I don’t cook a lot, and I certainly haven’t on this trip, but I do enjoy a cooking class. I signed up for one and it started with a trip to the morning market. They showed us all of the ingredients needed to cook our menu for the day. I was surprised by how many different types of ginger they used! After shopping, we went to the kitchen. It happened to be in an outdoor kitchen in the middle of a rice field. Before starting, we made the little palm leave boxes used for offerings.
The class was very hands on, which was evident from my bright yellow fingers after chopping the turmeric root. After prepping the ingredients, the most important being the basic sauce which is in every single dish they cook (besides dessert), came steaming and frying.
Basic Sauce (Basa Gede):
25 shallots, peeled and chopped
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
7 large red chillis, seeded and chopped
10cm galangal, peeled and chopped
10cm turmeric, peeled and chopped
5cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
6 candlenuts (similar to macadamia nuts)
½ teasp black peppercorns
½ teasp white peppercorns
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch cumin seeds
¼ teasp sesame seeds
2 teasp belacan or shrimp paste. If you’re vegan, you can substitute oyster or mushroom sauce
1 stalk lemongrass. Smashed with the back of a knife until it’s pliable, and tied into a knot
2 salam leaves(or bay or curry leaf)
150ml coconut oil
My favorite thing to cook was the saté, where I layered on fried tofu, peppers, and their famous tempe (peanut and fermented mushroom paste). As they day continued, my appetite was growing and finally it was time to enjoy the fruit (or rice) of our labor. The flavors were incredible, I credit the basic sauce, which is like Sriracha or Ketchup to us. They also cooked everything with a vegetable stock made with palm leaves and coconut oil which in my mind balanced out all of the rice. We filled up on lunch, enjoyed a green palm pancake stuffed with sweet coconut dessert and headed home. The best part about a cooking class is that you get to skip the clean up afterwards 😉
I write this 5 days later from Thailand because you know what they say, do things that make you forget to check your phone, or in this case, computer.