It’s been a quiet week after the swamps last week. There is sports day, clubs starting, friends to play with and friends to be made.

I have also had my first foray into the world of asian cooking. The lovely Aly from Bangkok has been my teacher. There is nothing like learning to cook from a real-life person. One of the things I love about food is being able to conjure up events, times and people in my head as I eat. Minx makes her chilli with baked beans and bacon (it’s amazing), Dom makes the best guacamole. Every time I eat them I am with that person, even when I’m not. Aly completely understands this. She was brought up in Bangkok and when she was small her parents would often travel or entertain. Her nanny came from the ‘countryside’ in Thailand so would cook simple regional food for herself and Aly. Food is a comfort blanket the world over.

When I go home I am going to start Food Story Night. You take it in turns for a friend to teach you how to cook a meal their way, a recipe that means something to them. Food and a story, my two favourite things.

So we went to Aly’s favourite place to eat Thai food. If you are in Singapore, I’m talking about the Golden Mile shopping complex off the Nicoll Highway.

Aly orders a selection of dishes for us to try – roast chicken, papaya salad with prawns and another vermicelli noodle salad dish and sticky rice. Before the food comes, the lady running the place puts down a tray of raw cabbage and two small plastic bags. Okaaaay. The plastic bag contained the sticky rice – it wasn’t so much sticky as welded. You prise pieces of rice out of the bag and dunk it in the sauce. After the first mouthful I discovered what the raw cabbage is for. It takes the heat out of your mouth if the food is too spicy. That really works and I ate a fair old bit of raw cabbage with this meal. Aly said that she would order her favourite childhood meal – black spider crabs – but she could guarantee I wouldn’t like it. She’s right, it was a spicy, salty, fishy burn-your-tongue-off-why-would-you-eat-this kind of a taste.

Thai meal with Aly

Then it was time to do ingredients. I got carried away in the supermarket and bought this…

Thai food shopping

I had pandan leaves, thai basil, baby aubergines, thai curry paste, fish sauce, chilli sauce and other stuff….and I should have labelled the bottles in English as now I’m a bit unsure…

I’m still trialling recipes so will share some later but here’s my discovery so far. Chinese food has a trinity of flavours as a base note for most of the food – garlic, ginger and soy. The Thai food that Aly is teaching me to cook has a different base note – garlic, lemongrass and chilli. Fresh and sour. Chalk and cheese.

I’m learning a whole different approach to food. When examining the coriander our conversation went like this:

Aly: …The roots of the coriander are used to flavour Tom Yum Soup.

Me: You mean the stalks.

Aly: No, the roots. Why would you eat the stalks, they’re bitter.

Me: Because Jamie Oliver told me to.

Aly: No, just… No.

And so, I discovered in that moment why in Singapore you always buy your coriander looking like this..

coriander

Love it.

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