For three days recently Mazatlán was blessed with a lot of laughter (normal here) and a whole lot of wonderful Thai cooking (a blessing), with fresh ingredients and a trained chef in a GORGEOUS old ocean-view home with honest-to-God incredibly wonderful women.
We have terrific food here, but, having lived for a decade in both Tokyo and San Francisco, we don’t have the international variety I would like. I CRAVE good Moroccan, Ethiopian, Indian, lamb shish-kabob, a good borscht …. Ironically, we do have a terrific local Thai restaurant, Zab Thai, where we eat every once in a while and for which we are very grateful.
Anyway, when six months ago my friend Indra told me she’d taken some Thai cooking classes in a friend’s home, I made sure she gave me all the info! I cook a lot of Asian food at home, but I was sure I’d learn something new, and I was eager to check out the classes.
The classes are taught by Lis Maiz Rochin, a Mexican woman who lived in Southeast Asia for years and runs the Mibong restaurant in the Condesa neighborhood of the DF. Her husband is Mazatleco, so fortunately for us Lis comes here regularly. Though I doubt she will visit us again in the heat of September! That’s her on the right in the photo with me.
I wasn’t able to attend all three classes, since I am a working woman, but I made two of them. Each time we prepared four dishes, and walked out of class stuffed!
So, what did I love most about these classes? FISH BALLS! They rocked! I was really shocked to realize that I love these little things, order them all the time when traveling, but I’ve never made them at home. And they are so easy! And the dipping sauce we made was exquisite.
I was so so so so very psyched to see fresh (it may have been packaged, I’m not sure, but whole, real not canned) BAMBOO SHOOTS. Oh how I loved these in Japan, eating them as if they were candy! I soooooo miss them. And Lis brought some, and used them with abandon in the foods we prepared. Gotta love it!
Bamboo grows in Mazatlán, and I hadn’t realized how much I missed this until we used it, but if you know where in town I can buy fresh bamboo shoots, please let me know.
Giant fresh GINGER ROOT! Now ginger root I can buy here, and I often do. But these were soooo much fresher than what I normally find here in town, and they were gigantic! I brought some of the class leftovers home, sliced it up, and put it in the freezer so I’d always have some on hand.
I also was sooooo excited to see a bag of sticky rice for the first time in forever! I was lucky to be able to bring home the remainder of this bag, at left, and I plan to do my best to get some shipped from Coyoacán to us here in Mazatlán.
And what did we make with this mochi-gome? Mango sticky rice, of course! Mmmmmhhh!!! Calorie-, sugar-, and fat-free of course (lol).
So, okay Dianne, you loved your nostalgic trip through some of the foods you miss from Japan, finally available in Mazatlán. Anything else?
Yes, Lis had the most beautiful, and practical, Thai wooden mortar and pestle, which she used for making salad dressing. Take a look; that’s the wooden bowl and pestle there at the rear of the photo.
The thing I most loved about this class, though, was that the women attending it were truly awesome. I crave girlfriends who have international interests and passions, who are creative and fun, and boy did I find it with this crew!
Left to right we are Magda, me, Chika (I am sooooo excited to meet a Japanese woman who lives here in Mazatlán!!! FINALLY!!!! Hooray!!!), Erika, Lis our teacher, Manina our hostess, and my friends Nancy and Conchita.
What did I learn in this class? Well, embarrassingly enough, I learned that when we cut lemongrass, we should only cut the center, white, heart of the stalk. I always wondered why the stalks were so hard to cut! Oops! I know that lemon grass (té de limón) also grows here in town, so if you know a source, would you please let me know? I’d love to grow some on my balcony beside my beloved basil plant.
While I’ve eaten a lot of Southeast Asian desserts in my day, I never realized the terrific combo of pairing light/sweet/slimy lychee or rambutan with crispy/strong/bitter fried shallot. Definitely an inspired pairing!
There were of course many things I learned, such as to always remove the green “sprout” in the center of a clove of garlic, if you find one, as it’s bitter. One last learning that really stands out for me, though, is the cool cutter Lis had. I WANT ONE! Mis primas-hermanas or beloved sister-cousins: when I visit Indiana to see you in October please let’s find and buy a few of these. I promised the ladies here I’d try. Why is it so cool? Well…..
Look what it does! You can julienne mango or carrots or whatever, in the same quick and easy way you peel them! Gotta get me one of these gizmos.
Thanks for reading my post! I welcome your comments and especially your local ingredient and supply sources. You all, of course, know about Toyo Foods, up the right-side-fork of the street above Club Navy, next to the pescadería. They are a godsend.