Cooking class & food market, Luang Prabang - Laos

söndag 10 december 2017

 The Lao cuisine stands out from its Asian neighbours in its use of strong and sometimes bitter flavours, herbs and sauces. Greens and fresh vegetables are an integral part of every meal, accompanied by sticky rice and jeow(a fantastic strong dipping sauce).  The cooking class took place at our hotel (Sofitel) and I really enjoyed it: the chef was a good teacher, the ingredients were fresh and I had a nice time together with two American guys that also participated in the class. Unfortunately I messed up the settings of my camera so some of the pictures are not worth showing.

Our chef had put out ingredients, spices, sauces and recipes beforehand. There were only three cooking enthusiasts this morning: two guys from San Francisco and me. We started with a quick tour to the food market, which had a lot to offer and was small enough (only one street) to walk through rather quickly. The chef tried to answer all our questions and gave us some samples to taste, such as sticky rice balls with coconut. Sticky rice is used in both savory and sweet foods but I was not hugely impressed by the taste. I made another visit to the morning food market with my husband the following day. Pictures towards the end of this post.

The menu to be prepared was the following: Naem dip - Fresh spring rolls, Mok het - Steamed mushrooms in banana leaf, Phanaeng kai - Chicken curry and Oua si khai - Stuffed lemongrass.

Mok het consisted of different mushrooms, long eggplants, eggs, chilli, lemongrass, shallots, dill, kaffir lime, fish sauce, chicken powder, sugar, rice flour and salt. All the ingredients were mixed and placed in  banana leaves. The leaves were folded and sealed with a toothpick. Then steamed for 10 minutes and served with steamed or sticky rice. Interesting was that the Laos kitchen uses a lot of dill in many dishes.

Oua si khai - the stuffed lemongrass was a new acquaintance. I had eaten it the night before in a restaurant and loved the nice ball with its dipping sauce. You can use minced chicken, pork or beef. Vermicelli, onion, dill, eggs, chilli, fish sauce were the other ingredients. And of course the lemongrass stalks that first were steamed for a minute in order to get bendable. The balls were then formed around the lemongrass and everything was steamed for about 15 minutes and then dipped in egg and deep-fried for 2-3 minutes. Served with the strong jeow sauce that I love. I got a nice recipe for the sauce from a Laoborn chef and restaurant owner whom I met during her stay at the hotel. So thank you Kimber...I'm going to make the sauce for my Asian Christmas buffet on Christmas Eve.

After our excellent cooking session we were served all the dishes we had been preparing. Everything was extremely tasty and there was plenty of food so my husband was also invited. He had spent the morning working so he really appreciated this lovely lunch with a glass of white. 

Our chef (Ka-toke I think his name was) choosing veggies for the up-coming cooking session.

Buffalo meat in front.

The meat counter was abundant ... a little bit rough maybe ... good service though.

Yes, there are bats for sale ... at the food market.

These banana blossoms/flowers/hearts are hanging at the end of banana clusters. Can be eaten raw or cooked and are common in the South-East Asian cuisine.They taste bitter when eaten raw but lose their bitterness when soaked in water. You eat "the soon to be bananas", that is the yellow florets you meet when you discard the tough reddish leaves. The leaves can be used as serving plates.

Fish in various forms and sizes. In the bottom left corner  you can see dried buffalo skin that is eaten as a snack but also used in different dishes.

Fresh seaweed and morning glory. My favourites. The Mekong river weed is made into these nice snacks. So good together with the strong chili sauce (jeow).

This coffee-stand is owned by a lovely Lao lady (who was married to a handsome American), also the owner of two guesthouses right behind her. If you are interested I have the co-ordinates. We enjoyed a refreshing glass of passionfruit juice squeezed from the fruits you see to the left. And I also bought this black ginger tea that cures every minor health problem. At least my headache disappeared.

Hokuspokus med lax, räkor & rom

torsdag 7 december 2017

Jag snodde snabbt ihop den här lilla finländska förrätten när vi firade Finlands 100 år av självständighet med familjen. Bara du har ingredienserna hemma så går det fort som attan och serverar du den i glas är den lite festligare. Du kan själv välja om du använder kallrökt eller gravad lax, naturella eller smaksatta räkor och majonnäs/smetana/crème fraîche.

Här är mitt recept för 4 personer:
2-3 dl kallrökt lax i små kuber
1 påse vitlöks- och örtmarinerade räkor 
1 burk forellrom
1-2 dl majonnäs
1 liten burk smetana
lite senap

Blanda ihop finhackad dill, fisk, räkor, majonnäs, smetana, senap och hälften av rommen. Krydda med lite svartpeppar. Salt behövs antagligen inte. Fördela i glas och toppa med rom och dillvippor. Jag serverade smörstekta skivor av skärgårdslimpa till förrätten.

Kommentar: Om du vill göra förrätten lättare så byt ut smetanan mot crème fraîche. Champagne, skumvin eller vitt vin tycker jag lämpar sig som dryck. Jag fick användning för min mors gamla blåa duk med tillhörande servetter eftersom den hade den rätta blåa färgen. Så min mor fick vara med på ett hörn, vilket var trevligt då hon faktiskt också skulle ha firat sin hundraårs dag i år. 

