Culinary Immersion: Recreating Regional Cuisine | Andy Ricker | Skillshare

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Culinary Immersion: Recreating Regional Cuisine

teacher avatar Andy Ricker, Chef and Owner, Pok Pok

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Assignment


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Historical Cultural Context


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Cooking Techniques


    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.

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About This Class

Learn Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker’s process for faithfully recreating Northern Thai cuisine, and then apply his insight to a favorite cuisine of your own. In this 45-minute class, Andy goes over the importance of the historical and cultural context of dishes, finding native ingredients, utilizing endemic tools and techniques, and even considering the proper means of consumptionAs Andy says, this is less of a cooking class and more of an exercise to look deeper into the food that we eat.

Meet Your Teacher

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Andy Ricker

Chef and Owner, Pok Pok


Andy Ricker spent his formative years, as many budding chefs do, as a teenage dishwasher, in his case at a small Vermont restaurant. Unlike many chefs, Ricker also spent years backpacking across the globe, working at a number of restaurants in New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and Europe, including Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons. Those international horizons, combined with a pivotal introduction to Thai cuisine by an old friend who moved to the country's northern region, inspired Ricker to bring himself and his favorite flavors, back to the states.

Now an established stateside champion of Thai cuisine, Ricker still considers himself a student of his passions. He travels throughout Asia at least a month out of every year, tasting and trying and taking notes for his own nascent culin... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: I'm Andy Ricker. I'm the chef and owner of Pok Pok Restaurant Group and we're here in Portland, Oregon at our noodle shop called Sen Yai Noodles. Pok Pok Restaurant Group has four restaurants in Portland. Sen Yai, Pok Pok, Whiskey Soda Lounge and Pok Pok Noi. We also have three locations in New York, Pok Pok NY, Whiskey Soda Lounge NY and Pok Pok Phat Thai. I didn't immediately think, "Oh, well, Thai food is going to be my life, and I'm eventually going to open a Thai restaurant." That came after a long time. Everything that I've done, whether it's been in the food world, whether when I was a house painter, when I was remodelling house, I've learned by watching other people do. I've also learned by doing myself, making mistakes and figuring out from those mistakes my own process to get somewhere. What I'm hoping to accomplish with this class is give you some sort of framework to the process that I go through in order to come up with a dish that stays in the menu of Pok Pok. I call this less of a cooking class and more of an exhortation for people to look more deeply into food that they're eating. Don't just take for granted what comes on the plate and the context in which you receive it. Try to learn more about the food that you're eating, not only the ingredients but its history, the methods that are used to cook it, how it's eaten, all these different things. There's a story behind almost everything, and it gives a much better understanding and you find yourself enjoying food more the more you know about it. When I first started to cook, I was quite young. I was around 15 or 16. I lived in a ski resort area in Vermont, and my first job was as a dishwasher. That was my introduction to cooking and, eventually, I ended up working at one place which was the Northern Italian Place. That was where I kind of came in on my own as a cook. I started out just like thrashing around, but something happened at some point. I don't know what happened. I suddenly started to see the shapes, like in The Matrix. Suddenly, I could start to see everything and it all started working for me. I became a really good line cook, and I discovered that I had a particular skill for being a cook and that has served me well the rest of my life. The travel bug was really hitting me hard. That's when I decided to take off, and I went to Thailand for a month. So, that was a really faithful trip. That was the trip that I went and kind of started the discovery process that I've been on since then. For whatever reason, that particular time, it was exactly the right time for me to be there and it really sparked off this, some might call an obsession. It took me a good solid 13 years after that to actually open the restaurant. The point of this class, I think, is to get to know something intimately. Get to know a particular dish, find a dish or identify a dish you might have had at an ethnic restaurant you're really interested In. Try to do some research on the dish, try to find out where it comes from and then try to get to the essence of what that dish is, the core of what that dish is, historically, culturally. Try to make that