"Finger like that and you won't cut yourself..." Na Min said as he demonstrated the technique to slice garlic. Na Min is one of the 10 Thai mechanics working in our after sales service department in Algiers. Na Min is an unassuming and easygoing man of average height. He looks to be in his mid 40s and for that reason he is referred by the other Thais as 'Na', which means 'Uncle' as a form of respect. And also because he does a lot of cooking for them. He was also my Thai cooking teacher and he was obviously very amused by my inaptitude with the kitchen knife.
It all started much earlier when I made friends with the Thai mechanics here. Anyway, one thing led to another, they got to know that I love Thai food. As the common wisdom goes: teach a man how to fish, it will feed him for a lifetime, so about a month ago by chance, I got the opportunity to learn how to prepare some common Thai dishes from Na Min. The recipes weren't that difficult to follow but getting all the ingredients may be a challenge in Algeria. Some of the ingredients such as the spices for green curry and chilli were brought by the Thais during their vacation back home. That means I have to stock up on Thai ingredients during my next visit back to Singapore.
The first dish Na Min taught me was Gang Keao Wan Gai (Thai green curry with chicken).
I was much surprised and relieved that one of my favourite Thai food is quite easy to prepare.
The second dish was Pad Ka Pow Goong (Stir-fried prawns with chilli and basil)
I don't eat prawns but it is easy to substitute using chicken or other meats. Cooking with basil really enhance the smell!
Finally, I prepared Larb Gai (Stir-fried Chicken Salad)
Larb is also one of my favourite Thai food. It was also surprisingly easy to prepare. They say practice makes perfect and I'm willing to spend lots of time and effort to perfect this dish.
The Verdict: Satisfactory (7/10)
Under expert supervision I was able to cook a authentic and tasty meal, even though some of the ingredients used weren't indigenious Thai. The larb dish was my particular favourite because Na Min's recipe was unlike those that I have tasted.