Since moving to Thailand there have been several aspects that I most appreciate about living here. One of the highest on the list is the food. When I walk through a market I pass stall after stall of people selling souvenirs and knick-knacks, but I know from quite a distance away when the food section is approaching. The aroma is magnificent and leads you to the mouth watering array of food. The spices, which we either do not have in the U.S. or just use way too little of, send your nostrils flaring and hankering for more. You start to crave the food from the multitude of stalls lining the streets. Your brain may have a fear of getting terribly ill, but the aromatic smells of the various food carts draw you in.
The only problem is I'm kind of a homebody. I don't always want to go walk around looking for street food or go to a sit-down restaurant. And I like to cook. There are wonderful produce markets in Thailand which solely sell ingredients for you to cook at home. However, I quickly found that the fruit and veggies here are not like the ones in the U.S. One of them is called dragon fruit! Sick name, but how do I use it? The markets are filled with these mystery fruits and vegetables that I can’t identify and wouldn’t know where to start in preparing it for consumption. For example, we learned that Thai eggplant is green, not purple, and looks more like a baby watermelon. The good news is Thailand has market tours and cooking classes to learn about the local produce and how to use it.
We signed up with The Best Thai Cooking School, mainly because it worked well with our work schedule. Most of the companies in Chiang Mai have amazing reviews and the class often includes a market tour and a cooking class. Our market tour was quick, our guide showed us the vegetables, spices, and sauces we would be using for the meals that they had planned. Then we were off to an organic farm located approximately 30 minutes north of Chiang Mai, where the cooking class would be held. The grounds were gorgeous and beautifully kept. The class took place in a giant gazebo, allowing us to see the pond in the back, the mountains in the distance, and the beautiful green landscapes which fill Northern Thailand.
Our instructor was a very fun man named Sam. He told us that he was born in Chiang Mai and just recently got into being a cook. Apparently he had raced downhill full suspension bikes before, so he is a man of many talents. He took his time explaining the steps and reviewed as many times as necessary. It was relatively simple to make each of the dishes if you knew what you were doing. After an explanation and a demonstration from Sam he would set us up in front of our own skillet and let us get to work. Summer, Haley, and I made different dishes from each available category, so we could have the most recipes between the three of us.
Between the three of us we made the following dishes:
- Pad Thai
- Red Curry
- Green Curry
- Phanaeng Curry
- Stir fried Vegetables
- Cashew Chicken
- Holy Basil
- Mango sticky rice
- Papaya Salad
Every dish turned out to be delicious and relatively easy to make. The curry paste was the most challenging, but absolutely worth it. It required a lot of spices to be mashed together, but as soon as the spice mixture was made it was just a matter of adding coconut milk and veggies.
The cooking class was $28 for 5 hours and a lot of fun. It was a great experience and Sam even showed us how to burn our house down (see photo below). For anyone interested in the food here in Thailand I highly recommend taking a Thai cooking class. I’m not sure about the other cooking classes, but Best Thai Cooking School gave us a great cookbook to bring home too. It’s like they knew we would forget everything after 2 days.