dish yourself without resorting to fancifying it in some sort of way. I think the goal with whenever we introduce a new dish is the same goal that I've had since the very beginning which is to faithfully reproduce something that I've learned somewhere else, and do it in a way that helps to bring attention to that cuisine, to try to faithfully represent it in a way that the Westerners can understand but remains true to the place that I learned it from. 2. Project Assignment: So, a good way to maybe replicate the process that I go through. I think a good way to do that might be to go out and find a dish or identify a dish that you might have had at an ethnic restaurant that you're really interested in, whether it's Mexican, Afghani, Italian, Mediterranean, Jamaican, whatever it is. There's something that you're interested in. Try to do some research on the dish. Try to find out where it comes from. Look up a bunch of different recipes on the Internet and see if there's a common thread between them. Go out and taste it in several different places. Find out what you like about all those things and then try to get to the essence of what that dish is, core of what that dish is, historically, culturally. Maybe interview people who make it. Ask them why they make it the way they do. See if they've changed it at all for local taste. See if they have memories of old ways of making it that they don't make it anymore. Try to make that dish yourself, without resorting to fancifying in some sort of way. If you find that you really like fried plantains, don't fancy it up by stuffing the plantains with foie gras because that's not what we're trying to do here. We're trying to get to kind of a quintessential historical version of a dish that exists in a particular time and place. Doesn't have to be right now. It could be that this dish was made a certain way 15 years ago, and some people still make it that way. It could be that the dish was invented two years ago and it's actually in a very still, very pure state, because maybe only one or two people make it that way. The point of it is to not put your own spin on it in this case. Here's the reason why. If you spend a bunch of time learning as much as you can about a particular dish, and you make it several times and try to get to this sort of an egotistical way of making a dish, once you've made it a bunch of times, and you start to understand what that dish is, then you have license at that point to make it your own, if that makes sense. It's that old chestnut. Know the rules before you break the rules. For me, there's a lot of cooking that goes on these days where people are breaking rules that they don't even know exist. For your own project, it would be important to also research how this food is eaten. If it's Ethiopian food, eaten with the injera and picked up and put in your mouth. If you make a doro wat and then you forget to add the injera, or you just eat it with a fork, you're taking away from the experience of this dish. If you eat a taco with a knife and a fork, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There's something about the whole process of picking up a taco, putting everything into it, feeding yourself with it. It's a different process than if you were to take it, cut it up with a fork and a knife and try to eat it like that. If you're doing some sort of ethnic dish, it's a good idea to go ahead and research how it's eaten, what other dishes are eaten with it because that's important too, in what context and what tools and what methods and what ways are these foods eaten, as well as how they're cooked, how they taste, how they smell, and their historical importance. One of the points I'm trying to make with this lesson is the tools, the methods, and the approach you make to the dish are as important as the ingredients you put into them. 3. Background: My first big trip outside of the United States started in Los Angeles, where I'd moved from Vail, Colorado. I was in LA, I was cooking at some corporate restaurants, kind of hating it, and the travel bug was really hitting me hard. That's when I decided to take off and go out. I thought I was leaving for three months, I ended up being gone for close to four years. I went to Fiji, and then I went to New Zealand, and then I went to Australia, and then I went back to New Zealand, I lived in New Zealand for almost two years and then went to Australia and I lived there for almost seven months. I was rock-climbing and working in restaurants, doing all kinds of stuff, and then the bug hit to travel more and that is the first time that I went to Asia. I don't wake up in the morning with an idea for a new dish and go to the kitchen and create this new dish and put it on the menu. I go to Thailand, I find something I'm interested in and I will eat it, study it, attempt to cook it multiple times while I'm there, and eventually it'll make it onto the menu here if I think it'll work here. Some good friends of mine there, who I'd grown up with Chris Wood and his wife Lakena who I'd met in Chiang Mai, were living there and they introduced me to the local regional, seasonal cuisine of Chiang Mai and that's what clicked it for me. It took me a good solid 13 years after