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They gave Tom a cleaver, what did they expect to happen?
Cooking up a storm at the Baan Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
We are big foodies here at Five Dollar Traveller, and there is nothing like learning how to cook the local cuisine yourself! Don’t learn when you get home… learn from the locals and get to know the inside tips and tricks that make those special dishes taste superb.
Cooking classes are available all over SE Asia and we hope to attend more on our future travels, they are inexpensive, a lot of fun, and best of all you get to eat everything you make!
read more to hear about our first time cooking Thai cuisine at the source…..
After arriving in Chiang Mai we booked ourselves for a Traditional Thai cooking class. There are many different options but as we were a little limited on time that day we went with the Baan Thai Cooking school 1. Because they offered a night time class from 4:30pm – 8:30pm (700baht p/p all inclusive – $24) and 2. because the list of meals to make looked awesome.
We were picked up from our guesthouse in a Songathew and jumped in the back to be greeted with our fellow chefs which turned out to be 4 Aussie girls from Melbourne and an English chick from Manchester…..not the most multicultural group but all really nice people :-)
On arrival we all sat on the floor around a table where we got to select the meals we would like to make. With the evening course we had to choose 4 meal options: starter, soup, main course, curry paste, and then depending on which curry paste you chose that determined which curry you would make too.
Our Market guide “Gay”
We all then walked to the local market to learn about the local produce in Thailand. Our guide “Gay” (who assured us she wasn’t gay, just Gay, with a smirk on her face) was really great, she was funny, involved us in guessing what different produce was, also taste testing different herbs etc which we may not have seen or used in cooking before. She explained the difference between the produce and how Thai’s use it all to create their meals including about 5 different unique varieties of basil (who knew there were that many!).
After a quick look around the market we headed back to the Cooking school to start our first meal. Tom and I decided to choose completely opposite meals as we felt it was a bit of a waste of time learning the same thing….and we also received a cook book to take home so we can try any of the other dishes at home. We also were given sexy aprons (not to keep) to wear so our clothes didn’t get dirty.
Stir fry prawns – indian/Thai fusion
First Course: Meg Pad Thai and Tom Stir-fry Curry Prawns.
We were separated into 2 groups for this. At the main table all of the necessary ingredients were set out and the instructors went through telling us exactly how much was needed for the dish, then once everything was diced, sliced and properly separated we headed out the back to our individual woks.
Here we learnt how much heat, cooking oil and sauces were needed and also instructed on the correct way of putting together the meals…..it is actually really really easy and quick to make any of these dishes!
After completion of our first meals it was back to the table to eat up!!! As Tom and I chose different things we met up and tried a bit of each others dishes.
Second Meal: Meg Chicken and Coconut Soup with Spring Rolls, Tom Spicy “Tom yum Kung” Sour Soup with Thai Fish Cakes
Once again we were separated but we went into opposite rooms this time where we had different instructors who naturally teach a little differently. With the first meal the instructor preferred us to watch first and then do but with Gay who I had second, she just throws you right in there….and this works really well also. Once again both surprisingly easy to make I discovered i am AWESOME at making spring rolls!!!
I wasn’t the biggest fan of my soup as it really was just a big bowl of coconut with some chicken and chilli added……Tom’s was really nice though (Tom yum Kung – Hot & Sour prawn soup), and he made some yummy fishcakes although they didn’t exactly turn out to be the right shape.
Everyone had a turn with the mortar to
grind the curry paste.
Third Meal: Red Curry paste and Khao Soi
We both had chosen to make the Khao Soi as its awesome and all the curry pastes are made in a similar way so if you can make one you can make them all.
The Curry paste had to be a team effort as it was a bit of a longer process. It was a big process of pulverising large red chilli’s and also crushing up heaps of different herbs in a mortar and pestle.
Mashing coconut milk by hand
We did find it interesting that the way they get coconut milk is to soak a bag of shredded coconut in water for a while and then knead the bag to get a mixture of coconut and water which made coconut milk. (we really thought coconut milk was what you found inside a coconut but this is more of a coconut water)
Then the cooking of the Khao Soi began which was a little trickier than the previous meals as everything had a very specific order to when it needed to be added. But we got though it and YUMMY!!! Oh I will be making this for sure when we get home!!!
The final curry + well earned Beer!
By the end of all of the dishes we had made we were stuffed full to the brim and needed to be rolled home. Luckily the cooking school also gives you a lift back to your hotel and Tom and I with our exceptionally full bellies collapsed in bed and couldn’t move till morning.
– To enjoy this class, just head into any tour office in Chiang Mai and book it! or take a look at the website http://www.cookinthai.com/
If you need somewhere to stay in Chiang Mai I find these guys have a great selection of accommodation: HotelsCombined
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