Thai Cooking Class

This is a post by David

Greetings from Chiang Mai, Thailand! We’ve been here for a few days and we’re finally getting comfortable with this city. Yesterday we went to a Thai cooking class and learned to make some traditional Thai dishes. The cooking school was called Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School and they were great.

Our instructor, Palm, picked us up at your guesthouse first thing in the morning and we drove to the school for some green tea. We then met up with the rest of the students (there were seven of us in total) and walked to the local market. It was great to go with a Thai woman because the markets can be very confusing to us farangs (foreigners). It was exactly what you expect: an indoor/outdoor market with lots of stalls selling all sorts of veggies and meats that we’ve never seen before. Palm was great and she explained what everything was and how to pick the best rice and produce.

Rice in the market
Did you know there were this many types of rice?
Jenny at the market
Jenny at the market

When we got back to the school, Palm took us to the kitchen garden and showed us all the ingredients that they grow on site. There was lemon grass, spicy basil, sweet basil, a banana tree, kaffir limes, and even a bamboo shed filled with oyster mushrooms growing out of little sacks.

We picked out our meals and got to cooking. The kitchen is outdoors but under a roof and there were several burners, woks, mortars, and a low table where you sit cross legged to eat.

Palm teaches David and Alex
Palm teaches David and Alex

We got to pick which dishes we wanted to cook, and there were no shortage of options. Jenny and I made:

  • pad thai (of course)
  • pad see ew
  • green curry paste
  • panang curry paste
  • green curry
  • panang curry
  • spring rolls
  • glass noodle salad
  • tom yum soup
  • coconut milk soup
  • sweet rice with mango
Using the mortar and pestle
Palm showing Jenny and Alex how to use the mortar: "you must be like a Thai woman in the market"

After we made a few dishes, everyone sat together at the table and ate and shared lunch. It was all highly delicious. Jenny and I signed up for a full day of instruction, as did a French guy named Alex. Everyone else only had a half day so they left after lunch while we got back into the kitchen. Since there were only three of us left it was effectively a private lesson. It was a lot of work but it paid off! We paid 900 Baht each for the day, which is about $30 USD, and we walked away with more food than we could possibly eat. We even got an ingredient book and cookbook.

Panang Curry
The fruits of our labor - panang curry and coconut milk soup

Palm was wonderful and she really made the class. She was super helpful and funny. Here are some of her words of wisdom (to be read with a Thai accent):

  • on cooking: “You must cook with emotion. Thai women are very emotional.”
  • when using fish sauce: “Use your emotion. If you are too emotional then I cannot help you. You will have salty curry.”
  • on how much chili to use: “We say spicy is sexy. David is most sexy guy.”
  • on using the mortar and pestle: “You must be angry to make beautiful curry paste. More angry, more beautiful.”
Chilis in the market
Bags of hot peppers in the market - spicy is sexy!

Overall the class was great and I would definitely recommend this school to anyone. And the fun didn’t stop there. Palm invited us to go out after class with her and another instructor. We went to a restaurant, watched a band play, ate desert, and just chatted for a while. Thais are very friendly and they love to eat – those are my kind of people!

Group photo
Smiling faces and full bellies
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