that to actually open the restaurant, and a lot of things happened. I travelled every year there, I studied it, I tried to learn as much as I could, I tried to learn the language, and by the time I was ready to open the first iteration of Pok Pok here in Portland, I was still very very nervous about it and I chose to do in a very, very simple way, opened a shack that had eight dishes on the menu, mostly about roasted chicken and papaya salad. We were offering food in a very, very simple manner and offering dishes that were ubiquitous in Thailand but weren't well-represented here and I think that's how we've built the brand, it's by doing that. It's not that nobody does Gohyang sometime in America or hadn't done it before. It's just that we were delivering it in a really specific way. I looked at the way it was being done in Thailand, I replicated that here. It didn't go well, we could do this, we could add this to it to make it more sexy. I made a version that I thought was the best version that I could make. But if you were to eat that same papaya salad in Thailand, it will be instantly recognizable to a Thai person as papaya salad, not some western kind of fusion version of it. Virtually everything that I know how to do, I've learned by doing, whether it's cooking, whether it's painting a house, working on a car, working on a computer, everything I've learned, I've learned by doing, that's my chosen journey. I didn't go to college, I left high school as soon as I possibly could. I have never taken classes at a community college, I've never done anything like that. I've always learned by doing, by watching, and then by doing, and then asking people to explain to me, show me things. To me, that's the most direct way of learning how to do something. 4. Historical Cultural Context: So, for me there's contexts, as well as flavor, and the context in which a certain dish is eaten is important. The way that it's eaten is very important. The reason that it's eaten is very important. One of the contexts that I tried to adhere to is, does the food on the menu makes sense for the building you're in, for the other things on the menu, for the way that you're eating at the restaurant? For instance, at pop-up down the street, we serve a class of food called a hangup cow, which means food eaten with rice. So, that's the primary kind of group of foods that you find in Thailand. So, we don't serve Pad Thai either, because it doesn't make any sense. You wouldn't go to a restaurant in Thailand that serves lob and expect to get pad thai because if you find a restaurant like that you're probably in a tourist area, and there just thrown the book out it, just trying to get as many people to come in and eat as they possibly can. But if you want the best lob, you go to the restaurant that serves lob, if you want the best Pad Thai, you go to the shop that serves Pad Thai that's how it works. So, when people come into pockmarked and go, "How can you not have Pad Thai on the menu?" It's because it doesn't make any sense. So, there's that context. There's also the cultural context, which is that certain foods are eaten by certain parts of the culture. So, down in Bangkok, there are many people who live in Bangkok, who've never been to Chiang Mai, who've never had lob before. They have no idea, they just haven't tasted it before. So, it's important to remember that Thailand isn't a monoculture, that it's a multicultural place just like United States is, or just like Spain, or just like Italy is and to force things together that don't work well together, it takes away from the experience. Now, having said that, Pok Pok is not a Northern Thai restaurant. We get pegged as that all the time and people say, "Oh, they have the most delicious Northern Thai chicken wings," and it's just crazy they're Vietnamese chicken wings right? We serve food from all over the country there. In order for me to explain the characteristics of Northern Thai food, I need to put it in a framework. So the best framework to put it in is how the regions in Thailand work. So, you've got four distinct regions in Thailand and then several subregions. There's the south which is the peninsular Thailand that borders with Malaysia on the south, and Burma on the west. That is quite a hot tropical climate. That's where most of the coconut plantations are. It's also where the majority of the very hot food comes from, very chilly hot food comes from down there. The staple is a jasmine rice. The people to the far south are often typically, ethnically Malay. Next, you have central Thailand and this is the area that when we talk about Thai food in the West, this is what we think of typically as Thai food. It's the cultural, it's the center of government, the center of power where most of the wealth lies. So, you have the royal cuisine figures heavily there. A lot of the richer curries that we think of as Thai food, a lot of the Chinese influence food that we think of as Thai food comes from the center of Thailand. Then, you have Isan or the north-east of Thailand, and this is the part of the country that is north and east of central Thailand. It is bordered by Laos and Cambodia, and the people there are ethnically Lao primarily, and there's