Monday, February 21, 2011

Koh Samui: Food and SITCA

Two great things about vacationing on an island in the Gulf of Siam: Thai food in general, and fresh seafood in particular.  Above is over one pound of red snapper, grilled to perection at a cookery called Sea One located on the beach.  The fish was sold by weight, 50 Baht per 100 g, with a baked potato thrown in.  The sauces were flavorful, but the spicy hot sauce in the pepper-shaped dish was a little hot even for me.

Looking east from my table at Sea One
Seafood is far from the only option.  Below is Tommy's "Swiss-style" fried potatoes and sliced pork, with a sour cream and white wine reduction, silky and delicious:

Sunday is "Roast Night" at The Lazy Coconut up on the highway.  I had the lamb, and it came with potatoes, dressing, mixed veg and a Yorkshire pudding.  And fantastic gravy.

Okay, so there's a sampling of the food--every restaurant also offers breakfast, usually anytime, American, English or Continental. The Twins has perhaps the best Thai food in the neighborhood, followed by Mah-Yom. 

One night, I decided to take a Thai cooking class at SITCA (Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts), all the way over at Chaweng, and had so much fun making so much great food, I had to go back.  It is pricey at about 2000 Bt (USD 65), but highly informative, and well-run, with loads of assistants so you're never left waiting around, and lots of fresh ingredients.  The first night's menu was fried rice, deep fried chicken with lemon grass, spicy coconut milk soup with seafood and chu chi curry with fish:

Some photos of the preparation:

Fresh pandan leaf

Thai ginger, and the regular kind

A variety of peppers
Combining the chicken-shrimp mixture

Sampling the results
So I went back on Monday evening (the class runs from 4 to about 8 PM) for the chance to make a curry from scratch, in this case the Massaman style, which is probably a corruption of Musselman which is a corruption of Muslim--Muslims comprise a large segment of the population of southern Thailand.   The menu was massaman curry chicken, pork spring rolls and spicy prawn salad with lemon grass:

The curry paste is made by combining a lot of chili peppers with several other spices, like coriander root, lemon grass, galangal, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, shallot, garlic, anise, clove and black peppercorn and pounding them together for about one month with a mortar and pestle.  It ends up like this (shown with some palm sugar):

To make the dish, chunks of chicken, onion and boiled potato are added to the heated curry paste in a wok and stir-fried for one or two minutes.  Chicken stock, coconut cream and tamarind juice are added.  What the hell is tamarind?  Well, the pod looks kind of like an enormous smooth peanut, and the fruit inside looks like this:

Finally, add fish sauce, palm sugar and boil it up for two or three minutes:

Bon appetit!


Tanner Brown said...

Wow, food from above -- I oughta try that. Oh wait!

Tanner Brown said...

Cooking class -- awesome activity. I'll be expecting you to whip up some Thai dishes next time I come to Seoul. (By the way, I am in your hallway right now.)