Thai Curries Cooking Class and a Tattoo

It is Thursday.  #throwbackthursday.  My friend’s friend is a chef.  She specializes more specifically but not limited to Thai and Japanese cuisine.  I love Thai food.  Especially any with curries.  I have no idea how to make Thai food really or what goes into making curries.  I just know I like it.  The spicer, the better.  Because I geek out on the way things are made and have a curious mind way to annoying for even my own liking sometimes, my friend arranges a private cooking class.  After all is arranged I forget that I also have a date with a very busy third generation tattoo artist the same day.  Don’t know how that happened. Me forgetting.  Neither of these ladies can reschedule the day.  Neither can I for that matter.  We all rearrange times to make the tattoo and cooking class happen.   Phhhewww.  Thankfully.

Its raining.  Halloween weekend.  I hate Halloween.  The tattoo consultation takes a little longer than expected.  Its fine.  A tattoo is permanent and all and I have other work from this artist; I know her process.  She will not put a tattoo on you that isn’t you or doesn’t go with the particular body part requested.  It has to flow and this and that.  She always has an Ah-ha moment before the permanent art begins.  So much so that the energy in the room shifts every single time.  I leave late. The cooking class is in Pasadena.  I am in Hollywood.  No, Altadena.  One of those. On the border between the two. This day I can’t remember.  Between construction, rain and Halloween festivities, I am for sure now late.  The curries are made before I arrive.  And what I think will be more of an intimate formal interview turns out to be a full on cooking class with neighborhood block party attendees from the night before seated at the table.  I am usually all about “the more the merrier.”  I am in no mood this day.  I hate Halloween.  I mentioned this already I know.  The photos do not come out exactly how I like them at the time either as I am taking them.  At the time I am still learning to work my camera.  I am always still learning my camera.  My arm throbs from the tattoo.  Some lady sitting next to me at dinner has too much wine and thinks I am being rude to her boyfriend?  She didn’t like my answer to one of his questions.  Dude was cute and and adult so as to speak up should he think so.  I wasn’t being rude or mean.  I wasn’t drinking alcohol either. An extra clarification.  I have my car.  The Volvo.  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I get to thinking about this class and the Chef and the photos and the food.  She, the Chef Kanlaya, is so passionate, organized and works really hard at her craft. She takes the time to prepare and create a beautiful class.  She shows me her backyard garden.  Her gardening skill extraordinary.  A parting gift, lemongrass stalk, lives in an old milk jar until I can get it home.  I’d like to root it.  Sadly, this little stalk will probably die under my watch.  This is the case with most of my plants.  And the food. The menu not limited to the curry here.  We feast on soups and salads and rice and sauces and more curries. The dishes that we prepare in class, well I take pictures while everyone else prepares, is absolutely hands down some of the best best best Thai cuisine I have ever eaten.  So, after a couple of years ago after getting another tattoo, finding myself getting lost  and as a result becoming late to a what what supposed to be a formal cooking class by a chef creating beautiful curries in an extended kitchen dining room with guests to arrive for the cooking lesson from a Halloween block party the night before I sit here listening to some audio from the class (which I may add to this post later), remembering and write this post.  My Throwback Thursday post.

The Chef

Meet Chef Kanlaya Ngamkum.  She is a chef and restaurant owner.  She specializes in a wide variety of cuisine.  Italian, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine to be exact. She grew up helping her family sort through produce for the family business. She has been a chef for fifteen years starting out after graduating from Tsuji Cooking College in Tokyo in 2000.  She opened her own restaurant in Bangkok in 2005 featuring lots of international cuisine.  She has since participated in a chef exchange program that has took her to Czech Republic and Austria in 2016.  She has also attended Bangkok Culinary Institute and Yokohama International Education Academy.  Fun fact about Chef Kanlaya, she is a Thai fruit carving expert.  While she currently lives in Japan, she does frequent Los Angeles teaching cooking seminars.  Getting her to Los Angeles could be tough though.  She is very busy these days as most of her time is spent cooking in Japan and working with food products and traveling around the world with a company teaching cooking and promoting farmers’ products for

The recipe I give you is green curry.  I’ll save the other recipes photographed and included in this post for another day.  That Tom Yum Gai (Hot and Sour Soup) is like no other.  I’d also like to try to make the recipes myself and take better photos.  As for the green curry paste, all ingredients added to a blender and then blended.  We make dishes for meat eaters, with chicken, and vegetarians using tofu.  You can do the same.  Please enjoy an overview of our class.  All specific questions regarding the dishes can come to me and I will pass along to the chef.


shrimp paste
for the veggie curries dish
seeds for toasting

prepping for the shrimp salad

green papaya

fun in class

temperature check
coconut milk added

chicken version

before the stalk goes to the jar
me interviewing a bit and talking about overall cooking and such..

The recipe:

Green Curry Paste

1 Tablespoon of sliced cilantro root

1 Tablespoon corriander

1/2 Tablespoon cumin

1 1/2 Tablespoon galangal

1/4 cup garlic

1 Kaffir lime skin

3-4 Tablespoons sliced lemomgrass

black peppers (not specified)

1 Tablespoon salt (kosher?)

1/2 cups sliced shallots or red onion

1 Tablespoon shrimp paste

3 Yellow chillis

10-15 Green Thai Chilli Peppers

There is some toasting and ultimately blending and thats it..

The Garden:

this one stalk is for me

The dinner after class..

setting up the table..

…in Thai culture one should not photograph the utensils in the food.  This is considered bad omen.  The table has to be set a certain way..

the buffet of food

Until Next Time…

Here are some photos from the tattoo visit..

She has a policy to follow-up after 30 days to see how the skin heals.   Joanna can be found at Hollywood Tattoo in Hollywood by appointment only.  Her number is on the wall.  I heard she went to San Fran tho..

the start..
tattoo parlour walls
first outline complete.. i had to go to the interview..
this was for sure a throwback Thursday.. I had blonde hairs..
that tattoo tho..this is the second round.. takes three.. this is the finish of the first as I had to leave.. then.. more to come..(which I currently have and not pictured here)..