also some Khmer people that live near the Cambodian border. There's also a fair few Vietnamese folks that have come over the years. Some iconic dishes from there are Gohyang grilled chicken, and some Palmer Thompson as they call it there, green papaya solid, typically made there with fermented crab and a fermented fish sauce, very spicy, very fishy, very salty. Then you have the north of Thailand, and this is the area that I'm most fascinated with. Northern Thailand is a mountainous jungly region, the people there are the Kam Mueang, the northern Thai people their language is different from central Thai language, is different from eastern language, is very different from southern Thai. They actually have a completely different language. In Northern Thailand, lob is very much a local dish. It's something that every town, every village, every province has. About a year ago, I decided to travel to Pratt to try to eat all the different versions of lob that they have there. We found one particular restaurant that we thought was excellent, after eating like three or four different places this one place called Jin Sou which means fresh meal. I was taken with this particular version of lob, first and foremost, because it tasted really good. There was just this wonderful flavor. It was very bright, very sharp not acidic but like the flavors were in really sharp focus. It was obvious that the guy who was making this was a very talented cook. One of the first things I do when when researching a dish, is to try to understand the cultural and historical context of it. So, I will go and taste a dish and get to know the flavors, maybe try in a few different places and try to talk to the people who are making, and try to get their understanding of what the dish is. Actually, it rarely gives me definitive answers. It just gives their take on it, it gives their experience as a vendor or as a cook and their experience, their relationship with their parents or grandparents, or a mentor, or a place that they worked before. But it's important to piece it together. Typically, after you've interviewed a few people about it, you'll start to see there are some common threads. There's going to be some conflicting opinions, but there are some common threads. So, find something that interests you, something that's special, something that is unique. Try to talk to the people who make it, try to get them to tell you what their process is. Don't ask him for the recipe that's probably a place that you don't want to go right away. Just talk to them about the dish, get them interested in the fact that you're interested because that goes a long way. If you genuinely show interest without going straight for the kill and saying, "What do you put in it?" Talk to them, find out how they learned to make it, what they think is special about it, why it tastes the way it does, compliment them, go back again, learn more, keep on going back until you gain a conversation and trust with them and then hopefully if you develop a good relationship with them, you might be able to get them to help you say, "Hey, I want to try to make this at home, do you have any advice for me?" It may or may not be helpful but it's a good thing to do. Research the dish online. It's 2014, there's a lot of resources online you can learn a lot by going online and really mining down, use different spellings of the same dish, look beyond Wikipedia. Try looking in the language that the dish is native to. Do a search in that language, Google Translate works really well for this thing. Try to see different images of it online. Look up a book that might have a recipe for, look at that recipe, see if it makes sense to you. If you see a recipe for a dish that originates in Afghanistan, and it calls for ketchup and bell peppers is probably not going to be a very historically accurate recipe. Look for things, look for recipes that seem like you're not going to be able to make them, because they're going to have ingredients that aren't typical for us. You're going to have to search for the ingredients, you're going to have to go to especially supermarket. You're going to have to search around for awhile to try to find the right ingredients to make this. If you can just go to Safeway and by everything you need to make this dish, chances are you're not getting to the essence of what the dish originally was 5. Ingredients: The importance of finding good ingredients to make a dish can't be overstated. It's really important to find quality ingredients that are appropriate for the dish. Having said that, sometimes it's difficult to find these ingredients when you're trying to make a dish that is of the dominant culture of the society you live in. You're going to have to search more deeply. That's not to say that you can't make substitutions, or that you can't use a version of the ingredient that might not be the most ideal thing. So, for instance, if a dish calls for fresh green peppercorns and you just can't find fresh green peppercorns, you can go ahead and use canned or jarred pickled green peppercorns. But just understand that there's going to be something missing from it because when you take a green peppercorn and you brine it, you're losing an