Royalty just left Los Angeles. Now it's coming again. The royal personage arriving this week is chef McDang (real name ML Sirichalerm Svasti) of the Thai royal family.

Not content to rest on regal laurels, McDang has become a culinary celebrity in Thailand, appearing regularly on TV and radio, writing newspaper columns and producing a stream of cookbooks and restaurant guides in Thai and English. Over there, he's as well known as Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay are here (and he's appeared on both of their shows.)

On this trip, there won't be any barricades or hovering helicopters to protect him, because he wants to mingle with the public. That means you, if you sign up for his class this Friday, July 29th, at Thailand Plaza Restaurant in Hollywood. After the class, he'll sign copies of his book, The Principles of Thai Cookery.

Every year, McDang teaches at Le Cordon Bleu culinary schools across the country, sent by Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is the first time he'll give a public demo.

Friday's event is $40, including the class and a buffet lunch. The book, which is based on his Cordon Bleu classes, is extra. The dishes he'll demonstrate are a timbale of curry fish mousse, grilled marinated pork shoulder with fresh mango salsa and tuna carpaccio with larb dressing.

In the book, McDang explains that larb is not the name of a dish but a cooking term, applied to any kind of chopped, cooked protein combined with a Thai vinaigrette.

“You can make larb with anything,” he says. “Even lizards.” What, you don't have lizards on hand? No problem. You can make larb with duck instead.

Chef McDang's Thai cooking class is 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday (July 29) at Thailand Plaza Restaurant, 5321 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. For information, call (626) 571-8222. Or email

Warm Ground Duck Salad, or Larb Ped

From The Principles of Thai Cookery, by chef McDang.

Serves: 4

¼ cup water

400 grams (slightly less than 1 pound) ground duck breast meat

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon lime or tamarind juice

2 teaspoons ground dried Thai chiles

½ cup peeled shallots, thinly sliced

¼ cup sawtooth coriander leaves (available in some Thai markets), chopped

¼ cup green onions, chopped

¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons ground toasted raw rice

¼ cup mint leaves, for garnish

10 deep-fried small dried chiles, for garnish

1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the ground duck and stir to cook quickly for about 2 minutes so that it separates into small pieces but remains pink. Remove from heat.

2. Using the saucepan as a salad bowl, dress the duck meat with fish sauce, lime or tamarind juice and ground dried chiles to taste. It should be equally salty and sour, plus spicy from the heat of the chiles.

3. Once the correct taste profile is achieved, toss in the shallots, sawtooth coriander, green onions and cilantro leaves. Add the ground rice and mix well. The rice will thicken the dressing and add a toasty aroma.

4. Spoon the salad onto a plate and garnish with mint leaves and fried chiles.

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