In April, during my holiday break between the intermediate and supreme cuisine classes at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit, I decided to try a few Thai recipes once only reserved for Thai Kings and the Royal Court.
About Thai Royal Cuisine
Here’s a bit of history from Wikipedia:
Thai Royal Cuisine is known as “the boss’ food.” Originally, it referred to the food that was cooked or prepared by people living in the King’s palace. Thai royal cuisine can trace its history back to the cosmopolitan palace cuisine of the original capital of Thailand (1351–1767 CE). Its refinement, cooking techniques, presentation and use of ingredients were of great influence to the cuisine of the central Thai plains.
Thai Royal Cuisine focuses on the freshness of seasonal products.
Ways that make Thai Royal Cuisine different from “villager food” was to make it beautiful. For example, in The King’s court they served fish without bones, chicken without bones, and the beef served was tenderloin only.
Thai Royal Cuisine is regarded as one of the cultural symbols that represents refinement, the exquisite and the traditional. When we compare Thai royal food with art, it is like a high class art.
The Thai Royal Cuisine Menu
I spent one full day (eight hours) preparing this menu in the Le Cordon Bleu Dusit kitchen on a hot April day.
- Grilled salt-crusted sea bass with special dipping sauce and condiments
- Herbal grilled prawn soup with mushrooms
- Chicken and banana flower parcels cooked in banana leaves
- Steamed Thai rice berry and multigrain rice wrapped in lotus leaves
- Bael fruit juice jelly
Unlike the cooking class I participated in in Chiang Mai, we were able to take all of the food we prepared in the Le Cordon Bleu Dusit kitchen home at the end of the day. It was quite a feast, as we had four potions of each main course item (the Bael fruit jelly alone made 40 pieces). I was happy to share the bounty with the hotel staff in my building.
The recipes we made were much different than the local “street food” you’ll find in local night markets in Bangkok, most cities throughout Thailand, the numerous small Thai restaurants or even the many cooking classes offered to tourists. If you see these recipes at all, they will be reserved for special holidays.
Le Cordon Bleu Dusit in Bangkok is the only school that offers a 9-month professional program in the art of Thai Cooking. If I stay in Bangkok long enough, I might consider taking this course after completing the French Cuisine program.
About Le Cordon Bleu Dusit’s Thai Royal Class
Unlike my regular culinary classes, all of our ingredients were pre-measured for us and waiting at our station upon arrival; even more surprising was the fact that we did not have to clean our dirty dishes! There was no real lecture, just a quick demo of each item before we were let loose to cook. All in all, the Chef was very professional and efficient.
All of the recipes were easy to follow and not very complicated, although there seemed to be an extensive array of fresh ingredients. I had never worked with banana flowers or lotus leaves before, so I definitely learned something new.
The focus of this particular class was creating Healthy Thai meals. In our recipe kit, we were given this useful information about the ingredients we used:
Bael Fruit (above) is good for digestion, reduces inflammation, purifies blood and helps remove toxins; it is a good source of Vitamin C and helps in relieving diarrhea. In Thailand, the fruit is most often used to make tea.
Banana Flower (above) is high in fiber; it’s also a good source of iron.
Instead of white sugar, we used brown sugar, which is good for blood circulation and a good source of calcium and iron.
Holy basil is very pungent and peppery; it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals, and helps relieve stomachaches (can be used in pestos, in place of Italian basil).
Lemon basil is known for aromatic leaves that are high in fiber and a good source of vitamins. The leaves can be eaten raw or used in cooking.
Fresh ginger is a versatile ingredient with terrific health benefits; it’s high in antioxidants, boosts the immune system, has anti-aging properties and stimulates blood circulation.
Lemongrass strengthens the immune system, cures stomach problems and reduces headache and fever.
Mushrooms (above) are a good source of protein and Vitamin B; they are low in calories, free from cholesterol and help strengthen the immune system.
Instead of white rice, we used local Thai Rice Berry: long and dark purple rice grains that are high in antioxidants and rich in Vitamin E, beta carotene, zinc, and iron. They’re also low in sugar and high in fiber.
Stay tuned next week for week 3 in the French culinary program: I made white fish wrapped in ham, poached cod and quail and sweetbread pie.
Mary Hathaway, owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to Dinner-Diva.com for more info.