essence of it. You're losing this bright freshness. You might be losing some of the heat and aroma, a lot of the aroma, but it'll work in some way. So, don't just decide, well I can't make this because the bamboo shoots that I want, it calls for fresh bamboo shoots that I then have to steam myself and do all the stuff too. You can go to the supermarket or you can go to the Asian market and you can find bamboo shoots that are appropriate that'll work because that's typically what they do in Thailand or China too. They go to the market and they buy bamboo shoots. They're not steaming their own bamboo shoots. So, don't let yourself be locked out from doing a recipe because you can't find precisely the right thing in its native form. However, if you find a recipe that calls for something that just doesn't exist here, then you should probably just try to find something else to make because it's going to be a very frustrating process and you're going to end up with something that doesn't taste right or doesn't taste good potentially. Once I'd tasted this version of larb and ped so I'd also spoken to the owner, tried to get his take on what made it special? I had analyzed what I'd eaten. I had to figure out how can I recreate this dish back in New York, which is where we're cooking it right now. The first thing I realized was I'm not going to be able to make this unless I bring the my lap back with me from time, so that's what I did. So in this case, the only way I could really make this taste correct was if I brought this key ingredient back with me, which isn't a big deal. I threw in the suitcase it brought back and I had all the other ingredients available. Now, the first process I go through was trying to make the spice paste that I had tasted. I'd actually got to the guy to give me a taste of the pre-clob that he uses to make the lobbe. So, that's something you can do too. You can actually asked to taste a vital ingredient in there just to see what that tastes like, give you an idea of what you have to make in order to make the final dish. So, I was able to go back to New York and go, okay, well, to me I could taste all the things that we have in our Chiang Mai style a la pace that could taste there were some fresh shallots in there, that there ware some fresh garlic in there, there was some lemon grass, there were some galangal, the chilies were there a particular type of chili. There was no smoky flavor to it so I knew that he used basically and toasted dry red chili pounded that into it, McLin figures heavily in it and we can get McQuinn in New York. So, really the key to me was was incorporated into my lap and how much of that to put in it whether you toasted or not, and I determined that they probably didn't toast them a lap or if they did they toasted it very lightly along with the McQuinn. So, we tried that and it works. We ended up getting the flavor that we wanted also understanding there is no blending there. So, we had to adjust the seasoning because we're adding less liquid to the end product just of the seasoning slightly. Played with the herbs that we put on it until we came up with a flavor that I could identify as yes this taste similar to the lobbe that I had in praq and more specifically similar to lobbe I had at Chinso in Praq. Probably in order to make the dish you're thinking about you're going to have to do some serious hunting and you might not find what you're looking for right away if you go to your Safeway and you find it that great. It's unlikely though you're probably going to have to go to several markets track down. You might buy stuff I think is going to work and it doesn't. You're going to go back and try a different brand or a different version of it and believe me there's a lot of different versions and brands and forms that you can get of any given ingredient. Don't give up, keep looking. Keep trying until you find something that works. You might go online. There are some online resources for buying ingredients and products. There are people maybe you know somebody who lives in New York and they can go to colistin spice and buy you spice. You can't get anywhere else. Or maybe they have a mail order version of it. Take the chance. This is going to take a while. You going to have to figure this out unless you get real lucky. This is the other thing to remember when you're trying to recreate something you're never going to get exactly what you tasted. That's not really possible. There's too many nuances there's too many variables. What you can get is something that is recognizable as that dish similar to that version. Taste is very very tricky and very elusive and it is basically, palette memory. It's a very difficult thing to eat a dish and then a month or two months later. Make a dish and say Well it tastes just like what I had there because you don't have that palette memory built up yet you've only had it a few times. So you have a memory and if you were to go back and taste it again you will go, "Yes that what I remember." But, that's once again you're in context when you do that you're no longer out of context. So out of context in another country, in another kitchen with a different source for meat, a different source for