Friday, February 18, 2011

Truly Thai at Home

I cannot believe it’s already been almost three weeks since Tiffaney and I spent the evening learning how to make some super delicious and interesting Thai food recipes with Chef Heidi Fink and a room full of other happy foodies!

Within weeks of returning to Victoria I happened upon mentions of Chef Heidi numerous times!  I think the first was a random tweet that led me to her blog which was featuring a fabulous Apricot Crunch recipe I bookmarked.  Then we encountered her at Feast of Fields where we tasted one of her signature Indian inspired dishes.  Later a friend told me that it’s Heidi that offers these great tours of Victoria’s Chinatown and after visiting her website a few times I wanted to sign up for every cooking class she offers!


(On a personal note: it turns out Heidi and I have real life friends in common.  We were at the same Halloween party and didn’t realize who she was. ha.)

A lot of you may remember that when I was looking for a place to live for my return to Victoria I really struggled and ended up actually finding a place without even being here.  Tiffaney was so amazingly instrumental in securing the apartment that I now own and call home.  She was my eyes and ears, she visited it with my realtor, she took a zillion photos, she did the walk through with the inspector.  And never asked for anything in return.


Knowing full well I could never repay her for all of her time and generosity I still wanted to give her a gift to let her know how grateful I am for her help.  When Heidi’s December email newsletter came out with the list of her upcoming class schedule I knew exactly what to do!  After a read through the list I settled on Truly Thai at Home (Basic) and signed both Tiffaney and myself up right away.  I presented her with the gift at Christmas time and we both impatiently waited for our class night to arrive at the end of January.


Finally the night came for us to pack up our trusty kitchen knives, don our cute aprons and head to cooking school!

All twenty students sat around a big table, family style, where Heidi started us off with a fun little Thai flavour snack.  You’ll have to take the class to see about that!  After showing us some of the interesting ingredients we would be using and learning about and giving us a demonstration on the Quick Weeknight Red Curry we were divided into teams of two and each team was given a recipe to work on. So fun!

Tiffaney and I chose to make the Thai-Style Stir-Fried Greens.


We were introduced to new-to-us ingredients that made the dish fun and extra delicious!  Salted soy beans…


(I know some of you are hoping for actual recipes but that would be like giving away Heidi’s trade secrets, so if you are local sign up for a class!  Otherwise, stay tuned for future posts where I actually cook and hopefully have some recipe love for you.)

Our second course was Thai-Style Shrimp Cakes topped with Hot and Sour Cucumber Relish.  You’re drooling already right?


The base of these cakes was shredded sweet potato and in traditional Thai style they incorporate dried shrimp instead of fresh.  At the end of the evening I chose this as my favourite dish.

Next up we tried the Tom Yam Gung (Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup)


If you take anything away from this post…take “side stripe shrimp” with you.  These shrimp (purchased from a local fresh seafood shop) were meaty and amazing.  I don’t think I’ll ever look at plain old store bought shrimp and prawns the same way again.

The broth was made using the shrimp shells and a bouquet of aromatic deliciousness…lemongrass, galangal and keffir lime leaves to name a few.


The main event (if you will) was the Quick Weeknight Red Curry served over Jasmine Rice.  Because this is the basic class Heidi teaches us how turn store-bought red curry paste into something slightly more authentic by using a variety of fresh ingredients to jazz it up.  It’s all about cooking the curry paste so it becomes fragrant!


Something else…a can of coconut milk should not “slosh” when you shake it.  It should be pretty much a solid, and when you open it up it should have separated into thick coconut “cream” at the top of the can.  Who knew?

After all of that we were all getting fabulously full but we still had a round of Spicy Thai-Style Noodles with Tofu to get to!


This dish was prepped by two students but finished off by Heidi so it would be crisp and fresh when it hit the table. The key to this was the medium (not firm!) tofu baked with sesame oil, and the giant pile of fresh herbs and lime juice added at the end.


Of course no Thai meal would be complete without a dessert made from Fruit and Sticky Rice!  I am planning to become best friends forever with a large pot of Thai Sweet Rice combined with coconut milk and palm sugar.


Lord help me.  Since mangoes are currently out of season Heidi chose fresh golden kiwi to top our sweet rice.

So who’s up for a trip to Chinatown this weekend?  I’m in need of multiple Asian necessities stat!  And apparently I’ll require about 23 dinner guests so I have reason to cook all of this delightful stuff.  Who’s in?!

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Anonymous said...

Amazing! Thai it is this weekend!

Chef Heidi Fink said...

Jaime, thanks for the great post! It even makes me want to take my own class :)

Christy said...

Wow I wish I was in Vic so I could take that class. Everything looks deelish!! :)

H-woman said...

Might need to plan a trip to Victoria around a cooking class!

Looks yummy!


Eva said...

Love Heidi and her classes! And I know what you mean about that sticky addictive!