Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Class Overview


About Thai Food

Many people love Thai food, and for good reason ... it’s delicious! But most Americans are only familiar with Thai-Western fusion cuisine using pre-packaged ingredients and are missing out on the full flavors and health benefits authentic, traditional Thai cooking can offer.

Cooking with Jirayu offers students the building blocks for preparing real Thai food from scratch, instructs them in the health benefits of various traditional Thai ingredients and puts it all together to ensure each student is capable of cooking several dozen or more delicious dishes for friends and family.

Students will learn mortar-and-pestle technique for creating Thai curry and chili pastes, fruit-carving and other decorative arts, how to shop for the best ingredients and other important yet simple ways to ensure their Thai cooking is great tasting, great looking and almost completely unprocessed.1 With Jirayu’s building blocks, creating delicious, healthy meals will be a snap ... no more fussing around for hours to make dinner!

Jirayu’s philosophy is simple: When students are well-versed in the fundamentals of authentic Thai cuisine, they will be able to experiment with different ingredients and combinations, fusing what they like best about Thai food and other culinary traditions.

Cooking with Jirayu offers Full Thai, Vegetarian, and Atkins menus, according to students’ preferences and diet. Dishes not on menu can also be taught for advanced cooking students.

1A few ingredients commonly used in Thai cooking, such as shrimp paste, take literally months to prepare. Instruction for making all ingredients from scratch is available, though most students may opt for buying certain hard-to-make items pre-packaged, at first.

Class Setup

Students will select three dishes from any menu per session. Jirayu will bring food to your house and teach you in the comfort of your own home. She will bring any required cooking tools that you do not own (yet).
Students may also go with Jirayu to purchase the food in order to learn where they can buy the best Thai cooking ingredients for a good price. (optional)

Lesson prices: $70 per person – one individual
$ 65 per person – two individuals
$60 per person – three or more individuals (maximum 4 people)
*Food included in price*


Full Thai Menu
1. Curry pastes (naam prik gang) . Red chicken curry w/ coconut (panang gai)
2. Carved fruits (gaesaluk)
3. Spring rolls (paw bea)
4. Barbecued meat or seafood (satay)
5. Long bean fish cakes (tot mon pla)
6. Green papaya salad (som tam)
7. Glass noodle salad (yam voon sen)
8. Pork, chicken or beef salad (larb)
9. Traditional Thai soup w/ seafood or chicken (tom yum)
10. Vegetables w/ chicken sauce (nam prik gai gup pakluak)
11. Crab curry (bhu pad pong karee
12. Green curry with chicken and vegetable
13. Yellow chicken curry w/ coconut and potatoes or pumpkin (gang karee gai)
14. Three-flavor fish (pla saam rot)
15. Fried basil with chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or squid (pad kapow)
16. Fried chicken and cashew nuts (gai pad med mamuang)
17. Fried chicken or pork and rice noodles (pad si ew)
18. Fried chicken, shrimp or pork w/garlic and pepper (tawd kratiem prik Thai)
19. Barbecued chicken and sticky rice (kao niaw gai yang)
20. Mango and sticky rice (kao niaw mamuang)
21. Banana and coconut milk (gluay buad shee)

Vegetarian Menu
1. Curry pastes (with or without shrimp paste) (naam prik gang)
2. Spring rolls (paw bea)
3. Carved fruits (gaesaluk)
4. Green papaya salad (som tam)
5. Long bean salad (tum tua)
6. Cucumber salad (tum taeng)
7. Glass noodle salad (yam voon sen)
8. Bamboo salad (soop naw mai)
9. Traditional Thai soup, vegetarian style (tom yum)
10. Sweet and sour vegetables (pad preow wan)
11. Eggplant, corn and basil soup (gaeng liang)
12. Curry with banana flour (gaeng hua pli)
13. Yellow curry w/ bamboo (gaeng nomai)
14. Sour curry w/ bamboo (gaeng sum nomai)
15. Sour curry w/ green papaya and long beans (gaen sum melakor gup tua)
16. Fried basil with bamboo (pad kapow)
17. Mango and sticky rice (kao niaw mamuang)
18. Banana and coconut milk (gluay buad shee)

Atkins
Many dishes in the Full Thai menu can be prepared without carb- and sugar-heavy ingredients, and served without rice. Jirayu will tailor the dishes you select to your dietary needs.

