The pull and tug between winter and spring has finally marked its toll on me. After my daily morning run on Monday, I stepped out of the shower with a seemingly endless leaky nose. I thought I had outsmarted my symptoms with plenty of rest, but alas, on Thursday, the throat began to itch and the bones started to ache. Luckily, the onset of Friday brought an opportunity of uninterrupted sleep. On this lazy Saturday, nothing gives me more pleasure than the excuse of curling up in bed with my laptop, next to a cup of tea for some seriously overdue blogging.
A couple of Saturdays ago, Rachel invited me to a Thai New Years party, hosted by Phensri of “Fantastic Thai Cuisine.” If you know Rachel, you know that she loves all things Asian. Combine that with cooking, and you have a perfect match made in heaven. Needless to say, Rachel raved about the Thai class at our weekly Friday gatherings.
A little background on Phensri’s classes- She offers them in various locations in New Jersey (including Old Bridge and Princeton) as well as in NYC (Greenwich Village). Her regular classes range from $60-$100 depending on the location and all ingredient fees are included. Classes are structured so that every individual gets to prep, cook, and of course, eat!
We arrived at around 3:30pm to help prep for the official 6:30pm feasting. No hands were spared. While I dawdled a bit, snapping shots here and there, Phensri eventually entrusted me with the Chicken Satay. It was my job to put them on skewers. In general, we were able to get two pieces of chicken breast onto the skewers, as you want to leave at least 1.5-2 inches on the bottom for handling purposes. The top of the skewer should be buried in the chicken (we don’t want anything burning on the coals).
Chicken Satay: grilled aromatic chicken marinated with Thai herbs, served with Thai peanut sauce
We let Justin handle the grilling. No comments there…
Just kidding. Look at how wonderfully that batch came out!
Meanwhile, as I was skewering, Rachel shared the task of making these curry puffs filled with beef. They’re similar to samosas and empanadas, but to be honest, they’re the most bangin’ version I’ve ever had. The spice from the curry is an awesome explosion in the mouth. I think I overdosed on these, which led me to become incredibly full before dinner even started. It also didn’t help that I was sitting next to the fryer. Oops.
Curry Puff: Pastry dough stuffed with grounded beef, curry powder
Pre-frying. Because they were so good, I forgot to take pictures post-frying. Silly me.
Following the curry puff making, we started on vegetarian spring rolls. Despite how they look, they’re super easy and quick to make. You can buy a pack of spring roll wrappers at your local Asian mart for under $2, and fill them with whatever you want. Scoop the filling onto a bottom corner and fold up to cover the filling. Then, sweep in the left and right fold so that only one corner is left and roll upwards. Eventually, you’ll end up with a spring roll!
Vegetable Spring Roll: Deep fried with stir fried vegetable and glass noodles wrapped with spring roll skin, served with sweet chili sauce
The lady of the night who made everything possible- Phensri!
The last of the appetizers was the most anticipated and took the longest- Shrimp in a Blanket! Phensri literally bought a giant box of shrimp. They come frozen and you defrost them by running through cold water. You have to shell and devein them and in this case, pare them in half so that they can lie flat on the spring roll wrappers. Phensri then scooped a chicken mixture that she premade before rolling. To seal the “blanket,” mix a bit of cornstarch and water, and dunk your fingers and apply on the tip of the wrapper.
Shrimp in Blanket: Deep fried pastry stuffed with jumbo shrimp & ground chicken with Thai spices, served with sweet chili sauce.
Despite being super critical of himself, Justin turned out some pretty fantastic looking Shrimp in a Blanket.
The night was a blast and many thanks to Rachel for the invitation. Like many of these events that I attend, the night was marked by serendipity. First, after some methodical but painful deducing, a woman and I figured out that her son and I graduated from the same college. While I didn’t recognize his name at the time, upon some stalking (via Facebook), I realized that I have actually met her son through friends. Even more random was how I realized that a lady who I had been talking to for a good while was standing next to a very familiar looking man- that man taught at my middle school and was one of the most feared science teachers in the 7th grade. I ended the night by drinking wine that he now makes in his retired life.
Anyhow, if you’re interested in Thai cooking and you’re in the area, be sure to check out Phensri’s website. Everyone who she invited to the party was a student, and needless to say, they were all extremely friendly and inviting. They all had great things to say about the class and some have been long-time students. I’m adding the class onto my post June 2 bucket list.