Meditations

New Classes at South China Seas


south china seasThe other day I was talking about regionalism in food and what determines what dishes get to represent a culture abroad. “Take Thai food,” I said, “Northern Thai cuisine is really quite different from all the coconut curries and pad thai that are popular.” I have  South China Seas to thank for that, having just taken their inaugural northern Thai regional cooking class with Ben.

Northern Thai is distinguished by sticky (glutinous) rice, coconut-less curries and a preference for land animals over fish and seafood. In a few hours, we were instructed on the making of Thai stick rice (khao niaw), Chiang Mai chili relish (nam prik num), Burmese-style pork curry (kaeng hang leh muu), grilled beef salad with herbs (yam neua nam tok), and  curried noodles with duck (khao soi pet). And then we got to eat it!

The first dish was Thai stick rice, which uses a special Laotian pot to steam, and is served out of bamboo baskets for eating with your hands, as it is usually too sticky for utensils. Here’s a video of it being made. My favourite by far, however, was the grilled beef salad. I’ve been making variations on this for quite a while, but I’m throwing out all my existing recipes and using this one from now on. Rare beef, sliced thin and covered with toasted rice, chilis, herbs and lime juice, and flavours and textures are hitting every part of your mouth. It was invigorating.

South China Seas’ Victoria Drive location is set up with a kitchen, so Don and his team prepared the dishes and handed over plates of delicious dishes, along with recipe handouts and wine. He comes from a background in professional cooking and the intimate class size (12) meant that we could ask questions and discuss dishes with other classmates.

The next class on offer is The Food of the South: the Isthmus of Kora on November 26th. It will explore Thai dishes with a Malay-Indonesian influence. Call the store at 604-681-5402 to register.

South China Seas is located at 1904 Grant Street (corner of Grant and Victoria).

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