vegetables, maybe even a different type of oil that you're cooking in her different pan. The results can be slightly different different cooking fuel maybe they are going to charcoal their cooking on gas here. You're not going to end up having to be able to say, "That tastes exactly like the stuff I had in Praq," because you don't have side by side reference to actually do that. Memory is a tricky thing, taste is a very very tricky and elusive thing. Most of the kitchen managers not all the kitchen managers and all the restaurants have either been to Thailand or have spent a lot of time with me talking about the stuff tasting things most of them been to Thailand. They have had this flavor so they understand when we get way out of out of the range and they can pull things back to the center. Then I come through the restaurants and taste everything too. So, that's how we keep things relatively focused as being really really careful about following recipes and not free styling. Tasting food all the time to make sure that it's correct, having people around who have been to Thailand who have tasted these dishes in their in their native form and then my contribution of tasting as well. Then we constantly re-educate people we re-introduce dishes, we have people taste them. We talk about them, we educate them. We encourage them to read. Luckily there's a cookbook that I wrote that describes almost all the dishes that we have at the restaurants. So, they're able to actually read through the recipe. Read the head notes about the recipe to refresh your memory as well. People can definitely improve their palette. The way you do it is to taste dishes over and over and over again. Maybe not that one particular dish, taste different versions. Train your palette to start to recognize the different things that are in a dish. The good thing for me about Thai food is that the way that that food is cooked. Unlike the West is not this goal of layering like flavors on top of each other to achieve one flavor. There is a process of putting disparate flavors together to create a mouth sensation and a flavor that is all over the place. You get, you can taste the different elements in Asian foods, Southeast Asian food because they're bright they're hot. They they are in contrast with each other rather than in concert with each other all the time. So I've been able to train my palette to taste Oh I can taste McLin. There's a lot or there's a little or I can taste this little teeny bit of cumin seed in there it's there it's faint but it's there. So the way that I've done that is just to taste over and over and over again to taste. Here's a really important thing taste the individual elements by themselves. Out of context with a dish, pick up a come and see taste it raw taste it after you toast it see what the differences smell it, aroma has a huge role in cooking. If you can taste what galangal taste like raw you can understand what it might do to a dish by adding too little or too much. It can take over it could add to much of that flavor and wipe out other flavors that are more subtle. You've got to understand what your various different elements are in order to understand how to combine them to make something pleasing and interesting and something that makes sense contextually, that makes sense historically, that makes sense culturally. 6. Cooking Techniques: So, one of the points I'm trying to make with this lesson is the tools, the methods, and the approach you make to the dish are as important as the ingredients you put into them. To make the la praire, the particular texture of the meat, the guy there said that he tried grinding it with a meat grinder because he sells a lot of it and it would be economical for him labor wise to grind it. But, what he found was that it was grinding the meat too finely, meaning it was kind of smashing it, so you had to hand chop it. So, what they use at this place, Xin Sot, they use something called meed laab which means knife made specifically for chopping laab. These are quite large, sort of, saber shaped heavyweight blades that you can sit and hack the meat chop, chop, chop, chop, by hand until it reaches the consistency that you like. What you get by doing that is a texture that is unlike grinding. When you grind meat, you're kind of smashing it through a die and there's a blade that kinda cuts it, and when you chop it with a knife, you're chopping cleanly through the flesh, and so you're not making the regular mashed shape. You're making random shapes that end up being cut through with a knife, so they're more sharp, for lack of better word. If you were to look at it through a microscope, the stuff that you chop with meat would be a more random sharp edge thing than stuff you put through a grinder. We luckily have these knives that we use, but you could use a cleaver or a heavy butcher's knife of some sort to chop the stuff. You hand chop it. That was one process that we needed to figure out, is how to chop this meat so that it came out to the right consistency so that the laab would be a slightly coarse chop. So, doing it by hand is the best way to control that. You can control where you start and stop, you can taste it, you can fry a bit, see what it looks