I’ve had my fair share of full day feasts. I started practicing how to survive these events while growing up at any kind of Chinese family gathering. Copious amounts of food was required just as much as your presence. I thought I had perfected this skill while I was in Italy during the many – MANY gatherings where food seemed to be never ending, and yet everything was always eaten. But nothing could have prepared me for a 7 hour thai cooking school experience.
Ever since my old flatmate Meghan’s sister came over to make us some proper thai curry that she learned how to make at a thai cooking school, I had always wanted to learn as well. Lucky for me, Nathan beat me to the punch and found a place called Siam Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai. For 900 baht (almost $30 USD), we signed up for the full day cooking course. There was a half day course option (700 baht/$23 USD), but being that we are both foodies, we were ready to learn as much as we could. We had no idea what we were in store for.
We were picked up from our place and taken straight to a local market. There, a teaching assistant from the cooking school introduced us to the most common ingredients used in Thai cooking to learn a bit. Since many of the ingredients are similar to those used in Vietnamese cooking, I knew what most of it was. One new thing I did learn though was what thais refer to as coconut milk vs what we call coconut milk. The cans of coconut milk we are used to getting at the asian stores back home is what they consider coconut cream. In order to make it coconut milk, you reduce it by adding half the amount of water. This makes it, well more lack of better word, milky. It’s thinner in substance and becomes more translucent in color.
The sausage looking roll is a local specialty. Essentially it’s a sausage made with plenty of lemongrass and other spices. Nathan bought a roll so we could try it…all I could taste was an overwhelming amount of garlic and lemongrass that leaves your mouth feeling like you should never be allowed to kiss or breath on anyone ever again.
Pork Rinds also seemed to be a specialty at this particular market. Every other stall was making them fresh, selling them plain, or with other spices.
For me, my favorite part was watching the women make floral arrangements.
But soon after our tour and some free time, we headed back to the cooking school. Our class was small (about 10) and we were introduced to our teacher, Mink. We were instructed to pick our our menu..for the half day folks (which was everyone except Nathan and I), they were allowed to choose 3 dishes + learn how to make a curry paste. That meant for us full day folk, we picked 6 courses.
– Papaya Salad
– Tom Yum Soup (Coconut chicken soup)
– Pud-kee-mao (Drunken noodles)
– Pud Ga-Prao Gai Sap (Holy basil chicken)
– Curry paste
– Pumpkin Curry (northern style)
– Sticky Rice with Young Coconut
A full menu and busy day that’s for sure. When we weren’t cooking, we were eating, which was roughly 10-15 minutes between cooking time. And while the portions we were cooking were for individual servings, all together it was massive. Any of the dishes could be made vegetarian, as there was one girl who was vegetarian in our group. The ingredients for all the dishes were already portioned out for us, we just learned how to cut and prepare them. Our cooking dishes were taken away and cleaned before I could even turn around to check, and Mink kept a watchful eye on us. I managed to keep my hair singe-free during some firery cooking episodes, and even learned some new cooking techniques.
It was a day full of laughs, our instructor was funny, our group was fun, and the food was tasty. As part of the full day course Nathan and I even learned how to create some fancy garnishes (lotus flowers out of onions and roses out of tomatoes). At the end we got a little certificate a book full of recipes. So as soon as I get some more free time, I’ll post the recipes from today. You can read about Nathan’s day and see some hilarious photos of my terrifying encounter making drunken noodles. Thanks Siam Thai for an amazing day!