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Lao Masterchef!

Tamnak cooking class - Luang Prabang

The day before we had done a bit of research and we found that for the price and the time you get that the Tamnak Lao Restaurant's Full day course was the better option as it included lunch and dinner. Starting at 10am we met the other 5 people in the group over a coffee/tea and then our chefs Leng Lee and Phia Yang took us to the local market to collect the items we would need for our dishes.

The journey took all but of 5 mins and we turned up in the hustle and bustle of the morning trade to be given a walking tour through the stalls whilst one of the chefs gave a running commentary about the items for sale and how they were used for things like flavouring. It was a pretty quick tour but we did get to ask a few questions and we even bought a clever little peeling device before we left.

The array of items meant there was lots of colour and different smells to ensnare your senses. Some of the items on sale were not so pleasing to the eye, such as the nose of a pig or the buffalo blood in large chunks pictured below.

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Once the mini tour was over the chefs bought all the items and we made our way back to the cooking classroom. After a short while waiting for the food to be prepared by the chef we all got a our aprons on and were given a walk through of how to prepare the dishes by the chefs. The first one we were shown was Luaang Prabang salad, which had a simple but delicious mayo mix that I definitely would use back home. Sarah, inadvertently forgot to peel the cucumber on this dish but to her defence it was only because it didn't say it in our instruction book.

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Once we were shown the ropes of the other dishes it was then our turn to follow the instruction in our book and prepare what we would later eat for our lunch. The cooking area was a bit small for two people but we managed to make it work albeit stepping on each others toes a couple of times and within 20 minutes or so all our lunch dishes were made. Again, the simplicity of these dishes meant that they would be really good to continue making back home. The other dish we prepared was Feu Khua -fried sticky noodles with chicken and vegtables.

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After tucking into our dishes we had a break and we chatted to the other people in the group and found out that two of the girls were cycling from Luang Prabang to Vientiane which we both were thinking was a daunting prospect mainly due to the hills that they would need to contend with but also we thought that we should defintiely do some sort of cycling trip in the future.

After the break we repeated the same process with the chefs demonstrating how to make the dishes but this time there were 6 to choose from so by the time they got through making all of them and us sampling them before choosing which three to make some of the preparation details slipped out of our minds and consequently a few errors occurred. We found that although the chefs were good at their job their interaction with us was very limited once we started cooking and therefore we made a few decisions ourselves which didn't quite work out, and admittedly my stereotypical male impatience meant that I ploughed through a couple of instructions before realising the mistake. Consequently my concentration went up a notch which you can see from this picture (look at those eyes!!).

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The last demonstration from the chefs was how they make sticky rice which I was keen to know about. First they soak the rice for 24 hours before placing it in a basket which is then placed on a hot pot of boiling water, covered and left to steam for 2 hours. Even without the basket I would want to try it back home, because it would be perfect for lunches.

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Here is a list of the dishes we were shown for dinner

Chicken Larp - Traditional Lao cold salad
Kheua Sen Lon- Vermicilli noodles with pork, vegtables and Woodward fungus
Khua Maak Kheua Gap Moo - Fried Eggplant with Pork
Oh Paedak - Lao Pork Casserole
Geng Phet -Chilli Casserole

We chose the fried eggplant and chilli casserole ...yum yum!

We noticed the mistake too!

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It was a fun experience and was only slightly marred by the chefs limited interaction during preparation. We have enjoyed the Lao cuisine very much since being here and have certainly been inspired to take these dishes back home. So much so that we later went and bought from the market some sticky rice pots made out of bamboo that are very common in Laos. We bought four of them so next time you visit our home (wherever that might be) you'll be sure to be introduced to this fantastic cuisine.

Stay tuned for more tales..

Dan

Posted by doyledan 19:16 Archived in Laos

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