A Colourful Affair

Great Thai food, for me, is synonymous with wonderously generous portions, close friends and family and colour. Lots and lots of colour, both literally – beautiful and brilliant reds, greens, oranges, yellows – and metaphorically, in terms of the taste – a perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour elements and different textures throughout the dishes.

About one month ago my friends and I organised one of our delightful dinners together (that’s not a typo by the way, we really do need to organise things like this very well in advance) and decided on Thai as a theme, which if I recall correctly was inspired by one of the girls’ recent trips to Thailand and Bali.

There was more than enough food, as there always is at these kinds of things, but everything was delicious (except for 1/2 of my dessert – more on that soon).

There was a refreshing and vibrant tofu salad with lemongrass, crispy noodles and cashews dressed in Thai chilli sauce:

Vibrant Asian salad. Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

The always-reliable and tasty Pad Thai:

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

For mains there was also a Thai red curry with chicken and mixed veges served with sticky white rice but unfortunately I failed to get a photo of it. It was very well-seasoned with Thai spices and red chillis, which gave it a really nice kick.

For dessert, coconut creme brulee with toasted dessicated coconut:

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

The reason I say 1/2 of my dessert wasn’t quite as good as everything else is because I tested two different recipes for creme brulee and all the desserts made from one recipe were undercooked and failed to set. I have to say the flavour was fine, it probably needed a good 15-20 minutes more in the oven. The recipe I followed can be found here.

I made the other creme brulees using the same recipe I follow for creme caramel and those turned out lovely. The reason I chose to follow this recipe, as opposed to a traditional/authentic creme brulee recipe was because I’ve made it twice before and it has always tasted amazingly delicate and fresh. I didn’t make it as a creme caramel for this dinner party because I didn’t want to stress about getting the custards out of the ramekins all perfect and in one piece! This recipe is a real winner and just boosts my love of My Kitchen Rules even more.

Because it was the host’s birthday the weekend before, our resident Baking Queen made a gorgeous yellow cake with buttercream frosting and it truly was something spectacular. The birthday girl loves beautiful things and so the cake reflected this:


Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Beautiful inside and out. Photo: Tao Lin

Coincidentally, the gift (beauty voucher) and birthday card were also presented in exactly the same colours. It was just meant to be!

We spent a good couple of hours after dinner chatting, gossiping, laughing, conversing and sometimes just sitting in brief silence sipping our tea. There’s something so heartwarming and special about these gatherings and I think a part of it is because we’ve all become so much busier now since we all left school.

When we do manage to get together, we eat too much, our conversation topics change ferociously and they’re always interjected with tremendous laughter and fits of giggles. But no matter what the conversation is about, whether it’s serious, lighthearted, trivial or meaningful, and how much effort it is to organise one of these gatherings, it is always a delightfully colourful affair.

Experimenting with Pad Thai

Earlier in the year, Andrew and I went to a social cooking class where we learned how to make Pad Thai, that popular, tasty street food that many think of when thinking about Thai cuisine. After learning just how simple it actually is to make, I was keen to try it at home myself and after a brief search on the internet, found this recipe: http://www.thaitable.com/thai/recipe/pad-thai and modified it based on the ingredients I had available.

For 4-6 servings, I used:

1 pack rice noodles
3 cups bean sprouts
1 spring onion
2 eggs
Approx. 6 teaspoons fish sauce
6 cloves minced garlic (I just mashed them up in a mortar and pestle)
1/2 brown onion (no shallots; crushed them with the garlic)
A pinch of ground white pepper
3 tablespoons peanuts – I toasted these in a frying pan first
About 12 prawns, shelled and deveined
1 disc of palm sugar – I was lazy and just broke it up into pieces with my hands but I would suggest taking the time to grate it if you’re just putting it straight into the wok with the noodles, as instructed in the recipe
4 tablespoons white rice vinegar (in place of the tamarind paste)
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot chilli sauce
Cooking oil

I followed the instructions as detailed in the recipe linked, using a wok.

The seasoning measurements (fish sauce, vinegar, chilli sauce, sugar, white pepper) were all just guesstimates in my case; I put in however much I needed to make it taste good for me. I think overall I held back on the flavours a bit because I didn’t want any to be overpowering. Consequently when it came down to eating the noodles, I ended up adding quite a bit more chilli sauce to bring out more spice and tanginess, but I preferred this to the overly tangy and salty result we got at the cooking class.

One major thing I would change for next time would be to get all of the seasoning sorted before I start cooking the noodles. We did this in the cooking class – heated fish sauce, tamarind paste, garlic paste, chilli paste and palm sugar together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolved and then added this to the noodles when cooking. I completely forgot we did this but to me, it’s way more logical and heaps easier, especially for dissolving the palm sugar. Naturally, you may have to adjust the taste some more once it is mixed in with the noodles.

I also had trouble keeping the noodles from sticking together in the wok but managed this somewhat by adding in little bits of water at a time when I needed to in order to separate things a little. As the author of the recipe states, this dish is meant to be dry so you just need to watch how much liquid you add in.

Served with roasted peanuts and fresh bean sprouts.