With the arrival of spring in New York City, the nice weather has energized me and I’ve found that I’m trying to fit a lot into these long, beautiful days! I am particularly excited that ICE’s recreational department has developed a new series of shorter classes called ICE al la Minute, which offer a wide variety of core cooking skills in just 1 ½-2 ½ hours. This past Wednesday I participated in my first ICE al la Minute class, Taste of Thai, with Chef Instructor Loren Banco. After discussing the brief history and flavor palate of Thai food, we prepared and then sat down to an authentic meal of chicken and beef sates, green papaya salad, and shrimp pad thai, all within 2 ½ hours. Since the majority of the class had little experience with cooking this cuisine, Chef Banco suggested the below essential items for at-home Thai success.
Wok – This round-bottomed, carbon steel pan is essential in Asian cooking, and is most commonly used for stir frying. Keep it well seasoned with a neutral oil to maintain its non-stick properties.
Wok Ring – A wok ring is a cradle that sits on top of a gas burner and holds the wok slightly above the flame. This helps to maintain adequate heat throughout the entire wok.
Grill Pan – Made of cast-iron, grill pans are a terrific indoor alternative to a charcoal or gas grill. Once hot, they are great for searing sates and produce gorgeous grill marks. Since cast-iron is not a great heat conductor, Chef Banco suggests pre-heating a grill pan over high heat for 20 minutes.
Mise en Place Cups – Mise en place, the French phrase for “putting in place,” refers to organizing and arranging ingredients in cooking. Many Thai dishes, pad thai for example, are composed of several ingredients and garnishes. Chef Banco suggests preparing all ingredients for a dish before you begin cooking, and placing them in individual mise-en-place cups. Arranging mise-en-place cups on a half-sheet tray allows a cook to move ingredients from a prep area to the stove in one trip.
Do you want to develop your culinary skills but feel short on time? Be sure to check out the entire series of ICE a la Minute classes!