A leading Thai chef wants to share the secrets of her nation’s cuisine so young Scots can make healthier versions of their favourite takeaways.
Rujira (Ru) Herd is executive chef and course director at the Krua Thai Cookery School in Edinburgh, where she has passed on her skills to students and professional chefs for more than two decades.
Now she has revealed plans to offer Thai cuisine courses specially designed for schools and youth organisations, in a bid to give young people the skills to create their own homemade ‘fakeaways’.
Ru, who has worked with leading chefs such as the world-renowned Albert Roux and Hilton’s International Board of executives, believes young people have developed exotic tastes thanks to the growth of Thai restaurants, but don’t know where to start when it comes to recreating dishes at home.
“Thai food has become incredibly popular,” she said. “An entire generation has been raised to enjoy the delicious flavours of Thai food when eating out, but often they have no idea where to start to make the same dishes at home,” she said.
Thai cuisine relies on many different herbs and spices to produce colour and flavouring, something that is not fully understood in the west. Specialist teaching of such ingredients and cookery techniques is necessary to achieve the delicate and exotic dishes from the east.
“And while it’s good that children learn in school how to make common sweet and savoury dishes, schoolteachers can’t be expected to understand every national cuisine or be in a position to teach it.
“That’s where I can help by sharing my years of experience.”
Thai food is created around fresh, clean flavours and often combines sour, sweet and spicy in a single dish.
While other cuisines often use a lot of salt, butter or fat, Thai food relies on blending the delicate flavours of local ingredients, to create mouth-watering, healthier dishes.
Getting the right combinations of flavours is vital, however, and understanding what works together and what doesn’t can make or break a dish.
Meanwhile, knowing how to present a dish and the best accompaniments is also a skill which must be learned from experts.
Ru added: “It’s not only about learning how to make Thai food, it’s about creating a beautiful dish that is fresh, healthy and looks fantastic.”
Ru is now offering to either host school parties at her Liberton Brae cookery school, or will travel to schools to stage cookery demonstrations and teaching sessions.
The school sessions are just part of a wide range of cookery courses which have helped students from around the world discover the secrets behind successful Thai cuisine.
Her cookery school has hosted courses for professional chefs, as well as ‘hen and stag’ parties, while her carving courses – a prized element of Far Eastern tables – have proved remarkably popular.
The Krua Thai courses can also be arranged around students’ requirements to cover particular dishes such as vegan, or spotlight ingredients found to have a positive impact on health issues such as low mood or diabetes.
Ru added: “Young people want to learn how to make the food they like to eat, and many love Thai curries, hot and sour soups and many others.
“The ingredients to make Thai dishes at home are increasingly available in local supermarkets, but understanding the flavours and knowing how they combine isn’t straightforward.
“If we want to encourage young people to eat healthy, homemade food, we need to teach them how to make it properly.”
Find out more about Krua Thai Cookery School’s wide range of courses at www.kruathai.co.uk