Sometimes, like when I'm thrown a last-minute article I didn't plan for, or a freelancer dropped the ball, or sources refuse to call me back no matter how many times I try them, work is beyond frustrating. Other times, when I get to interview cool people or attend an unique event, it's pretty awesome. This was one of those times. Plate 108, a cooking class venue in Greer, offered to let a reporter attend a Thai cooking class in July in exchange for press about it.
After telling my editor I wanted all food stories, I got first dibs on this, and oh baby, I took it.
And I'm so glad I did. I learned a lot - as you can see from my column here in our September issue. But I had a lot of fun, too. I learned how to make some Thai dishes that previously I would leave to the pros: Pad Kee Mao (drunken noodles) and Panang Curry, along with coconut jasmine rice.
Although, as I mentioned in my column, it was difficult since I was by myself, I still managed to pull it off, if awkwardly. The chef, Courtney McKnight, and the other staffers were extremely helpful and offered a hand or some advice when need be. And my dishes turned out amazing. That's why I'm sharing the Pad Kee Mao recipe with you below - it's so good.
And I had such fun that Brian and I have signed up for a Rome-themed cooking class on his birthday where we'll learn to make, among other things, gnocchi. So stay tuned, party people, and put your cooking pants on.
P.S. Photos courtesy of Amy Randall Photography, who always, always, always makes my articles look good. Greenvillians, check her out for all your photo needs.
pad kee mao (drunken noodles)
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/4 cups (1/2 lb.) fresh wide rice noodles
1/2 cup baby corn
1/2 cup shrimp, meat, or tofu (we didn't use this in our class)
2 tablespoons fresh green peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon smashed small Thai chilies
1 tablespoon sliced orange chili
1/2 cup packed Thai basil leaves and flowers
1 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon black soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon golden mountain soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons white sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
Separate the rice noodles by peeling them apart one at a time. Set aside.
Slice the baby corns in half lengthwise.
Crush the garlic and chiles and set aside.
Pick off the leaves and flowers of the basil and set aside.
Chop the large chili into rings.
If you're using meat or tofu, pre-fry in hot oil until browned. Set aside.
Add oil to a pan and heat on high until it "dances."
Add garlic, chilies, and green peppercorns, stirring frequently.
When garlic turns light brown, add veggies and meat if adding.
Keep stirring and cook until finished, about a minute. You might need to add some water to keep it from sticking.
Add tofu (if using), and then the noodles. You may need to add more water if the pan gets dry again, but not too much or it will make the noodles mushy.
After a minute or two, add the soy sauces, sugar, and oyster sauce. Stir well to mix.
Add the basil and vinegar. Stir to mix.
When the basil is wilted, it's done.
I didn't even try to calculate this. Consume at your own discretion.