This Independence Day was memorable to Oishi and me not just because we saw the beautiful fireworks at Thompson park of Monroe township but also since we had a fabulous dinner with Pad-Thai in the same park (Fireworks and Pad-Thai). Kind and wonderful, Chef Phensri cooked a special veg Pad-Thai for Oishi even when she knew Oishi was the only customer asking for the vegetarian version of the dish. While Chef Phensri was cooking for Oishi, I found out that she teaches Thai cooking in Old Bridge. I got her number and enrolled in her class for an October session.
I had tried my hand at Thai cooking, specifically Pad-Thai, using YouTube and other cooking sites, only to be prove that it is probably not my forte. But when Chef Phensri cooked in front of me at the Thompson Park, it seemed easy, and I decided to give Thai cooking one last chance.
On the first Saturday of October, I and another student named, Tom, gathered around in Chef Phensri’s cozy kitchen. We cooked the famous Tom Yum Goong soup with lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, chicken and veggies. The heavenly aroma made it irresistible, and we devoured it in a few minutes. Pad-Thai was the next item to be cooked. I noticed that Chef Phensri soaked the noodles in water and never boiled them. She also mixed the sauce ahead of time with the right ingredients in perfect proportions instead of pouring the sauce ingredients from the bottles while cooking. These were the two major differences from my recipe, and I thought, “Can it really make such a big difference?” It did. The end result was delicious, yet the method was simple and easy to follow. We also cooked basil chicken, chicken green curry and fried rice. I could only eat a spoonful of each recipe. But Chef Phensri, the kind woman that she is, packed my food in boxes for dinner.
Since then, I have tried all the recipes I cooked on that day including some more, and each time Oishi has said, “This is the best dinner I have ever had!” Wanting to push the envelope a little further, I decided to cook Thai food for around 40 people I have invited for Oish’s 16th birthday in December. I guess I will have to write another post with comments from my guests!
A special thanks to Chef Phensri of Fantastic-Thai.