Reno chowdown: Cooking class and dinner at Lanna Thai
The Greater Reno Grub and Gripe Group gathered at Lanna Thai Café and Culinary School for an evening of a cooking lesson and eating. Everyone loved the experience and as the evening ended there was talk of planning another.
Lanna Thai operates as a restaurant six days a week. On Monday nights they are closed, but if you have a big enough group Chef Pim will hold a cooking class. You eat what you cook and as GRGAGG member Robin observed, thanks to Chef Pim we were pretty good cooks.
Our menu was Thai chicken coconut soup (tom kha gai), a spicy clams appetizer and a pumpkin shrimp curry. We were escorted from the front to the kitchen where they had cutting boards for us with the recipes for all three dishes printed out.
Chef Pim started us with the pumpkin shrimp curry. We all had knives and Chef Pim had us cut the rind off what I believe were kobocha, an Asian pumpkin. She was speedy with her knife. I brought up the rear but I got enough cut off. We also sliced the pumpkin and then moved on to other vegetables. Finally we had everything prepared and it was time to cook. We started by heating oil in a pot and then adding red curry paste. The trick was to let the paste and oil cook together and then stir until the oil started coming out of the top of the mix. Then we added coconut milk. Chef Pim talked about the different types of curry and their uses (she feels yellow curry is used for vegetarian dishes, for example). We added items that needed to cook the longest first, like roots, and moved through the vegetables. Chef Pim brought out shrimp that had marinated overnight lime juice and something else, I can't remember what. Soon it was time for the final touches. We had put in fish sauce and sugar and Chef Pim would taste our dishes and tell us what to add. It was usually more fish sauce or sugar. After about 25 minutes of cooking we were done. And the pumpkin shrimp curry tasted fabulous.
Next we did the spicy clams. I only watched on this one as others stir fried the clams in woks, adding in sauces and basil leaves, among other ingredients. The clams were also excellent.
Chef Pim had us go eat the curry and clams while she cleaned up the kitchen. There was plenty of food and plenty of leftovers to take home. And like any GRGAGG event, there was also plenty of good wine flowing.
Everyone was stuffed, but it was time to go back into the kitchen and make the chicken coconut soup, a favorite of mine. We started with coconut milk in the pot and added the other ingredients. I had my "Ah Hah!" moment when she tried my soup, which tasted good already, and suggested adding more sugar and fish sauce. About a teaspoon of each gave the soup that extra oomph and made it extra delicious.
Of course, whether I can make it this good at home is another question. I won't have Chef Pim right there to check it and tell me what it needs.
I've eaten at Lanna Thai once before and enjoyed the meal, so it's a great place for either a cooking lesson or just a meal.
Lanna Thai Cafe and Culinary School
800 W 2nd St
Reno, NV 89503