Visiting Celebrity Chef Mai Pham Cooks Thai and Vietnamese for Abbey Students

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Grace Gibbons–Celebrity chef Mai Pham visited
Portsmouth Abbey a few weeks ago and made dinner for the entire school. She prepared a variety of Vietnamese dishes such as a cucumber and cilantro salad, coconut rice, and chicken. The highlight of her cooking was definitely the coconut rice topped with a shrimp curry. The curry included a perfect balance between sweet and spicy and it tasted delicious. It was a privilege to meet Chef Mai and eat her wonderful food!

Stir, Not Fry

Yanqi Zhiang–Loaded with MSG, drenched in oil, laden with high fructose corn syrup. No, this is not Asian cuisine, no matter what your impression is.

On Thursday, many Abbey students were flabbergasted when Chef Mai Pham chopped fresh shrimps, beans and squash.

“Do you guys eat bok choi and mushrooms and peas instead of General Tsao’s Chicken?”

Yes. Maybe next time when you order a midnight-snack from New China, you should try Nime Chow rather than the greasy egg spring-roll.
For some reason, people nowadays view authentic cuisine as the devil. When we go to a French/American restaurant, the most delicious options are either buttered or battered.

But thank god we don’t have to take the joy out of eating. Those non-Westernized East-Asian dishes are, indeed, very healthy – Chef Mai Pham just proved that. Thank you Chef for giving us
a taste of real food.

Christine Gu–The nationally recognized chef Mai Pham visited Portsmouth Abbey in April. Culinary Arts Club members had a chance to explore the world of authentic Southeast Asian Cuisine: Thai cuisine, Vietnamese Cuisine etc.

She told us about the differences among several kinds of Curry: the original Indian curry, the spicy Malaysian curry and the creative Japanese curry. Thai curry uses coconut milk as its base, ascends from the least spicy to the most are green curry, yellow curry and red curry. Although curry is always sold in forms of powders, curds or sauces, it is a mixture of numerous spices including cloves, chilis, gingers, peppers and so on. Different cultures like to localize curry with their indigenous ingredients. For example, Indians create thousands of different curries using their “secret spice box” (can be seen from the movie The Hundred-Foot Journey). Malaysians benefit from their oceanic resources and add fish sauce, shredded coconut in their curry.

Mai made us some Thai green curry with beans, shrimps and potatoes. Even though I like spicier curry, the soft feeling of coconut milk and green chili was still impressive.

Chef Mai Pham and her curry made up the sadness that we did not get to ask her more questions before dinner.

David Ingraham–Mai Pham improved the usual and mundane dinner that I had been accustomed to at the abbey by a factor of ten. Her simple curies that either pack a spicy punch or a soothing cool dropped the jaws of all my colleges. None
of us had expected anything to spectacular from her, but this pessimistic expectation seemed to make her Thai food that much better. Expectation can be a cruel animal, but in my special case, it was an angel.

Seha Choi–I personally never liked curry. My mom used to cook me Japanese
curry all the time, and I never liked the texture and the taste that it had. However, with the Thai curry it was quite different from the curry I used to have. It flavor and texture was much lighter than Japanese curry, making it a whole new experience. I also had the opportunity to cook curry with Chef Mai Pham and the way she explained it to me made cooking look very easy. This opportunity gave me an opportunity to start enjoying food that I used to not like.

Lucy Ferry–Cooking with curry is a real luxury for it allows one to tailor his or her preferences in a delicious way.  Mai Pham’s Thai green curry was buttery and silky, embodying a warm aura.
The squash, shrimp, and green peas paired beautifully with the dish.  The bok choy vegetables were juicy and flavorful, evoking fond memories of similar home cooking.

Nelson Choi–What’s your first image that pops up when you hear the word ‘curry’? For me, the image of golden yellow, thick curry on sticky rice with hint of tumeric comes up to my mind due to my Korean background. Mai Pham’s vietnamese curry differed greatly from my image, starting with its green hue and hint of cumin and coconut milk. These two curries look and smells like completely different food, except the fact that they are both served on rice. But, when I took the first spoon of the green curry, I could not stop. The coconut milk of the curry just made me keep going for spoon after spoon. Who would’ve known that coconut milk went so perfectly with curry? Jasmine rice also tasted perfect with green curry. I used to regard Jasmine rice inferior to sticky rice, but a bowl of green curry completely shifted my mind. How perfect the marriage was between jasmine rice and green curry! A day of Vietnamese feast in the Abbey made me to seriously consider a trip to Vietnam in this Summer vacation. Real pity that I cannot get any more green curry in Korea nor the Abbey!


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