“Mama, don’t come home from work before 4:50 PM,” Oishi texted me last Friday.
I texted back, “Okay,” and murmured to myself, “What is she up to now? Hope I will find the home in one piece.”
I came home when I was ordered to, but she did not allow me into the kitchen. Instead, I was ordered again to go to my bedroom upstairs.
After about half an hour, Oishi brought a plate full of delectable-looking and mouth-watering stuffed mushrooms. I was starving after the whole day, and the presentation was intensely appetizing. So, the plate was empty in seconds.
Embarrassed, I asked, “Why, mama?”
She simply shrugged and said, “Just wanted to make something special for you before going to Baba’s house.”
Oishi rarely cooks. Her cooking has been limited to heating soup and making omelet. Until recently, she was quite afraid of the stove. So I didn’t want her to cook on the stovetop when I was not around. Not only did she find a recipe which didn’t need a stove, only an oven, but she managed with whatever ingredients I had at home, and improvised and substituted some of them with her own ideas.
It was brilliant and delicious, but above all, it was a product of selfless love and thoughtfulness.
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!