I stumbled across Brown Rice/Organic Bistro while wandering the streets of Chiang Mai and was drawn in by the picture of the Tom Yum drink that advertised the establishment. I went to have a look at the menu which was led by such an unusual idea and was impressed to see an array of delicious looking and fabulously presented dishes.
We went back and had a feast of Banana Blossom Curry Cakes, Thai Herb Salad and Spicy Tofu with Basil leaves (a vegetarian take on Thai standard Pad Krapow)
The food was amazing although the setting was incongruous being in the front of the Green Oasis guesthouse. Its a nice enough place with some fun people but not really the right setting for chef Duang’s excellent food when Tony, the dreadlocked manager comes out dressed only in a towel.
We chatted with Duang about his story as the author of several Thai cookbooks and his work as a “food stylist” for various magazines and restaurants. Impressed by his love of food and his enthusiasm for new and innovative vegetarian dishes we decided to sign up for a one day private cooking class the following week.
Here he taught us his take on the classic Pad Thai fried noodle dish – with the addition of a very beautiful “egg net” and how to make Tamarind Sauce, which he uses in many of his dishes. We learnt his take on satay, using tofu and mushrooms and the traditional soups Tom Yum and Tom Kha which are very similar. Tom Kha has the addition of coconut milk rather than the spicy and sour taste of clear Tom Yum.
During our cooking class we got talking about the prospect of an English cookbook and he seemed interested in working with me after I mentioned my food blogging past. We actually went back several times in the next week because one of his assistants didn’t turn up and he appreciated our help in the kitchen. It was during this time that the cookbook plan came into fruition.
I spent some time on Ko Phangan, which I’ll write about soon, and then came back to meet Duang just before he moves to his new restaurant near the beautiful Wat Phra Singh.
We have been working together for the last week and have already accumulated 7 recipes for the book starting with Mee Gati, thin rice noodles with coconut cream sauce.
I then learnt Curry Soy Cakes which is a variation on his Banana Blossom recipe but with tofu since that is more accessible for a western audience. These are just like Thai fish cakes but suitable for vegetarians and served with quickly deep fried crispy Thai Basil leaves for an aromatic crunch.
Pineapple Fried Rice is a fruity dish in its own right and his crispy tofu with spicy green Mango salad is just unbelievably good. Yesterday we took part in a free cooking class he gives on the last Saturday of every month as part of a Government initiative to help small businesses. We learnt his take on potato samosas and Salad Khaek or Indian salad, a Thai “fusion” dish which is unlike any salad I have had in India or elsewhere but with a delicious dressing.
I’ll be in Chiang Mai for the next month or so working with Duang and compiling a set of recipes for us to include while learning some fantastic Thai cooking and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on my progress.