One of my favourite things about travelling is all of the delicious food available. Thailand is famous for its cuisine and I was keen to learn how to cook Thai food. I’d seen cooking classes all through Thailand but the Asia Scenic one in Chiang Mai had been recommended so I booked that one.
The transport collected me from my accommodation at 8.30am so I was one of the first to arrive at the workshop. I’d opted for the full day cooking class which cost 1000 baht – I think the half day cost 800 baht so there wasn’t a huge difference in price.
Once everyone had arrived, our teacher for the day, Juno, introduced himself and went through all of the menu options for the day. We would be making 7 dishes, of which 6 we had multiple options. I partly chose mine based on lack of spicy because I’m a real wuss with spicy foods.
We broke bread at the table, which is supposed to be lucky – it basically involved putting food into a huge leaf then wrapping it up and eating it.
Juno showed the group how to make sticky rice in a woven basket as we’d be using it for mango with sticky rice later in the day.
The group headed into the garden where Juno showed us a selection of herbs and vegetables that the cooking school grows themselves. I found this really interesting as many of the herbs and vegetables are not generally used in UK cooking, or looked completely different.
The group headed to the market to buy some of the ingredients we’d be using during the course of the day. There were some unusual things there, some of which we wouldn’t be using.
The first dish of the day was a stir fry dish. I’d chosen to make Pad Thai because (1) it’s not spicy, and (2) it’s what I’d been living off in Thailand and I kind of wanted to know how to cook it. Pad Thai was not-so-surprisingly easy to make, and basically amounted to throwing all the ingredients into a pan and stir-frying. Once cooked, we ate immediately.
Next up, we made 2 dishes simultaneously. We all made spring rolls and salad. The spring rolls were all the same – there was no option to change the filling. I found it was trickier than it looked to roll it. We had a few different options for our salad option. I chose the papaya salad because I’d seen it on a lot of menus around Thailand and wanted to try it. The dressing for the papaya salad was made with a pestle and mortar which took me back a few years to my lab days. I put my salad together and added the dressing, then went to deep fry my spring roll.
After eating pad Thai, papaya salad and a spring roll all within an hour, the group slipped into a food coma until the afternoon cooking session.
In the afternoon session, the first thing we did was prepare ingredients for our soup dishes. I was making coconut milk soup. Once prepared, we left them on our cooking station and started to prepare our curry paste. We were making the paste from scratch so we had to crush all the ingredients together with a large stone pestle and mortar. We made a batch of red curry paste and a batch of green curry paste, taking it in turns to crush the ingredients.
Once the curry paste was ready, it was time to make our desserts. I had chosen mango with sticky rice. Juno showed us how to mix the sticky rice with coconut milk to make it sweet. The dessert was left to cool while we made our curries and soup.
The curries and soups were made by basically putting everything into a pan and letting it simmer.
The best part was eating the three dishes once they’d all been cooked. My personal favourites of the day were the red curry (honestly the best curry I’ve ever eaten) and the mango sticky rice (because I have a sweet tooth).
Overall, the day was fantastic. I learned a lot about Thai food and was pleasantly surprised at how easy most of the dishes were to cook. Our teacher, Juno, was lovely and very helpful. All of the dishes were delicious and I’m glad that Asia Scenic gave each of us a cookbook at the end of the day so I can cook these dishes again when I’m next in a kitchen.