It started off with three of us, and now has grown to nine. The whole idea was to try out different ethnic foods but the catch is, each of us has to make a dish ourselves and mainly from scratch. It was an excuse to get together and have a little fun cooking in the kitchen. With nine in the kitchen, it sometimes gets a little chaotic.

We skipped right over the summer months since those tend to be more busy for most people, but now that we're running into Fall, looks like food night will pick up again. This time, it was Thai.

I've never cooked Thai food before. So, after much research for a recipe I wanna do, (usually something that I'd imagine to be tasty but does not require a whole lot of work ... which is how I'd generally look up recipes anyway), I picked up the ingredients and went home to do a test run on the recipe first. I wanted to be the first to taste what the heck I was going to be serving people. I cheated a little and made a sample portion at home the night before.

In fact, I tried out two different recipes for prawns. One was a coconut prawn and the other was a lemon grass prawn. After the sample run, I liked both recipes and decided just to make both. 

The coconut prawn had about ten different ingredients. Coconut milk, coriander, red chili peppers, fish sauce, brown sugar, green onion, lime juice... are some that I can remember. Mix it all together. 1/3 becomes a marinate. 2/3 becomes the dipping sauce after the prawns are grilled. Frankly, when I mixed the ingredients together for the sauce, I took a sniff of it and thought it was foul-smelling. I thought to myself, god, thank goodness I'm trying this out beforehand. Can I serve this to people? But I later discovered... I shouldn't expect fish sauce to smell like roses... and it actually tastes way better than it smells.

Marinating the prawn, I found, didn't do much to enhance the flavours (but that's what the recipe called for) so it was all in the dipping sauce afterwards.

Getting the grills marks on...

This recipe has a nice balance of sweet, tangy, and salty. The coconut milk acts as a great buffer in cutting the heat from the peppers. Some of my friends seemed to really enjoy this one.

The other type of prawns are stir-fried with lemon grass. To be honest, the recipe was for a spicy and sweet sauce. I went and added lemon grass, which was an ingredient listed in a different thai recipe. I was hoping to add in a bit more of that Thai flavour rather than it turning out more like a sweet, Chinese dish. So, yes... I've never cooked Thai... and I went and made up my own Thai recipe. 

When I tried out this recipe at home, it was really to-die-for. Even my dad (my guinea pig) said it was a nice powerful flavour, and he preferred it over the coconut prawns. Unfortunately, when I went and reproduced it at Thai night, I was in a bit of a rush to get it all done in time for dinner... I didn't bother measuring the ingredients to the tee. Instead, I eye-balled it. As a result, the flavour wasn't quite the same as when I made it at home. 

Didn't matter too much. I knew Maria would eat it all up regardless ... her love for prawns (or anything seafood really) wouldn't care if my prawns weren't the same as the day before.

I found this dish rather interesting. This is a Thai omelette in the making. 

When I first arrived at Kat's, I noticed Eddie sitting in a corner facing away from the kitchen... staring so intently at his phone watching some youtube video. I had asked him, "Are you done cooking already?".

He replied, "No, I'm watching a video on the technique to make it." (Leave it to Eddie to always find something challenging to make... even if "just" an omelette). 

And you should have seen this in the making. The key is, as Eddie explained, to get the oil really hot. Beat the eggs like crazy to get a lot of air in it. When the eggs hit the pan in the hot oil, I watched it foam up like a cloud. It raised almost as high as the pan. It looked so fluffy. The point was to get it crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. I get all crazy when I see things I've never seen before, especially with something so simple as eggs. 

Here is the crispy cloud almost ready to be plated. Eddie said in hindsight, he would have done the egg first before frying the back bacon that he used for the filler. All the bits left from frying the back bacon left the omelette a little "dirty". When I ate it, it was exactly as described. The texture was interesting for eggs. 

This is Fran's Thai iced tea. I'm not sure why Thai iced tea has that vibrant, almost-neon orange colour. Fran brewed a crapload of tea leaves in a pot, and made this super potent tea.

I loooove Thai iced tea. I was first introduced to it at a Thai restaurant when I lived in Victoria. We frequented that restaurant a lot, so a nice Thai iced tea brings a little nostalgia. I limit my consumption of caffeine now, (it was tough with the love that I had for coffee and black tea), but I had to have this one. 

This food group has their own chatroom in whatsapp. The conversation we had the following morning was pretty entertaining. The potent Thai iced tea left most people wired till 3am or sleepless. Those who had to work the next morning suffered a little. People took pictures of their morning remedy to a bad night of sleep, and sent it over whatsapp chat - which was of course, more caffeine. Those who didn't have to work didn't get up till noon and joined in on the chat much later. Needless to say, the Thai iced tea destroyed us all. 

But, it was all worth it. 


( Next food night challenge : Momo's. (Look it up under "Tibetan" food). We'll be all making Momo's. Funny that we have a bag full of different cultures and foods that we draw from for our next session, and we still haven't been able to get away from Asia! So far, we've done Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Indian, and Thai. )

More photos to come.

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