*Jirayu is also available to cater dinner parties for up to 20 people*

Some Recipes for You to Sample!


Thai sweet & sour vegetables

* 1 pound mixed vegetables
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
* 1 to 2 tablespoons of bean sauce
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* Half teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* Half cup water

Cut vegetables into 1 to 2 inch strips. Heat oil and garlic in a frying pan on medium heat until garlic is golden brown. Stir in mixed vegetables, bean sauce, sugar, salt. Combine the corn starch and water, blend to make a smooth paste. Stir cornstrach mixture in to the frying pan and cook until vegetables are cooked and sauce is thickened. Then add green onion and parsley.

Select from the following vegetables for cooking:

Asparagus, cucumbers, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatos, green onions, chinese parsley

Thai style cabbage salad

* 3 tablespoons lime juice
* 2 tablespoons soy mushroom sauce
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* A pinch of hot chili flakes
* 5 cups red and green cabbage
* Half cup slivered red onion
* Half cup chopped fresh mint leaves
* Half cup chopped fresh cilantro
* Half cup chopped salted peanuts
* A pinch of salt

Mix lime juice, soy mushroom sauce, a little water, sugar, chili fiakes and salt to taste. Stir in cabbage and onion. Before serving stir in mint cilantro and peanuts.
Thai green papaya salad

* Half pound green papaya / or cucomber
* 1 clove garlic
* 2 to 3 chili peppers, seeded
* 1 tomato, sliced in strips
* 2 tablespoons bean sauce/for “Full Thai” add 2 tablespoons fish sauce
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
* 1 tablespoon palm sugar or other grain sugar
* Long beans cut in 1/2 inch sections, to preference
* Ground peanuts/for “Full Thai” add small salted shrimps, to preference
* Apples chopped, to preference (optional)
* Carrots chopped, to preference (optional)

Peel and seed green papaya. Shred, grind together garlic and chili peppers in a food processer or mortar. Mix together the papaya,long bean, apple, tomatoes, carrots, bean sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, nuts

Serve with cabbage/cucumber/long bean

Jungle curry with vegetables

* Red curry paste w/ or w/o shrimp paste
* 1 tablespoon red chili peppers
* Half stalk fresh lemon grass
* Kaffir lime skin peeled, 2 to 3 pieces or to preference
* 3 sliced thai ginger roots
* 4 to 5 kaffir lime leaves
* 2 tablespoons oil
* Half cup coconut milk
* Half teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons bean sauce
* Some sweet basil, to preference

Grind together red chili peppers, lemon grass and kaffir lime skin, Thai ginger in a mortar. Cut vegetable into thin strips. Heat oil to medium and
saute curry paste for 3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and cook for 3 minutes. Add some vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to
low. Stir in bean sauce. Add sweet basil, kaffir lime leaves last.

Select from the following vegetables for cooking: Bamboo shoots, miniature corn, mushrooms, asparagus, zuchini

Stir fried ong choi with yellow bean sauce

* 5 tablespoons oil
* 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
* 1 pound ong choi cut into 2-inch lengths
* 3 teaspoons yellow bean sauce
* A pinch of sugar

Heat oil on low heat in a large pan and fry garlic until golden brown. Add ong choi and yellow bean sauce with a pinch of sugar to high heat. Stir fry until ong choi softens. Serve immediately.

Spring rolls

* Half cup Chinese glass noodle
* 1 cup mixed chopped vegetables (cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, cilantro and/or other favorites)
* 1 tablespoon soy mushroom sauce
* 1 to 2 cups oil
* 2 cloves chopped garlic
* Quartered rice papers

Cut Chinese glass noodles into small sections. Mix into chopped vegetables. Put a pan on low heat, adding a little oil into the hot pan and frying garlic until golden brown. Stir fry Chinese glass noodles and mix ed vegetables for 2 minutes. Add soy mushroom sauce, frying until cooked and to taste. Wait until mixture cools. Take 1 tablespoon of the cooked vegetables and add into quartered rice pepper, rolls into spring rolls.

