Experience not objects – Recipease (Jamie Oliver) Thai cooking class

Recipease Thai Dinner feast

You can tell it’s Jamie Oliver themed because there’s an entirely-unnecessary wooden board

At some point I may have mentioned that my New Year’s resolution was to spend more of my money on experiences rather than objects.

My friends clearly heard this, because in the rash of birthdays that happens around this time of year a lot of the presents exchanged have been experience-based.

The first one for me was a cookery lesson of my choice at “Recipease”, a vaguely Jamie-Oliver-related small chain of cafe/shop/school places. I picked the “Thai dinner feast”, mainly because it was 2 hours and 3 dishes and I wanted to get my money’s worth.

I’ll copy the recipes from the official end-of-lesson recipe book, and annotate where it differed.

The kitchen before we made a mess of it

The kitchen before we made a mess of it

Hot and sour soup

Ingredients
1 litre stock (I am obviously not going to make my own veg stock)
2 small green or red chillies
2 medium shallots
1 small piece ginger (about 2cm)
4 small tomatoes
150 g oyster mushrooms
8 each king prawns (shell on) (we only got one each! also – shell on is messy and pointless)
50 ml Fish sauce (this is a LOT of fish sauce and yes we did use a lot)
2 dessert spoons Palm sugar (I asked about substitutions here because I’m pretty unlikely to go and buy palm sugar – any brown is good, light muscovado nice for caramelly flavour)
3 Limes (juice) to taste
Coriander (stalks and leaves separated)
2 strips spring onions, thinly sliced

Put your stock into a pot and bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low then simmer
Cut the shallot in half, remove the skin, then thinly slice
Cut the tomato in half and remove the seeds. Put the seeds into the stock, then slice the
tomato flesh into strips
Peel the skin from the ginger, then julienne it (thin strips like matchsticks)
Using a pin prick the chilies with small holes. Throw this straight into your simmering stock
Peel the oyster mushrooms into strips using your fingers
Peel the prawns keeping the tail on. The shells can be used in the stock for flavour then
discarded before eating
When the stock is simmering add in the fish sauce, lime juice, coriander stalks and palm
sugar. This is added to your taste. Don’t be shy with these ingredients, these will help you
get your sweet, salty and sour flavour. Adjust to your taste
Your stock can now sit until you are ready to prepare the soup
Ten minutes before serving the soup, remove the prawn shells
Heat the stock then add in the sliced ginger, shallots, tomatoes, oyster mushrooms and
peeled prawns.
Simmer until the prawns are cooked. This will only take 3-4 minutes
Adjust the flavour to your taste; Salty(fish sauce), sweet (sugar), hot (chilli), sour (lime
juice). For an extra kick, add a tiny amount of shrimp paste
Portion out the soup and garnish with thinly sliced spring

Apparently salty is the opposite of sweet, and sour is the opposite of hot, so taste and balance.

Sticky beef

A drizzle of Vegetable oil
2-3 teaspoons Cornflour
600 g minced beef
3-4 teaspoons chilli and garlic paste (just chillis and garlic bashed up in a pestle and mortar)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 dessert spoons Palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
Fish sauce, to taste
Rice vinegar, to taste
Small handful Basil and mint leaves (we only had coriander)
3 strips Spring onions
Small handful chopped cashew nuts (we didn’t have any of these, possibly due to allergies?)
Lime wedge on side
Cooked Jasmine rice
Sauté greens (broccoli and pak choi quickly fried in the same pan as the beef with a bit of oil and fish sauce)

Put the beef into a large bowl, then add the cornflour and using your fingers coat every
lump of beef with the corn flour. Don’t be tempted to use too much cornflour
Heat a large sauté pan and add in the oil
When the oil is hot add in the crumbled beef mince and on a medium heat cook the beef
until it is golden brown all over and slightly crispy
Add in the chilli and garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds, then add in the thinly sliced
shallots and sweat till soft
Add in the palm sugar, fish sauce and rice vinegar – taste the beef and adjust the flavour to
your taste. You are looking for an even balance of sweet, salty, sour and hot
When you are happy with the flavour add in the roughly chopped mint and basil leaves and
half of the sliced spring onions sauté till the herbs are mixed in well
Add your cooked jasmine rice to the middle of the dish, the sticky beef to one side and the
sauté greens to the other
Garnish with sliced spring onions and lots of fresh coriander with a lime wedge on the side

Results

Both were very tasty. The third dish was a coconut rice pudding made with the leftover rice which I’m not going to talk about here because

  1. I didn’t make it at all
  2. I don’t like sweet coconut

The soup was nice but didn’t feel like I was learning much (apart from the salt/sweet, hot/sour opposites, which I’ve yet to test) because I quite often make Asian-y broth soup for dinner anyway. I’ve just tried to find a link and apparently ‘ve never blogged this even though it’s one of my staples, so expect it soon!

The chilli beef was very nice and crunchy/crispy. We weren’t given a lot of advice over how much chilli to use, and apparently shop-bought chillis can be very variable in heat. Using mince and cornflour seemed like a great idea, and easier than trying to get steak strips exactly cooked enough. I’ve bought pak choi before and not known exactly what to do with it so I was pleased there too.

The afternoon was well-run and the chef giving the instructions was entertaining and good at speaking. I’d definitely recommend.

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