Vyerna är från Tammerfors: Pyynikki och Pyhäjärvi. Assistenten ville ta en promenad innan middagen.

En annan god förrätt med lax finns här 

Fylld grillad bläckfisk

tisdag 5 december 2017

Grillsäsongen pågår året runt nuförtiden, eller hur? Den här rätten har lite Medelhav över sig så man kan ju drömma sig bort till soligare breddgrader under grillningen. Fyllningen i bläckfiskarna är gjord på fiskfilé, lök, chili och lite örter. Serveras med citron och vitlöksörtolja. Paul Svensson gjorde denna rätt i ett Strömsö-avsnitt.

Ingredienser för 4 personer:
15 st bläckfisktuber (squid)
600 g fiskfilé, t.ex. gös, sik eller lax
2 st schalottenlökar, finhackade
1 röd chili, finhackad
1 vitlöksklyfta, riven
4 msk bladpersilja, finhackad
4 msk körvel, finhackad
1 citron, saften
2 msk olivolja
1 tsk salt
1 dl rapsolja
halv klyfta vitlök

1. Salta fiskfilén runt om. Gnugga över lite olivolja. Lägg den på grillen med skinnet neråt. Grilla tills fiskköttet är vitt och fast, ca 5 minuter. Grilla bara på ena sidan så den inte tappar vätska.

2. Svetta lök, vitlök och chili i lite olivolja i en kastrull ett par minuter tills de är mjuka, men utan att de tar färg. Ta av fiskköttet med en gaffel och blanda det med lökröran, persiljan och körveln i en bunke. Smaka av med olivolja och generöst med salt och peppar. 

3. Skölj bläckfiskarna, avlägsna hinnor och innanmäte, skär av tentakeldelen. Fyll bläckfisktuben med fiskfärsen. Använd gärna spritspåse. Nåla ihop med tandpetare upptill. Grilla bläckfisk och tentakler hastigt på varje sida på grillen tills de blir fasta i konsistensen men inte för länge, då blir de sega. Grillen måste vara mycket het. En och en halv minut på grillen borde räcka.

4. Vitlöksoljan: Mixa rapsolja och vitlök i en mortel eller med stavmixer. Jag satte till lite örter också.

5. Fördela bläckfiskarna på en bädd av örter, droppa vitlöksolja ovanpå, pressa över citron och vrid över lite svartpeppar. Blanda runt på fatet och servera genast.

Restaurant Le Du, Bangkok - a hidden star

söndag 3 december 2017

In the future I will write reviews about restaurants abroad in English only. I do hope nobody sees this as a problem. Le Du, which is a lovely little restaurant, is at the moment listed among The World's 50 Best Restaurants. The name of the restaurant sounds French but it derives from the Thai word for season. It serves seasonal, creative modern Thai food. Chef Ton is also a certified sommelier and one of the two owners. Unfortunately he was absent when we visited. But we had the pleasure to be served by the other owner, Tao, who is a talented sommelier. We chose the 4 course set menu where you have a choice between 3 dishes for every course. And the wine pairing was as outstanding as the food. This is what we had.

Amuse-bouche: Watermelon 3 ways
1) drink 2) green melon + dill + dried fish 3) red melon + candied smoked peanut + coriander
They were all amazing but number 3 was our favorite.

My first course was Crab, papaya salad and crispy pork skin accompanied by a glass of Austrian white wine. I was in seventh heaven...loved this crabsalad: fresh, spicy and crispy elements in a very tasty and beautiful composition.

My husband's first course was Crayfish & Cooked Oyster, jicama(tastes like a savory apple) and fresh water seaweed. It was a soft and mellow spicebomb. Much to his liking.

My second choice was Sustainable Ocean Fish, bamboo shoots, turmeric, ivy gourd (looks like a small gherkin with the taste of  melon). The fish was catfish and the yellow turmeric sauce was strong and spicy. I got the recipe for the top notch sauce and will certainly try to make it one of these days. And the Chardonnay accompanied the dish most perfectly...even though I am not much into this grape normally.

My husband fell for River Prawn, pork belly jam, shrimp paste and organic rice. He loved it and the pairing with a Portuguese Vinho Verde was utterly successful.

Charcoal-grilled Pork Jowl (cheek), pumpkin, gourd, onion. The flavors worked well together and I was happy with my choice, in particular the sauce with pumpkin was to die for.

30 Days Dry-Aged Beef Tenderloin, holy basil, barley, egg. Again nothing to complain about. At this point our stomachs told us to stop eating but the desserts were waiting around the corner...

The first one was Duck egg custard, lotus seed, shallot ice-cream. I haven't even heard of shallot ice-cream before and had my doubts but it turned out to be a real winner in this dessert.
The second one was Pandan cake, soy, thai-tea ice-cream. My husband (who seldom eats desserts) was not very impressed with this and I didn't like it much either.

Comment: Le Du is a rather small restaurant and I recommend that you make a reservation before you go because it is very popular as well among the locals as the tourists. The service was great and the staff spoke good English. I highly recommend this hidden pearl (in a small alley) if you are in Bangkok and in the mood for some fine dining.