Yesterday I took the first steps towards becoming a Thai master chef. My friend Mary and I signed up to take a cooking class offered by Helping Hands- a non-profit entity that helps people living in the Klong Toei slum build a better life for themselves by supporting micro-business opportunities. The Thai cooking class was taught by Khun Poo, a wonderful lady who was full of energy and laughter.
Our adventure began when Khun Poo picked us up from the Tesco Lotus located near our apartment. We then drove to the Klong Toei Market. The market begins at 2:00 am every day and is the source of fish, meat, fruits and vegetables for many of the restaurants and food vendors in our area. Khun Poo then led us on a tour around the market, stopping to point out exotic fruits and vegetables, and explaining how many of the ingredients we saw were used in Thai cooking.
Klong Toei Market.
Pickled garlic and dried onions.
Butchers preparing pig skins. Thai people like to deep fry the skins and put them on many of their dishes.
Squid in front, sea prawn in the middle and river prawn in the back.
Crab trussed and ready to cook.
Mmmm pork. According to Khun Poo many Thai of Chinese ancestry will leave pig heads like this at temples and shrines as offerings.
Many restaurants get their ingredients from this market. These vegetables are already chopped up and ready to use.
Grass hoppers ready to deep fry. This is the first time I've seen insects as food in Bangkok. It really isn't a common practice here in the city.
After our tour of the market, we took a van ride into the Klong Toei slums, to the small cooking classroom located across from Khun Poo's house. There we were taught how to make three Thai dishes; sum tom- a very spicy papaya salad ; tom yun goong- a soup with lemongrass and prawn; and pad thai gai- a fried noodle dish with chicken. We also had mango sticky rice for desert, but since Thai sticky rice takes 8-24 hours to make properly, we had rice that was already prepared.
Khun Poo teaching us how to make sum tom.
Tom yun goong boiling on the stove.
The ingredients for pad thai gai- minus the gai (chicken)
Mary and I cooking up a storm!
Pad thai gai plated and ready to eat. Tasty and good looking!