like. The reason for wanting to get this is because texture plays a great deal of an important role in how a dish ultimately tastes. Something that's chopped in very large chunks has a different mouthfeel, stays in your mouth for a certain amount of time, and absorbs spice differently than something that is minced very, very small. So, we use those knives to get there. Another thing was that the texture of the fried garlic that he put on top was very, kind of, frilly and the way he achieved that was by pounding the garlic in a mortar and pestle and not chopping it and then deep frying it. So, some of the skin stayed on and it was more light texture and that plays into the flavor too and the aroma when you blanket on top. So, figuring those two things out were really important. Another important part was figuring out how did he cook it? There's different ways to cook laab. You can cook it quickly over a higher heat called coua, dry frying it or you can cook it, you can do laab suk, which means you've cooked it in liquid, kind of boiled it so that the flavors combine, you have some water on the plate. Some juice on the plate some liquid on the plate. It has soaked up the flavors of the meat and the spice. In his version it was coua, like dry fried, but it wasn't oily at all, so we had to figure out what kind of pan did he use? Probably used a wok pan because that's typical for that kind of thing and then very little oil, a very little bit of oil in there so the meat didn't stick. The other thing we noticed was that there were bright green pieces of herb in there, so that probably means that he added the herb later in the process or he cooked it very quickly so it didn't have a time to wilt. So, looking at all those different things, that's how we determine how we were going to cook it and plate it. Now had we used a food processor to grind the garlic, we would've gotten an entirely different texture, or had we used a meat grinder to grind the meat, we would have got a completely different texture which would have given us a different flavor. The spice paste itself, same story. If you make a spice paste or a curry paste in a food processor or blender or in a bowl with the back of a spoon, you don't get the same thing as if you use a mortar and pestle where you're pounding the ingredients with a heavy tool, and it's smashing it and releasing the flavors, and you're not heating the mixture up when you pound it. If you blend something in a blender or a food processor, the blades are going very, very fast. They're creating heat, so it's changing the flavor of the ingredients as you do that. If you smash it in a mortar and pestle, you're releasing the flavors. You're also breaking down the fibers in a certain way and you're combining things in a certain way that affects the flavor in the end. So, if you are making a particular dish, there's a reason why people stick with old tools when new ones are available. It's because it affects the flavor, the texture, the aroma. So, in our case, using a blender to make the spice paste would not result in the correct or most ideal flavor texture. So, any kind of ethnic cuisine where they use a particular type of tool and they still use it, you should probably try to get that tool to make it because the result is going to be different than if you try to apply it to the tools you have in your kitchen. 7. Consumption: In order to complete the process of making this dish, how it's consumed is just as important as the other steps. Making sure the people have the correct tools to eat it and the context in which to eat it can change entirely the experience of eating it. So it's important to present things in a way that makes sense culturally as well because things taste different depending on what tools you use to put them in your mouth. So the north of Thailand, sticky rice being the staple, the only real easy way to eat sticky rice and the best way is to eat with your hands. So, you pick up the rice, you make a little ball and make little cup and you pick the food up and you put it in your mouth. This is the way that the food of the northern Thailand has been developed over the years. So, you don't typically find food in a form where you're going to have to take a knife and a fork and cut it up. Typically, the food is in some sort of form where you can just pick it up and eat it with your hands without maybe you have to pull pieces of meat off the bone or something like that. But you're not going to have to sit there and sew steak up. The middle come cut or chopped. The vegetables are in shapes that you can pick up and eat, put in your mouth or you can pick up a whole piece and crunch it if it's raw. Over the years, that's the way that the food has been cooked, the way that the cuisine is developed is something you eat with your hands. In modern days, Northern Thai people tend to eat kind of the same way the Central Thai people do which is with a spoon and a fork. Spoon to pick up the food and put in your mouth, the fork to push the food onto the spoon. Somewhere in the mid to late 1800s, spoon and fork got imported from Europe and introduced to the Thai table and now that's how Thai people eat. They eat with a spoon and a fork, once again, the