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Catch, Cook & Dine at Sarojin, Khao Lak
By Emma Gardiner
25 January 2013





Fishing for compliments is one thing but fishing for actual fish? This is a new thing for me so I am delighted when I reel in a silvery bream.


Our group is bobbing around in a little fishing boat 2kms off the shore of Khao Lak. This is the third ‘stop’ on our locavore foodie adventure. So far we’ve visited a lemongrass plantation (which incidentally looked like non-descript clumps of grass – you wouldn’t know what it was unless someone pointed it out) and a cashew-processing factory.


Located in a tin shed beside the road, we watched in fascination as the cashews were roasted, cooled and shelled. This process is absolutely painstaking and performed manually, one nut at a time. Little wonder cashews are so expensive.


We spend about an hour on the fishing boat, blissing out on the clear, blue Andaman Sea before we up anchor and head into an estuary to check out a floating fish farm. After a tippy-toeing around the planks and inspecting the nets, we are whisked downriver to a wet market.


Despite the unique stench of a real Thai market, I am in a happy place. When I lived in Thailand back in 1997, I lived next door to a wet market and grew to love the colour, bustle and total weirdness of the produce on display. We wander through the aisles, oohing and aahing over floral garlands, live crabs, spice pastes and deep fried fish intestines. Everywhere you look there’s a photo opp waiting to be exploited.


Next stop is the cooking class that we have all been looking forward to. We are a competitive bunch; a Food Director of a magazine, a wine expert and Deputy Editor of a magazine with ‘Food’ in the title.  I may be outclassed but I won’t be out-cooked. I have five years in commercial kitchens up my sleeve.


 

The cooking stations are set up on a shady riverbank and a platoon of Chefs standby to assist us. First we make a clear soup with fresh ginger and mushrooms, followed by a vermicelli-bound whole prawns that are deep-fried in an enormous wok. We pound fresh tumeric roots and chop kaffir lime leaves for fresh choo chee paste that tastes as vivid as it looks. For the last dish, we stirfry morning glory leaves.


When the dishes are complete, we sit down and eat with complete satisfaction. We did good. The food is alive with flavour and so bountiful that we can’t even begin to finish it. The bream I caught makes an appearance too, deep-fried with garlic.


With full bellies, we lumber off to the van for our transfer back to the Sarojin. We all agree that this is has been our best day yet; sunshine, food and  hands-on adventure.


Catch, Cook and Dine is The Sarojin’s new ‘imagineered’ guest experience. Book at reception and the team will take care of the rest. www.thesarojin.com


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