DonQui Oaty is rather fond of Thai cuisine and he tastes some excellent dishes whilst in Bangkok — not least the set menu dinner at Chakrabongse Villas.
Wandering through the picturesque Tha Tien waterfront market, DonQui stumbles across the delightful Rongos restaurant. The name means House of Flavours and that is indeed what it is.
Here he samples morning glory (water spinach)— a favourite Thai vegetable — in this case in a tempura batter with tamarind and coconut dressing.
This is followed by fried rice with salted egg and grilled prawns. Both dishes are utterly delectable.
Michelin listed Rongos is very small and very popular — often booked up days in advance. DonQui is lucky to get a place on spec thanks to arriving when they open with enough time for him to have his meal and watch the sunset over the river before the booked diners arrive to take his table.
Keen to improve his own cookery skills, DonQui books himself in on a course at Silom Thai Cooking School. Here he learns all about the key ingredients of Thai cuisine. Not all of these will be easy to get back home, so he will have to think about substitutes or make an occasional trip to London’s Asian markets.
He is not entirely unhappy to find that he is the only westerner, only male, and only donkey on the course.
DonQui learns how to make Tom Yum Goong — a sweet and sour soup with great depth of flavour. It is very quickly cooked up in a wok with coconut milk which he makes himself by hand-squeezing freshly grated coconut.
He also cooks up a pretty good Pad Thai, learning to vary the cutting of the hot bird’s eye chillies depending on how spicy he wants it. If he wants it fiery — cut the chillies and then crush them with the flat of the knife blade. For pretty hot — cut them fine, and for a milder version (but still with some heat) cut them into relatively large pieces.
And here is his completed dish.
His is quite proud of his green curry with chicken and round Thai eggplant. He makes the paste by hand with a mortar and pestle, the green colour base coming from a dozen long green spur chillies (crushed into the paste). Spur chillies are quite mild. A red curry is made using red spur chillies (also relatively mild). As a rule of thumb DonQui’s instructor says that larger chillies are milder than small ones.
The delectable mango sticky rice is mostly prepared by the staff although the various steps are clearly explained and demonstrated. DonQui will try this at home.
All of the recipes are pretty simple and very quick to cook — almost always in a wok on high heat. Armed with an illustrated recipe book DonQui can hone his skills when he gets home.