spoon to pick up the food, the fork to push the food onto the spoon. This makes a lot of sense when you're eating jasmine rice which if you've ever tried to eat with chopsticks, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Its very light and fluffy. You try to put your chopsticks and you come away with very little. It's very hard to eat a curry with chopsticks also because you're missing the sauce. All you're doing is pulling the chunks of stuff out of there and often the chunks are not the important part of the dish. They're to kind of add some texture and flavor, but often what you want is the actual broth or the sauce and you need a spoon to get that or else you're not going to get the essence of the dish. So, chopsticks are not what Thai people used to eat, chopsticks were introduced here in America to Thai food because we, as Americans, and very myopically think of all Asian food as kind of what you eat with a chopstick. In Thailand, chopsticks are used for eating noodles or Chinese food and most noodles are Chinese. So, really it's for eating Chinese food and everything else is eaten with a spoon and a fork or with your hands. So many different aspects of Thai life revolve around rice, the seasons and you can't understate how important rice is to the food and to the culture of Thailand. So, larb, we talk about larb, it's really difficult to talk about larb without talking about sticky rice that goes with it. When you're eating a very, very spicy dish in Thailand, you might be wondering why is the food so spicier, so sour, so richer, so sweeter, so anything. You got to remember that typically and historically, you would eat a large quantity of rice and a small amount of the food to go with it. So imagine if you're faced with leading a life where you're going to be eating like massive quantities of rice every single day, and you're living in basically in agrarian society, where you're farming or you're growing things or you're gathering things. You don't live in the royal palace so you don't have a lot of money. Meat is expensive to raise. To kill an animal is a big deal. So you tend to make things stretch. So you've got this big quantities of relatively bland rice. The food that you eat with it, you're going to want it to be substantial. You want the flavor to stay with you because you're gonna be eating with a lot of rice. You want it to complement the rice. You want the rice to complement it so that's why a lot of Thai food, not just northern Thai or Northeastern Thai or Southern Thai, but Central Thai as well. This food has these very deep, strong, brilliant flavors because you're eating with lots and lots of this rice. It's important to understand the context of this class that the dish that I describe, the larb is a very, very spicy, highly seasoned thing. You eat with a lot of herbs but often you also eat it with sticky rice because eating just meat, you're not going to be able to fill up on this meat. You need the herbs and the vegetables to kinda help you with digestion, to supplement the vitamins you don't get from just eating meat and you need the rice to fill your stomach, to give you the carbohydrates to give you the energy. So I can't really imagine eating these dishes from Northern Thailand, this dish that I've been describing over and over again without rice being present. It completes the meal in a certain way. Another factor in consuming food is the role and as well as cooking is the role that aroma plays in it. You can often tell if something is cooked correctly or is going to taste correctly by the way it smells. The way for instance when you eat Thai food and you get jasmine rice with it, jasmine rice has a very beautiful scent and that scent kind of completes the flavor of the food. We taste with our nose as much as we taste with our mouth. So if you serve food too hot, you lose some of that. If you serve it too cold, you lose some of it. There's a sweet spot where temperature, aroma, flavor, seasoning all play a part in making something tastes good. So it's important to remember that. 8. Conclusion: So for your own project, it would be important to also research how this food is eaten, if it's Ethiopian food eaten with the injera and picked up and put in your mouth. If you make a doro wat and then you forget to add the injera or you just eat it with a fork, you're taking away from the experience of this dish. If you eat a taco with a knife and a fork, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There's something about the whole process of picking up a taco, putting everything into it and feeding yourself with it. It's a different process than if you were to take it, cut it up with a fork and a knife and try to eat like that. So, if you're doing some sort of ethnic dish, it's a good idea to go ahead and research how it's eaten, what other dishes are eaten with it, because that's important, too. In what context and what tools and what methods and what ways are these foods eaten as well as how they're cooked, how they taste, how they smell and their historical importance. The tools, the methods and the approach you make to the dish are as important as the ingredients you put into them. 9. More Culinary Classes on Skillshare: