Thailand Times – Trip 5

My friends are well aware that I enjoy cooking very much. I’m normally pretty happy to feed anyone who comes to visit. I’ve been lucky enough to learn how to cook Indian food courtesy of a friend so I thought, on my travels, why not expand my cooking skills some more?

I undertook a full day course with Thai Kitchen Cookery Centre in Chiang Mai for 850 baht.

You start your cooking day by being collected from your accommodation. You then make a brief stop at the cookery school to choose which dishes you will make. Once you have chosen, you go off to the local market for ingredients!

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One of our teachers, Asmee, explained differences between coconut cream and coconut milk, types of basil, tofu spices, herbs and all kinds of others to things. We were shown around some of the market but were given free time to wander around alone too. The array of things for sale that I did not recognise made me feel a little ashamed. Anyway, the shopping was all done and we piled back into the van with our baskets.

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Back at the school, we cracked straight on with cooking our first dish. You cook independently at one of the wok stations you can see below:

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You’re never without a teacher. They’re on hand to advise on preparing ingredients, wok temperatures and how much of what to use for spicing or salting up your dishes. You can see Aûm here explaining how to prepare sticky rice:

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This is Asmee supervising the pounding of ingredients into a green curry paste:

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Anyway, back to what we cooked. My first dish was Tom Yum soup. The soup is coconut milk based with decent amounts of lemongrass, garlic and ginger added. There’s also shrimp in there and special Tom Yum paste. It’s actually a really simple dish to make once you have sources the ingredients. Here’s the finished thing.

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On the whole day course you cook five savoury dishes and one dessert. I chose to cook green curry paste, green curry, chicken and basil leaves and Pad Thai as my savoury dishes. The method to make green curry was very similar to Tom Yum soup except that you leave it to simmer for much longer and the ingredients are different. Thai green curry is not supposed to be a spicy affair as you would expect a normal curry to be. It’s very mild and quite fragrant. After having a taste of some of the others though, I distinctly prefer massaman curry to green curry.

My absolute favourite dish of the day was the chicken with basil leaves. It was so simple but amazingly tasty! If you see it on the menu at a Thai restaurant, it’s worth ordering! Here’s my green curry and chicken ready for testing/devouring.

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No picture of my Pad Thai exists as I ate it at great speed. Again, it was surprisingly fast and easy to cook. Pad Thai is another dish which is not spicy, you add your own spice to it when it is served in the form of chili oil and flakes so it suits a wide variety of palates.

Lastly there was dessert. I had chosen mango and sticky rice. I adore sticky rice. It is one of the most glorious things you can eat. You have to put in a bit of extra time to prepare it but it’s time well invested. Once the rice has been washed, soaked and cooked (steamed in a cotton bag), you add it to a mix of coconut cream, sugar and a little salt that you’ve had on the boil. You give it a good mash around until it’s properly mixed in and then you serve. Easy peasy!

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It was an incredibly yummy day and to top it off, you get a recipe book containing all food cooked during the day and a certificate to say you did the course. The teachers were friendly and efficient but more importantly they were knowledgeable, they didn’t get stumped by any of our questions.

I really enjoyed the day and, as someone who loves to cook, think it was worth the money. If you’re not a keen cook, there are cheaper  courses you can do in just a half day or few hours in an evening that would probably be a better choice.

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