Two weekends ago I was invited to a class at The Golden Pig in Brisbane. I’d heard about the cooking school and about Katrina Ryan and I REALLY wanted to go. Life is incredibly busy right now with lots going on and then there are the olds to consider.
Then I remembered something my friend Judith said, “Your first duty of care is to yourself, Maureen.” I smiled and to myself said, “You’re worth it.”
I’m so glad I went. It was the best cooking class I have ever attended and I’m not surprised that people come from all over Australia and the world to take classes from Katrina. She learned Thai cooking from Neil Perry who learned it from David Thompson, the Australian chef whose restaurant in Bangkok is the best there is. Katrina went on to become the head chef at Rockpool and later was the personal chef of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman when they were in Australia. She also taught at the Spirit House on the Sunshine Coast – probably our most well known (and well loved) restaurant.
She’s a sharp cookie and I’m sure she doesn’t suffer fools easily, but she was such a good teacher. She explained each ingredient, how to prep it, how it could be cooked and showed every step of every recipe. None of us left that school not knowing how to make all the dishes.
We began by making the curry pastes in our mortars and learned to hit with the pestle and not ‘stir’ with it as I have been wont to do upon occasion. No more! We made Red Curry with Salmon and Green Peppercorns, Massaman Curry of Lamb with Sweet Potatoes and Fried Cashews and Northern Thai Pork Curry with Tamarind and Ginger. My team made the salmon curry.
We soaked dried long red chillies in boiling water and then removed the seeds and chopped finely before adding to the mortar along with all the other ingredients for the red curry paste. Once all the curry pastes were made, it was time to prep the other ingredients. I learned to carefully (and thinly) slice krachai from the ginger family. It imparts a slightly bitter taste that adds another layer of flavour. Nothing was difficult but it does take a bit of time. Curry paste can be made well ahead of time and keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Then Katrina showed us how to make each dish. First she showed us how to take the top of the coconut cream and put it in the wok and cook until it ‘cracked’ and released its oil. Then the curry paste was added. Oh the aroma in that room!
Once all the curries were made and the salad was prepped and dressed, it was time to eat and eat we did. It was an outstanding day and I hope to attend another class by Katrina in the future. Come with me!