Beginner’s choice: First Steps in Baking and Cooking

It has been a busy week as usual, but I have had time to work on the Basics of Cooking Thai Workshop materials.

Val’s sourdough delight

While I was thinking of what I could feature for this week’s post, Val (of Val’s Amazing Lunchbox posts) sent photos of the sourdough bread she baked, with a note: “I baked this sourdough loaf recently and I just wanted to share my excitement with you! Sourdough can be very finicky in Singapore’s tropical humidity so it’s been a steep learning curve – I’ve had many loaves just turn into goopy messes due to overfermentation. I let this loaf brown a little too much, but it gave the bread good flavour! The texture is quite nice too this time round, since loaves made with high hydration percentages can have a sticky, gummy interior. Looking forward to practicing more :)”

I must congratulate Val. I have attended bread baking classes in the past, but I have never seriously attempted to bake bread. Recently, a friend attempted to teach me again. She even gave me the starter.

I have had to give priority to cooking over baking, as there has never been a need for me to bake, but I have found myself having to cook quite often.

Takeaways and home-cooking

I thought that it was common only in Singapore for people to order delivery of cooked meals, but to my surprise, it is just as common in Bangkok. The other common practice is to buy takeaway meals from street food stalls or small takeaway eateries, where the food is good and affordable. In other words, cooking at home is not so common. I had lunch with some relatives yesterday and they ordered some dishes I have never tried before. One of them was prawns with garlic and sweet basil. It was really good, so I tried to work out what the ingredients were. I asked my aunt, who is a professor, if she likes to cook, hoping that she could help me out, but she said she doesn’t cook.

My cousin took pity on me and told me when we left the restaurant that he used to cook that particular dish when he was studying in the US. It’s very simple, the “secret sauce” was just soya sauce and oyster sauce, added to the prawns, garlic and sweet basil.

We both agreed that when we were university students studying abroad, we never thought of dining at Thai restaurants. It was just beyond our budget.

My aunt ordered prawn and almond fish cakes. I have made prawn and fish cakes before, by mixing prawn paste with fish paste. I have to try adding almonds the next time.

I am looking forward to making some Thai desserts. My brother has been telling me about his favourite Thai desserts. I managed to get some brown sugar which is used in cooking and desserts. The next step is to look for recipes. One of the most common Thai desserts is foi thong made from sugar and eggs. My brother told me that it has Portuguese origins. The Portuguese brought fios de ovos to Thailand. They are egg threads, and are also known as angel hair. My brother likes a snack which is a crispy crepe with foi thong filling (Khanom buang). It will be a while before I attempt making something like that.

Trying the lesser known

My friend Brenda said that she is looking forward to trying lesser known Thai dishes when she visits Thailand with her family. I told her that I will give her a list of “must try dishes”. The desserts are also a “must try”, but one has to watch one’s sugar intake. There are some less sweet desserts, in fact there are some which are a bit salty.

We have some tubs of Thai spicy crispy prawn mixtures at home. To my surprise, some people started to eat them with mooncake! I was a bit horrified at first, but since it was such a success, it might be an idea for something new. The spicy and sweet tastes and the crunchy and smooth textures seem to balance themselves out.

That’s all for this week. Have a great week ahead.

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 11 September 2022

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