After savoring our delicious starters, we couldn’t wait to see what the cooks behind Thai & Techno had concocted for the main meal. As the background soundtrack played on, we peered expectantly toward the kitchen.
“Thai food is homestyle, but many of the most traditional recipes are very difficult to make,” lead chef Bianca explained earlier in the day. “The dishes have so many flavors and elements. It’s a challenge not overcrowding your wok.”
Thai cuisine, we learned, is organically connected to the weather and seasons based on four foundational pillars of flavor: salty, sour, spicy and sweet. This organizational approach extends to technique, too. “There’s a rhythm to cooking,” Bianca says. “It’s about preparation – having things close by and adjusting as need be.”
A similar philosophy of careful planning combined with creative flexibility applies to the overarching concept behind Thai & Techno. The organizers strive to act as a platform for underground DJs and artists, highlighting melodic ambient music accompanied by a modern take on traditional Thai food. The members of Opal Collective know that their events are niche, but the idea is obviously working. “Berlin was ready for it,” says Bianca. “This is a super creative city and it’s still very young. It’s creating a new identity. It would have been hard to set this up anywhere else.”
Lunch reaches its pinnacle as the summer rolls disappear from the table and warm bowls of curry begin to appear from the kitchen. For the main entree, we are treated to an Autumn Vegetable Green Curry, served over creamy rice that is gently sweetened with coconut milk. The room is crowded with our team members, who eagerly spoon up pieces of eggplant, fried tofu and sweet potato. Thanks to the addition of both green and red chillis, the dish has a pleasant heat, a fundamental component of Thai cooking. To finish the meal, the chefs serve glasses and ramekins filled with Sweet Black Rice, complete with coconut whipped cream and slivers of fresh corella pears.
Autumn Vegetable Green Curry
Ingredients (for 4 people)
Curry Paste Ingredients
- 1 4 hot green chillis, seeds removed
- 2 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 4 2 tbsp shallots / red onion, diced
- 5 2 lemongrass stalks, tops and bottom removed and roughly chopped
- 6 1 tsp galangal, roughly chopped
- 7 1 tsp ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 8 1 tsp turmeric, peeled and chopped
- 9 1 tsp shrimp paste
- 10 1⁄2 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 11 1⁄2 tsp whole white peppercorns
- 12 1 tsp sea salt
- To make the curry paste, blend all ingredients together in a deep mortar and pestle, starting with the chillis and salt. Then gradually work in the rest. Avoid putting everything in at the same time or it will take longer to blend.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
- 1 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 1 tbsp curry paste
- 3 400 ml coconut milk
- 4 1-2 tbsp shaved palm sugar (to taste)
- 5 1-2 tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
- 6 1 tsp coriander root, pounded
- 7 5 medium-sized kaffir lime leaves
- 8 80 g Asian eggplant or baby eggplant, diced into 2 cm cubes
- 9 1 handful of Thai mini eggplant
- 10 100 g sweet potato or hokkaido pumpkin, diced into 2 cm cubes
- 11 100 g firm, pre-fried tofu cubes, sliced diagonally in half
- 12 80 g red paprika, sliced
- 13 80 g green courgette, diced into 1 cm cubes
- 14 1⁄4 of a head of white cabbage, thinly sliced
- 15 1 large red chilli, sliced on the diagonal
- 16 1 bunch of Thai sweet basil
- Heat the vegetable oil on low to medium heat. Add curry paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 min).
- Add the coconut milk. Slowly bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Add 1 tbsp of palm sugar and 1 tbsp of fish sauce and stir gently. Once incorporated, test the curry for sweetness and saltiness, adding more palm sugar or fish sauce accordingly.
- Add the coriander root and the kaffir lime leaf. Let the curry simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the Asian/baby eggplant and cook for 5 minutes.
- Then add the Thai eggplant and the sweet potato/pumpkin and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the tofu, paprika and the courgettes and cook for 2 minutes.
- Once all of the vegetables are cooked, turn off the heat and transfer curry to a bowl.
- Garnish with a handful of white cabbage, a few red chillis and a few leaves of Thai sweet basil. Serve with steamed Jasmine rice.
Sticky Black Rice with Corella Pears and Coconut Whipped Cream
Ingredients (for 4 people)
- 1 1 cup glutinous black rice
- 2 2 – 2 1⁄2 cups water
- 3 4 pandan leaves, tied into bows
- 4 2-3 tbsp shaved palm sugar
- 5 1 can coconut milk (400 ml)
- 6 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
- 7 1 corella pear, thinly sliced
- 8 1 cup cream
- 9 1 tbsp white sugar
- Open the can of coconut milk, and remove 100 g of the hardened coconut cream. Set aside in the fridge – you will need it later for the cream.
- Stir the remaining coconut milk and cream until it takes on a thick paste-like consistency. This is what you will use for the rice.
- Add the glutinous rice and 2 cups of water to a medium sized pot, reserving 1⁄2 cup of water to add to the rice later.
- Bring to a boil, add the pandan leaves and then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes, as cooking time varies according to brand. Add water if necessary.
- Check the rice for a soft but slightly chewy texture. Be careful not to overcook, as rice can break easily.
- Add 100 ml of the thick coconut milk, palm sugar and salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are incorporated and let simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness or saltiness as needed. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, beat the cream and white sugar together until soft peaks are formed. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, beat the cold, hardened coconut cream from the fridge until light and fluffy.
- Incorporate the whipped coconut into the whipped cream by gently folding the mixture through.
- To serve, divide the rice into small ramekins, flattening the surfaces.
- Lay 3-4 pieces of freshly sliced pears in a fan shape to one side of the rice, finishing with a dollop of coconut whipped cream on the other.
Thank you, Bianca, Christoph and Danée, for treating us to this delicious meal.