Friday, August 19, 2011

Cooking Asian food using Western method

I hope I didn't shock you too much with this opening photo. Look what we did to the poor tilapia. After cleaning it out, we stuffed coriander and bay leaves into the fish. Then, we shoved 2 long lemongrass down its throat. Literally. You can guess by now we are doing Thai cuisine. Then we poured some light soy sauce and oyster sauce through its open mouth. Sorry, fish. We used coarse rock salt on its skin - scales on - and put it to grill for 30 minutes. We are learning and applying dry cooking methods on Asian food.

We learned how to check for freshness - the fish must have clear eyes, not cloudy ones; its skin must be firm and slimy, pink gills and there must of course be no stale smell. 

Mine's the middle one. Papa fish, mama fish and baby fish.
This is how it looks out of the grill oven. 
All 15 of us grabbed our forks and went at the 6 tilapias we were given. It was savage and wild.  We peeled off the layer of skin easily to remove all that salt. The meat was soft, juicy, tender. 
I didn't linger around the fish for too long. I had 2 other distractions - chicken wrapped in pandan leaves and Thai pineapple fried rice. Thai Chef demonstrated how to wrap a 4-cm piece of marinated chicken using pandan leaves. It sounded and looked difficult to me, but an hour later, I got the hang of it and at one stage seriously thought, maybe, just maybe, I used to be a Thai village girl married to a snake charmer. Our pet was an elephant.

Steamed version
Deep fried version
I'm not a deep-fried person but I found this version tastier, especially with the caramelisation of the dark soya sauce. And maybe because my culinary senses are stimulated and I am more open to the idea of fried food after yesterday.

Oh, I also made this Thai pineapple fried rice (recipe here) all by myself (can you see my smug look). I was very pleased with this one too. Like,.. seriously pleased in a deep way. Got it?

Thai pineapple fried rice
So, I was heading out together with Eli, so pleased with myself and with every dish I learned to make today, and thinking what a great day in the kitchen, and I would die happy now...when I walked into this!

The pastry class was making Jewish Callah bread! I grabbed Eli and said, You have to go in there and tell them about Callah. What do they know?? So, we went in and chatted with the pastry chef. Callah bread is baked every Friday in Israel in time for Sabbath and a day of cooking, feasting, singing and dancing all through Saturday. To keep strictly kosher, there should be no milk or butter in them when eating on Fridays.

Jewish Callah bread
Chef gave me a piece - it was warm to touch and very soft on the palate.
Just a really great day today. I whispered thanks to God above - the true Bread - then rushed out to meet my dear sister for lunch. Food again!

Click here to see how my mom makes a 10-minute whole fish dish.

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