Frying: Add 1 to 2 cups oil into hot frying pan on low heat, add spring rolls to hot oil, fry until golden brown. After removal from the oil, dry the oil off as best you can.

Dipping Sauce

* 2 tablespoons water
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* Pinch of salt
* Pinch of chili flakes

In a small pot on low heat, add water, sugar, salt, chili flakes to taste. Wait until sauce thickens and remove from heat.
Soy bean sauce & fresh vegetables

* Half cup soy bean sauce
* Half cup sliced lemon grass
* 4 shallots
* 3 tablespoons coconut milk
* 3 tablespoons tamarine juice
* 1 egg
* 3 tablespoons sliced kaffir lime leaves
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 3 fresh chilis

Slice lemon grass and shallots. Grind together in a mortar. Heat a pan
on low heat. Add soy bean sauce with lemon grass and shallots for
3 minutes. Add the egg and fry for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk, sugar
tamarine juice, kallir lime leaves, fresh chili.

Serve with vegetables.

Traditional Thai soup with seafood

* 5 to 6 red dry chili peppers (or more if you like it spicy)
* 3 shallots
* 3 cloves garlic
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 to 2 tablespoons soy mushroom sauce/if “Full Thai” replace with fish sauce
* 1 lemon grass, cut to 1-inch sections, break down slightly in mortar or with blunt side of knife
* 5 to 6 kaffir lime leaves
* 3 to 4 pieces of sliced Thai ginger, break down slightly in mortar or with blunt side of knife
* 4 tablespoons lime juice
* 3 cups water
* 1 pound mixed seafood

Fry dry red chili peppers, shallots, garlic in a pan on low heat (no oil)
until slightly blackened. Take off heat, grind in a motar until somewhat broken down. Add water into a medium pot on high heat until boiling. Add dry chili, shallot, garlic mix, Thai ginger, lemon grass, salt, soy mushroom sauce, lime juice. Add mixed seafood until cooked - don’t stir but let cook. Add kaffir lime leaves at the end.
Thai coconut soup with chicken

* Half pound boneless chicken breast
* Half pound mushrooms
* 2 cups water
* 1 cup coconut milk
* 4 to 5 thin slices Thai ginger, break down slightly in mortar or with blunt side of knife
* 1 stalk lemon grass cut into 1-inch pieces, break down slightly in mortar or with blunt side of knife
* 5 to 6 kaffir lime leaves
* 2 to 3 kaffir lime peel slices
* 2 shallots
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 2 to 3 tablespoons soy mushroom sauce/if “Full Thai” replace with fish sauce
* 3 to 4 fresh red chilis, seeded and sliced
* A few Chinese parsley sprigs

Cut chicken and mushrooms into thin strips. In a big pot add coconut
milk and water at medium low heat. Take shallots, garlic, kaffir lime skin and grind in a mortar. Add grinded mix to hot coconut milk and water with Thai ginger, lemon grass, fresh lime juice, soy mushroom sauce/fish sauce, to taste. Add chicken, mushrooms. Wait 3 minutes, then add kaffir lime leaves.

To garnish: Fresh chilis seeded and sliced, Chinese parsley sprigs.

Corn Curry

* 1 tablespoon red curry paste
* 2 ears corn
* 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* Pinch of salt or splash of fish sauce

Shave kernels from corn. In a pan on low heat add vegetable oil. Fry red curry paste in hot oil very briefly before smell overpowers. Add corn and stir fry until cooked. Add salt or fish sauce to taste.

Garnish with basil and red or green chili.

Serve with rice or cabbage
Fried cashew nut with chicken

* 1 cup oil
* 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
* Half cup fried cashew nut
* Half pound boneless chicken breast
* Half cup sliced onion
* Half cup green onion
* 5 red dry chili peppers (fried in a pan until somewhat blackened with no oil, low heat)
* 2 tablespoons soy mushroom sauce/if “Full Thai” replace with fish sauce
* Pinch of sugar

Cut chicken into thin strips and put into frying pan with oil on low heat. Fry chicken until golden brown and use a new pan on low heat with a little oil and fry garlic until golden brown. Add cashew nuts, chicken, onion, dry chili, soy mushroom sauce/fish sauce, sugar to taste. Add green onions last.

