“Kem, Kem, kem”
My students and colleague, Jintana, waved their hands in front of their mouths and giggled.
I knew what they were saying. Craig and I had given them vegemite to try the week before and they shouted the same words as they raced in horror for the sugar bowl to sprinkle on top.
I had obviously messed up somewhere with my Massaman beef, our favourite Thai dish.
Every Friday Jintana arrived at school with a serving of it in a plastic bag from the local food market promising to teach me how to cook Thai food.
What she didn’t know was that I am not all that great in the kitchen. (Kalyra is often heard saying, “Mummy is not a good cooker!”)
Jintina had faith in me though and under the shade of the trees outside her office she tried to teach me how to cook Thai food.
Like all Thais, Jintina knows, by some strange other-worldly cook-sense, exactly what a dish needs without a recipe or measuring cups.
That magic didn’t infiltrate my DNA so a bit of fish sauce here and some palm sugar there ended up with me being a little heavy on the fish sauce.
Kem kem- salty
Learning how to cook Thai food in Chiang Rai
I’ve wanted to perfect the art of Thai cooking since failing miserably in the courtyard of our Wat Saket school and Golden Mountain home.
I had my chance to once again learn how to cook Thai food on our Friendship to Friend tour of Thailand. We had Thai cooking lessons in the resort in Suantip Wana Resort in Chiang Rai where we were staying.
I was in good company with Thai chefs standing around me. I call them chefs because they were Thai and all Thais are born knowing how to whip up seriously good food. There was one real ex-chef in our group and a current practicing one. Charlark used to own a Thai restaurant in Sydney and Weha Currently owns Thairiffic in Newtown.
To make it easier, all serving portions were pre-measured out and ready for us to tip into the fry pan. My kind of cooking.
We stood around the cooking table with our white aprons and hats on and big carving knifes and watched as the head chef demonstrated each step of the process of cooking traditional Pad Thai and spring rolls.
Cooking made simple.
Then we were sent to our stations to recreate what we just saw. Assistance was given as needed and it was amazing to me that I had created something that tasted like a magical Thai dish. I had even managed to roll the perfect spring roll.
There were no shouts of kem this time as we sat down to enjoy our creation. The local school band entertained us with traditional Thai music as we ate. The children were adorable and we were happy to share our food with them, especially after the tasting of our dishes I was told the real main meal was about to start.
“What?? I thought this was it.”
“No no. We are having our banquet dinner together.”
Thais are the masters of cooking and the masters of eating. You will never go hungry when you dine with Thai people. The food keeps coming despite your protests of “Im im“- full full.
To be honest, in Thailand I am happy to keep eating and eating and eating.
Now I just have to cook these recipes at home to prove to Kalyra that mummy can cook after all.
Have you learned how to cook Thai food at Thai cooking class before?