Thai Songkran & MK Level 2

I haven’t posted much lately, but I just finished the second week of the Matthew Kenney Level 2 course and have been super busy. Level 2 focuses on more advanced culinary techniques and students are let free for their experimenting, creativity and recipe testing. For example, this week we’ve learned about the smoking gun and sous vide. The smoking gun we use at the academy is from the company Poly science and it’s made for raw cuisine, so the temperature doesn’t go above 115 degrees. You can use any type of woodchips, even homemade, and it truly gives a great smoky flavor. This week we smoked tomatoes, mushrooms and even a tamarind flavored ice cream!
The sous vide is a machine used by many chefs, even not vegan or raw. You vacuum seal the food you’re preparing and it’s purpose is to maintain a set temperature in the water, while slow cooking the food. At the academy we keep the temperature at 115 and leave in for about 3-4 hours, but you can do up to 7 hours. What you will be left with is something tender, with a cooked consistency, yet with a bite. The nutrients are maintained and colors remain intact. Our first attempt was with asparagus which came out al dente, and the mushrooms we made came out tasting meaty.

Another thing we learned this week were Amuse Bouche, literally meaning “mouth amuser”, which are little bite-sized hors d’oeuvre, given at the beginning of a meal from the chef, complimentary. We had to create two amuse bouche at the end of the week, inspired by the previous lessons of the week.
For my first amuse bouche, I marinated some Roma tomatoes and blended them into a cream, dehydrated for a couple of hours and smoked the soup 30 min before serving. I made a basil foam to accompany and served with a couple drops of balsamic vinegar and a pine nut.
For my second amuse bouche I made some cracker cups using silicon molds and dehydrated them, a pea-mint humus, and pickled carrots with preserved lemon and herbs, garnished with dill oil.

Another thing we had time to experiment with was agar agar: this is a gelling agent and is extracted by seaweed. you need to heat some water and dissolve the agar agar to create the mixture. when it cools down it becomes a jell, so it is great for plant-based cuisine and other. For example we used it for making tofu(raw) and panna cotta. The panna cotta was challenging at first but then we managed to get the right amount of agar agar in it. I made mine with one layer of vanilla coconut panna cotta and another one of strawberry. Accompanied by a mango-ginger sauce, a mint foam and spicy brazil nuts. So good..

Other than cooking, this week was the celebration of Thai New Year, Songkran, which starts on the 13th of April and goes on for a couple of days. Everyone wears clothes with flower designs and traditionally you splash people with water, so in our modern world with water guns. Water is seen as a symbol of cleansing and renewal. It was so great to see all the Thai people wearing their special clothes and their faces were emanating happiness. There was a truly celebrating and joyful vibe.
On Sunday  me and some other girls rented scooters for the day and went to Sai Noi beach, a 20 minute ride from our hotel. On our way back, we were stopped so many times on the streets by youngsters which splashed us with buckets of water and covered our faces and bodies with this yellow or white paste they use on festivities days, which is considered a symbol of protection and promises to ward off the evil. It was like being stopped by the police, there was no way we could get through without them getting to us, it was so fun! And so many pick up cars going around the town with at least 10 kids on them, splashing everyone and everything, like gangs. It was a great day and we all had so much fun.

Here are some other dishes I’ve made so far this month:

One response to “Thai Songkran & MK Level 2”

  1. It’s true you haven’t posted lately, but this wonderful article accompanied with photos gives the reader a sense of what you have been learning, both in the school and the customs of this country. Your dishes look amazing! What fun it must have been to be there during this annual celebration of their New Year.

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