Pork salad

* 1/2 pound pork, minced (can substitute chicken or beef)
* 2 tablespoons sliced shallot
* 2 tablespoons sliced onion
* 3 tablespoons chopped green onion
* 3 tablespoons chopped chinese parsley
* 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
* 2 teaspoons chili flakes
* 1 tablespoon sticky rice (cook with no oil until brown, grind in a mortar until very fine, like salt or sugar)
* 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
* 2 tablespoons chopped eryngium
* 1 tablespoon soy mushroom sauce/if “Full Thai” replace with fish sauce

Heat a small skillet and cook pork in a little water (no oil), stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Wait until pork cools. In a bowl combine pork, shallots, onions, fresh lime juice, chili flakes, soy mushroom sauce/fish sauce, ground roasted rice. Add mint, green onions, chinese parsley at the end.

Serve with cabbage, cucumber, long bean


Red curry paste

* 3 cloves of garlic
* 2 teaspoons of salt
* 3 thinly sliced Thai ginger roots
* 4-5 thin slices of kaffir lime skin
* 1 bunch of lemongrass, thinly sliced
* 5-10 red Thai chilis
* 1/2 tablespoon of shrimp paste

Grind all ingredients using a mortar and pestle until a fine consistency.

Green curry paste

* 3 cloves of garlic
* 2 teaspoons of salt
* 3 thinly sliced Thai ginger roots
* 4-5 kaffir lime skin peels
* 1 bunch of lemongrass, thinly sliced
* 5-10 green Thai chilis
* 1/2 tablespoon of shrimp paste

Grind all ingredients using a mortar and pestle until a fine consistency.

Eggplant with tofu

* 1 Japanese eggplant
* 1/4 pound of tofu
* 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
* 3 cloves garlic, crushed
* 4 red chilis, sliced
* 20 fresh sweet basil leaves
* 2 tablespoons soy mushroom sauce

Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1/8 inch thick slices. Cut tofu into1/2 inch cubes. Heat oil in skillet, add garlic and stir fry until light brown. Add eggplant and tofu, cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except basil. Mix gently, adding the basil at the end. Serve immediately.




Yellow curry with potatoes and chicken

* 1 tablespoon of red curry paste
* 2 teaspoons of yellow powdered curry
* 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce
* 2 potatoes, cubed
* 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
* 1/2 pound of chicken
* 1/2 cup of coconut milk
* 1/2 cup of water
* 20 sweet basil leaves
* Carrots, onions or other vegetables to preference

Boil the potatoes (and carrots and/or other vegetables you might include for a boil time appropriate to the consistency you prefer), then strain. In a big pan, heat vegetable oil at low heat. Add red curry paste to pan, fry for a few seconds before adding a little water. Add the chicken and cook through. Add coconut milk and remaining water. Add yellow powdered curry. Add fish sauce. Add potatoes (and other vegetables), wait until liquid boils. Add basil leaves last. Garnish with long slices of red chili.

Fried rice with chicken
* 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
* 1 egg
* 1 cup of rice
* 1 tomato, cut into quarters
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce
* 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
* 1 green onion, chopped

Thinly slice chicken into 2-inch strips. Heat oil in the pan on medium heat.
Cook garlic until light brown. Stir in chicken, onion, egg. Increase heat to high and stir fry for 5 minutes. Add some rice, fish sauce and green onion.
Stir fry for 2 minutes. Serve with sliced cucumber. Garnish with green onion, chinese parsley

Note: Pork, shrimp, beef, chicken or crab can be added to the fried rice if desired.

Fish cakes

* 1 cup of vegetable oil
* 1/2 pound of boneless fish
* 1/2 pound of longbeans cut into 1-inch segments
* 1/2 cup of holy basil
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
* 1- 2 tablespoons of red curry

Grind the fish and longbeans using a mortar and pestle, then add the rest of the ingredients and grind together less vigorously. Take about a tablespoon full of fish cake mixture and place in hot oil until its golden brown. Remove and place on plate with paper towel to remove excess oil.

