Cooking with Vannee & Meo, Thailand

Vannee is like a Thai version of your grandmother, with a thick coat of lipstick and a warmth about her reserved for grandmas alone. Her husband, Mr. Meo (pronounced meow like a cat) is a retired chef and was to act as her assistant in the daunting task of teaching westerners how to grind a good curry paste and assemble a proper spring roll.

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Vannee!

In the early morning they welcomed us into their air-conditioned minivan with the playboy license plate adorning the front. Already we knew this was going to be a fun day! We picked 6 dishes each from a menu she had brought along and headed to the local market to get some fresh ingredients. This is some of what we saw:

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All the essentials. You can’t make thai food without fish sauce, soy sauce, mushroom sauce and something spicy!
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5 bhat = $0.17 US
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10 baht = $0.33 US
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Purchasing some vegetables at the market.
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The colour of the peppers makes no difference to their spiciness, it’s the size that matters.
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Pink eggs! These are cured eggs and are black inside … not the most appetizing to look at once cracked.

When we reached the Meo residence, we saw the cooking facilities were all outside. We started by each making our appropriate curry paste from scratch. Mine was a masaman curry and Jesse made a spicy red curry. Throughout the day we would continuously cook and taste-test eachothers dishes. Here are some of the dishes we made, from raw ingredients to finished product.

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From a red curry paste…
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…to Jesse’s Panaeng curry with chicken.
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From raw ingredients (chicken omitted)…
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…to cashew nut chicken.
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Mr. Meo helping Jesse in the outdoor kitchen.
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Waiting for my noodles to cook.
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Raw ingredients (chicken omitted)…
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…to my favourite dish, Khao Soi.
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Raw ingredients (minus soup stock)…
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…to hot and sour soup with prawn.
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Jesse’s spring rolls ready to be fried…
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…and the finished product. Best spring rolls I’ve ever tasted!

Every one of these dishes was soooo tasty and we can’t wait to practice our newfound skills on some friends and family!

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Thank you to Vannee and Mr. Meo for teaching us so much about thai cuisine! Check out ‘Classic Home Cooking – Chiang Mai’ if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai!
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