Last Friday night saw us enjoying an evening of cooking with our friends at our Cookbook Supperclub. For this cookbook supperclub the book up for discussion this week was Rosa’s Thai Cafe: The Cookbook. Rosa was born in Northern Thailand, where at the age of 14 she set up a noodle stall to pay for her studies. After graduation she moved to Hong Kong where she worked in a restaurant before opening her own Tuk Tuk Thai restaurant. Moving to London in 2006, she started her own catering company before opening Rosa’s Thai Cafe in London’s East End. Rosa now has a number of restaurants across the city.
In light of the fact we love Thai food, there was with much excitement for this cookbook supperclub! The cookbook started making it’s rounds between us and the common thread through all our deliberations was what cook as there are so many mouthwatering recipes, all beautifully photographed. As a matter of fact , I had already made the Thai Beef Salad from the book and enjoyed it very much, therefore I knew we were onto a winner.
Our first course for the cookbook supperclub was cooked by Kate, who chose Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Soup with Chicken). Kate travelled in the Far East when she was younger, she arrived in Thailand and before having any opportunity to explore she became ill. This is the meal that she loved to eat as she began to recover and its been a favourite with Kate ever since. Funnily enough it’s the exact same soup I remember from my own time working overseas, I must have eaten this soup at least twice of week, it’s so good. The recipe is simple and very quick to cook, packed full of Thai flavour and so fresh that we all ate two bowls. This is Thai style comfort in soup form!
Next up was Michelle who chose two meat starters with dipping sauces for each, Moo Bing (Grilled Pork Skewers in Thai Marinade) and Sier Lorng Hai (Tiger’s Tears). It would be fair to say that this course was the best of the night, and we’d all be pushed to decided which of the two we liked best: the super tender beef, or the sweet pork skewers. My daughter Anna came through all wide eyed looking to try some and of course we shared. My husband then appeared looking for any leftovers and made equally appreciative noises as he ate! Sheer perfection as a course!
Paula and I were up next to cook our main courses. I made Gai Pad Met Ma Muang (Stir-fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts) as this is a Chinese dish I cook a lot and I wanted to see how it tasted with a Thai twist. The cookbook does state that its Chinese in origin and adapted with Thai spices saying it’s a hybrid sort of dish. To be honest we all felt this was definitely a Chinese dish and there wasn’t much Thai flavour to it. A nice enough dish and a good recipe, however not the best dish to match what we’d already eaten.
I also made Som Tam (Papaya Salad) for a side dish as I love Thai salads. The recipe asks for green papaya which is very expensive to buy online so instead I substituted normal papaya which I can buy in the supermarket. The recipe asked for 10 red bird’s eye chillies to be added. Now I know this is too much, however the whole point is that we prepare the dishes as the recipe states so that we can test the recipe for accuracy. I followed the recipe but we simply could not eat it, it was far too spicy and ordinarily I’m the chilli fiend! I’ve spoken to a Thai cook since, and asked her if this was too much and she said yes without a doubt it was too much. I think the book has a misprint and I should have added 1 chilli and not the 10 the book asked for. Misprints after all cannot be helped and I’m certainly not going to criticise an otherwise fantastic book for this. In any event, on this occasion I wish I’d bent the Cookbook Supperclub rules as had I done so I believe it would have been a lovely salad. Not put off however, I’m going to remake it, with adapted chilli!
Last but by no means least was my friend Paula’s dish, she chose to cook Pad Prig Daeng (Spicy Stir-fried Red Curry with Chicken). This superb stir-fry version was a lot lighter than a normal red curry, and once the paste had been prepared was very quick to cook and serve. We all loved this main course and agreed it was something we would cook again. However, the best thing about this dish was that it was cooked by my friend Paula, who is not a confident cook, but who approached our Supperclub with wholehearted enthusiasm. I wish she’d taken a photo of her kitchen when she was preparing the curry paste the night before, it was a bomb site by all accounts, a tidy cook she is not! However Paula’s lack of experience means that she has to follow a recipe to the letter, it’s perhaps easier for her to do that than the rest of us, who start to second guess and want to add things! Paula followed the recipe and cooked us a wonderful dish. What’s more she had leftover paste which she’s frozen for making the dish again later. Paula has never cooked Thai food from scratch before and I think that alone is testament to how good a book this is!
So to our comments on the book, in a word, quite simply buy it! Add this one to your collection if you love Thai food but are a little nervous about cooking it. Everything is clearly explained, and therefore suitable for all levels of expertise and with the exception of the chilli misprint, we ate lovely food packed full of fresh Thai flavour. You may struggle to get some of the ingredients in your local supermarket however we use Thai Food Online who have an extensive range of Thai ingredients that can be delivered direct to your door.
Finally, a special word of thanks to Wild Thyme Spirits for kindly providing us with a bottle of their newly launched Colonsay Gin which we enjoyed as our welcome drink on the evening. A lovely gin with a citrus twist which we decided to serve simply with some Fevertree tonic and an orange twist.4