Green curry with beef and eggplant or mixed green vegetables

* 2 tablespoons green curry paste
* 1/2 pound of beef
* 1/2 cup of coconut milk
* 20 sweet basil leaves
* 1/2 cup of water
* 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce
* 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
* 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced or mixed green vegetables

Add vegetable oil to a pan on low heat. When the oil is hot, add green curry paste and fry for a few seconds. Add a little bit of the water, then the beef. Fry the beef until it’s cooked through. Add the coconut milk and the remaining water. Stir. When the liquid is boiling, add the fish sauce and then the eggplant or mixed green vegetables. Add the basil last. Garnish with long red chili slices.












sticky rice with mango

* 2-3 ripe mango
* 3 cups cook sticky rice
* 1 cup coconut milk
* 4 tablespoons sugar
*1/4 salt

Rine mangoes and chill them whole. Peel and slice mangoes just before serving to keep the fresh sweet taste. In a sauce pan combine sticky rice
and coconut milk cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick.
Stir in sugar and salt. The amount of sugar depends on the sweetness of the mangoes.Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
Serve warm on a platter with chilled mango slices arranged around the
edge.

Chinese glass noodle w/ shirmp salad

* 1 small roll of chiness glass noodle,soak in worm water 5 minutes
* 5-6 fresh shirmps
* 2 groves shallot thinly sliced
*1/2 onion thinly sliced
* 3 fresh chillis pound in a mortar until fine
* 1 Tablespoon of fish sauce
* 1 Tablespoon of lime juice
* 1/2 salantro choped
* 1/2 green onion sliced
* 4-5 leaves of mint

Boiled half cup of water and cook glass noodle for 2 seconds then drain
of the water. Boiled half cup of water and cook some shirmp until tern red
then drain of water. Add glass noodle, shirmp, shallot, onion, chillis, fish sauce, lime juice, salantro, green onion, mint, mixed every thing in a lage bowl ( you can add some more lime or fish sauce just how you like the taste ) serve with cabbage / long bean / cucumber.










Jungle Curry Long Bean w/ Chicken

Half cup of long bean cut into 1 inch
Half pound of chicken slice into 1 inch long
1 Tablespoon ot bell peper
1 Tablespoon of fish sauce
Half Tablespoon of red curry paste
4-5 Tablespoon of sugar
5-6 leaves of holy basil or sweet basil
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

Add oil into the hot pan and tern down the heat, Add red curry paste and fry for 2 second then add water untill boil, Put the chicken in and fry untill cook. Add bell peper ,fish sauce ,sugar.and long bean, basil,fry for 3 second.



Fry spicy holy basil w/ pork

* 2 groves of garlic
* 3 fresh chilis
* 3 tablespoons oil
* Half pound of ground pork
* Half cup of holy basil
* 1& half table spoons of fish sauce
* 1-2 teaspoon of sugar


Pound garlic and fresh chillis in a mortar and pestle. Add oil into the hot frying pan, Tern down the heat, Then put garlic and chili into the hot oil and fry untill the garlic tern yellow. Add ground pork into the garlic and chili.
Then add fish sauce, sugar,fry until porks cook. At last add holy basil.













Fry noodle w/ shirmp ( Pud Thai )

For noodle

* 1/2 pound of rice noodle
* 1 teaspoon of black sweet soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons of sugar
* 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
* 1 cup water
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For vegetable

* 1/2 pound of shirmp
* 1/3 cup of green chives ( cut into 1 inch long )
* 1/3 cup of bean sprouts
* 1/3 cup of tofu cube
* 2 groves garlic choped
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 tablespoons fish sauce
* 2 tablespoons sugar


*(1) Boil water in the medium pot, Add the rice noodle into boiled water for 3 minutes or until noodle tern solf ( cook ) then drain of all the water.

