As much as I love hanging out with B – and I do – I really enjoy (and value) the time that I spend with my girlfriends. Sometimes there is nothing better than a good girls night out to replenish the soul. Sometimes we get together for cocktails, other times for karaoke, but lately we have been getting together to cook. Because my girlfriends and I enjoy cooking (and chatting and drinking) we decided to dedicate a night every month or so to making new dishes and trying new cuisines…and chatting and drinking. (Are you picking up on a theme here?)
We start by choosing a culture that we are interested in, such as Greek or Thai, and then we all attempt to cook a dish (either an appetizer, entrée, dessert, or a drink) that we haven’t made before. We then meet up at someone’s house, with dishes in hand, and share our food before the night turns into a drinking, gossiping frenzy. Besides being a lot of fun, it’s also a great way to learn about different cultures, try new foods, and have a fairly cheap night in. Plus, you can bring all the booze you want!
Our recent Thai night menu consisted of:
- Spicy Yam and Spinach Soup
- Mango and Noodle Salad
- Papaya, Peanut, and Prawn Salad
- Pad Thai with Prawns
- Green Chicken Curry
The great thing about Thai food is that the food is very light, fresh, and unrefined, so even though we ate a lot, I didn’t feel overly full. We did notice that a lot of the dishes used the same ingredients (prawns, limes, cilantro, peanuts, rice noodles) but that this didn’t feel repetitive because the flavours of each dish were vastly different. Some were spicy, some were more pungent, and others were even a little sweet.
My friends are awesome cooks so the food standards are always really high and I always leave impressed that we made this yummy food. Next up is Italian night and I can’t wait to see what the girls have up their sleeves!
Here is the recipe that I made for Thai night and have since made again. Be warned: it does have some spice to it so cut back on the amount of chilli if you don’t want too much heat. I adjusted this recipe from the one I found in “The Essential Asian Cookbook”. I changed out the dry shrimp for cooked ones, and I also cubed my papaya rather than shredding it because I prefer the big cubes. If you are interested in a cookbook that gives a good introduction to many different Asian cuisines, this book is a great place to start. The recipes are easy to follow and it provides a lot of tips and advice on substituting ingredients.
Papaya, Peanut, and Prawn Thai Salad – Serves 4 to 6
12 (or more!) de-veined and shelled prawns
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
100 grams green beans, cut into short pieces
1 medium lettuce (I used romaine)
1/2 medium papaya, peeled and cut in large cubes
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
1 sprig of green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of lime juice
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 teaspoons of soft brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped red chilli
1 red chilli, extra, finely chopped
Cook the beans in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and then plunge them into iced water; drain again. On a BBQ or in a pan, gently cook the prawns with a splash of olive oil and the garlic. Cook for only about 3 or 4 minutes, or until the prawns are no longer translucent, before removing from heat and allowing to cool.
Shred the lettuce and arrange on a serving plate or in a large bowl. Top with the beans and the cubed papaya.
Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chilli in a small bowl; mix well. Pour over the salad and sprinkle the peanuts, onions, and extra chilli over the top.