Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Merry Songkran! and Thai cooking lessons
Here, I'll just post the whole press release because it's interesting, if you're "into" Southeast Asian food:
Saffron Celebrates Songkran, Thai New Year, with Special Holiday Dishes, Festivities and Its Popular Street Food Market
Saffron will celebrate the Thai New Year, Songkran, April 13-15 with a collection of New Year’s specials, tradition-rich festivities and its popular Street Food Market. In recognition of the many Laotian cooks who have worked with her and because Thai and Laotian people share similar New Year’s traditions and dishes, Saffron proprietor Su-Mei Yu has decided to welcome 2554, the “Year of the Metal Rabbit,” by featuring Laotian culinary specialties. Each day of the celebrations will be highlighted by beloved holiday dishes such as Khao Poon Nam Phik, rice vermicelli with chili sauce made of chicken broth seasoned with traditional Lao fermented fish and chili paste, and Laap Kai, a piquant chicken salad dressed with herbs and spices and served with sticky rice.
On April 15, the last night of Songkran, the festivities will conclude with a traditional Thai blessing at 7pm, a special Saffron Street Food Market from 5:30pm to 9pm, and performances by Thai dancers at 6pm. The blessing will entail the traditional ceremony of tying lengths of white twine on a “baci” tree as an offering to the spirits. The belief is that when the spirits accept the tree, they bless the strings, which are then tied on individuals’ wrists as a connection between themselves and the spirits, blessing and protecting them. To symbolize the lengths of twine, vermicelli accompanies many of this year’s holiday dishes at Saffron.
The Thai New Year's celebration, Songkran, a festive national holiday, is regarded as both a time of renewal, and a promise of good fortune during the approaching rainy season. The holiday also is known as the Water Festival, and during this time Thai people sprinkle water both on themselves and on “spirit houses,” since it is believed that this water washes away bad luck. Make plans to enjoy the traditional flavors and celebrations of Songkran – and to wash away bad luck, too – by enjoying the New Year’s food and festivities at Saffron on April 13-15.
Saffron Thai New Year (Songkran) Specials & Street Food Menus
Wednesday, April 13
Kai Keng Khao Poon Chin – Rice vermicelli with aromatic chicken, squid and mushrooms stew. $8.50
Mauk Hed Kaen – Grilled mushrooms in a banana pouch seasoned with chilies and herbs. Served with jasmine rice. $8
Sticky Rice & Sweet Ripe Mango $4.50
Thursday, April 14
Khao Poon Nam Phik – Rice vermicelli with a special chili sauce made of chicken broth seasoned with traditional Lao fermented fish and chili paste. $8.50
Laap Kai – Spicy chicken salad dressed with herbs and spices and served with sticky rice. $8.50
Sticky Rice & Sweet Ripe Mango $4.50
Friday, April 15
Khao Poon Nam Pla – Rice vermicelli with fish stew. $9
Mauk Kai – Grilled boneless chicken in a banana pouch and seasoned with chilies and aromatic herbs. Served with jasmine rice. $8.50
Sticky Rice & Sweet Ripe Mango $4.50
Street Food, April 15 from 5:30pm - 9pm on the Patio
Lao Sandwich – French roll filled with homemade pickles, grilled chicken and grilled pork, cilantro, sliced jalapeno and homemade chili jam. $5
Som Tom – Spicy green papaya salad with sticky rice. $5
Lao Chicken Sausage $3.50 each
Grilled Chicken Skewers – Marinated in herbs and seasoned with spicy sweet and sour sauce. $4
Khao Poon Pad – Stir-fried rice vermicelli with chicken omelet topped with green onion, crispy garlic, crispy shallot and roasted chili oil. $6
Coconut Macaroons 3 for $2.00
Thai Dance Performance at 6pm & Traditional Thai Blessing at 7pm, Friday April 15
COOKING LESSONS WITH SU-MEI YU
Participants can choose either of two classes, scheduled for March 19 and 26. Priced at $95 per student, each class will commence with a visit to a local Asian market. During the excursion, which will last approximately one hour, Yu will shop while explaining the exotic specialties on display and how to best select ingredients. Participants then will return to a private, intimate setting above Saffron for hands-on instructions in preparing these ingredients.
Yu’s demonstrations will include some of the techniques that qualify her as a master of Thai cuisine. Limited in size, the classes will run about two hours, and will emphasize building dishes around what Yu terms “The Big Four Pastes.” These precise blends of flavors create distinctive dishes and are based respectively on salt, garlic, coriander roots and Thai peppercorns. The healthful benefits of these foundation seasonings and their use in traditional recipes will be fully explored as Su-Mei demonstrates such preparations as a dip made with minced chicken, shrimp and coconut milk, and a vegetable stir-fry. In addition, Su-Mei will prepare a tangy shrimp marinade and an Thai exotic dessert enriched with coconut cream. The classes will highlight such specifics as how to prepare fresh coconut milk as well as how to buy and use the ready-made product.
Cooking with Su-Mei Yu
Saturday, March 19 or 26, 10am to 1:30pm
Includes 1 hour tour at a local Asian market (Thuan Phat in Linda Vista) and 2 hours of hands-on instruction at Saffron.
Pre-registration is required and can be made at (619) 574-0048 or email@example.com.
$95 per person (includes all ingredients)
Classes will be offered on two Saturdays in March, the 19th and 26th, and students will assemble at Thuan Phat Market (6935 Linda Vista Rd) in Linda Vista at 10am, shop for an hour, then head to Saffron at 3731-B India Street, San Diego, CA 92103 for class. Total time, including travel to the market, should be approximately three and one-half hours. Participants must pre-register for each class at (619) 574-0048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owner Su-Mei Yu opened one of San Diego’s first authentic Thai restaurants, Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken, on India Street in Mission Hills over 25 years ago. Su-Mei Yu later expanded the Saffron brand with Saffron Noodles & Sate, a comfortable eatery with indoor and outdoor seating. Located next to each other, both restaurants have become San Diego favorites featuring traditional Thai dishes made from recipes Su-Mei learned as a child in Thailand. Saffron’s menus offer guests delicious and affordable fare prepared with Su-Mei Yu’s philosophy of “food for the mind, body and soul”. Su-Mei Yu is an accomplished chef and cooking instructor both locally and nationally and has authored several Thai cookbooks, including Asian Grilling, Cracking the Coconut and the recently-released The Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living. She has been featured on numerous television programs including Martha Stewart, Good Morning America and The Today Show as well as in notable publications such as Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. More information about Saffron and Su-Mei Yu can be found at the Saffron website.
Saffron Noodles & Sate 3737 India Street San Diego, CA 92103 619-574-7737
Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken 3731 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103 619-574-0177