*( 2) In the medium pot with cooked noodle, add black sweet soy sauce
mix until the noodle tern litter black.
The best way to make this noodle mix the black sweet soy sauce with noodle right after drain of water,1-2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, ( no heat )

*( 3 ) In the frying pan, tern on hight heat until the pan get hot, then add 2 tablespoons oil and choped garlic , fry the garlic until tern yellow.
Then add the green chives, bean sprouts, tofu , 2 tablespoons of fish sauce , 2 tablespoons of sugar, and shirmp, fry until the shirmp cook.

: To serve with : green onion sliced , salantro leaves, lime juice, red chili
flake , red dry shirmp ,nuts choped , fish sauce , sugar , the bottom of green chives cut in to 3 inch,

Jirayu in the Press


THE BEST OF THAI CUISINE

Appeared in the Gilroy Dispatch on Monday, November 22, 2004

By Melania Zaharopoulos (MelaniaNZ@hotmail.com)

Taste is much like a paint set. Sweet, sour, salty and bitter - the four things our tastebuds can actually sense - act as the primary colors each gourmand has to work with.

They're supplemented by our olfactory system, which senses spice, pungency and fragrance, the finer shadings of our palette.

Blend too many colors together and all you'll get is goopy brown chutney, but layer them and you can achieve balance, contrast and complexity.

In the art world, Thai cuisine would be an impressionist - a Monet or Van Gogh - with swipes of raw color miraculously combined to create a stunning effect. At once sweet and sour, rich and low-fat, it is spicy, pungent and, when authentically prepared, deliciously, earthscorchingly hot.

Influenced by a world of visitors since its foundation (originally known as Sukhothai when it became an independent nation in 1238), Thailand has acted as a crossroads for Asia.

Its Chinese roots were fused with the curries brought by Indian monks at the turn of the 18th century and the hot peppers brought by Portuguese missionaries. Local items simulated ingredients travelers found lacking. Most notably, coconut milk replaced dairy sources, leading to the sweetly distinct soups and curries found in the country today.

Notable flavors include "fish sauce, lemon grass, chilies, garlic, curry, palm sugar and tamarind," according to Jirayu "Ann" Poeter, a cooking instructor from Thailand who now resides in Gilroy.

"Mostly the taste is fish sauce," said Poeter. "If someone has fish sauce, they can prepare everything in their fridge Thai-style except maybe for pizza."

Thai style itself is not homogenous. The country's jungle-filled south is home to hot curries and fresh fish dishes, while residents of the mountainous north prefer to feast on grilled meats and fiery dipping sauces.

The nation's middleground is dominated by orchards and rice paddies, but all of these locales are represented in the teeming streets of Bangkok.

"We have three different kinds of cooking: Home, restaurant and street," said Poeter. "At home rice is served with almost every meal, where you have things like sour curry with green papaya or long bean and shrimp. Street stalls sell green papaya salad, pork salad and Chinese glass noodle salad. The good ones have long lines and it's very cheap."

Most Americans are familiar with a toned-down blend of restaurant-style cuisine (panang, tom yum and Thai coconut milk) and Palace cuisine, where complex dishes like Pad Thai are served with garnishes of flowers and carved vegetables.

"(Most Americans) can't handle the spice that Thai people are used to," said Poeter. She'll teach clients to adjust a dish's heat to their palates, but advises a few precautions when eating spicy entrees.

"Have it with just water, not beer or wine," said Poeter. "Otherwise you'll get too hot. And if it's still too spicy, mix the meat into some rice to cool it down."

Below are a few of Poeter's recipes. Not all of the ingredients are likely familiar, and to get the taste right you'll need to venture fairly far afield. There are no Asian specialty markets in the South Valley, but one of the best places to shop for Asian foodstuffs is the gargantuan Ranch 99 Market in San Jose, located at 5625 Snell Ave.

Extensive cooking classes are offered for tourists visiting Thailand, but you can get a similar experience a lot closer to home - in your own home, actually - by calling Poeter at (415) 681-5417 or e-mailing her at jpoeter@yahoo.com.

Melania ZaharopoulosMelania Zaharopoulos is a San Jose-based writer. She can be reached at MelaniaNZ@hotmail.com.