Thai Cooking School while in Chiang Mai was one of our favorite things we did on the whole trip. The food was delicious, the cooking was fun, we had a hilarious tour guide & we met some incredible people. We had planned to do a trekking day but after our full day with the elephants we knew we wanted something a little lower key. We called the travel agent we had booked the trek with & begged for a switch. They thankfully obliged and booked for us one of the best days we had in Thailand at the Siam Rice Thai Cookery School & gave us some money back for the difference.
We were picked up around 9 from our hostel in a Chiang Mai taxi, which is a truck, with it's truck bed converted into bench style seating, the optimal get close and cozy to your new friends experience. We first met Allen from the Phillippines. He was awesome. We loved getting to know him. He owns a restaurant a little outside of Manilla and we are determined to one day eat there.
Next up we met the lovely Karolien & Alex, as they piled into the car. They were from Belguim and on the end leg of a 6 month backpacking trip through Asia, New Zealand and Australia. They got us super interested in doing a farm stay in New Zealand one day. Not to mention, we're pretty much sold on seeing them again in Belgium. They were wonderful. I could have hung out with this girl all day long!
We made sure to ask all their tips on saving for a back packing trip!
As we drove around Chiang Mai to pick up each new person, we had plenty of time to chat and get to know each other.
After we were all piled in we made our way to a local market to explore all the new veggies we would use in our dishes. Our guide explained to us the difference between coconut cream & coconut milk. Coconut cream is... and coconut milk is. Let me just say, after using coconut milk the majority of my life, I am now obsessed with the thick, creamy coconut cream. Yum!
He then introduced us to some new vegetables that are foreign to our western markets like keffir lime, galgal, several types of basil and lemon grass.
Thankfully, for those in the States, these ingredients can be found fresh in Asian markets and dried at most major groceries. For those of us in China, we have to improvise on some of the ingredients.
After, our brief shopping into we were free to roam around the market and take pictures for a few minutes. And of course buy a Thai Iced Coffee.
After the market we headed off to the cooking school, which was really just a house with out door kitchens.
Once we arrived, we set down and looked over our "menu" of cooking options. We could choose 6 dishes and 1 curry. The 6 dishes included a curry, a noodle, a stir fry, soup, dessert and an appetizer. Zachary and I made sure to each choose something different so we could learn how to make & enjoy 12 recipes instead of just 6.
Our guide for the day
For each course, the ingredients to all of our dishes were brought out on a plate and our guide taught us, ingredient by ingredient, how to prepare them.
All of the dishes were surprisingly easy and took barely any time to cook. This explains why everything in Thai eating tastes & looks so fresh!
We prepared two dishes, and then made our way to the table to enjoy them.
After, we finished eating, we'd head back to the cutting boards to prepare the next two.
Cook. Eat. Cook. Eat. Cook. Eat.
First up, we prepared & cooked Pad Thai for me & Drunken Noodles for Zachary.
Luckily, all the guys choose drunken noodles, which turned out to be a great surprise for them.
Alex & Zachary
Alan from the Philippines.
The guys enjoyed the fire show while cooking their drunken noodles! I'm not quite sure how we will cook this noodle dish at home but I'm sure we'll try it!
Next up, we made our curry pastes. This is a super labor intensive process! You have to pound, pound, pound and pound the ingredients until it makes a paste. Our guide told us there is a saying in Thailand that if you walk by a woman's house and you can hear the sound of her mortal and pestle she will make a good wife.
After our curry pastes were ready we prepared the ingredients for our curries & headed to the stoves. The curries, of all the dishes, took the longest to make, but still only took around 10 minutes.
Massaman curry for me.
The extra spices that are added to Massaman to give it it's unique flavor
Pumpkin Curry Northern Style
For our third dish I made holy basil with chicken and Zachary made our favorite, chicken with cashew nut.
To take a break from all of the eating and to help give our bodies time to clear space in our happy bellies for the next round of dishes our guide taught us how to cut onion flowers.
Me and Z's super beautiful flowers. ;)
Next up we made our soups. Yummmm. They were delicious! Are you noticing a trend here?!
Tom Yum Nam Kang for me
Chicken Coconut Soup for Zachary
Last we made the appetizers and desserts.
For my appetizer I choose the classic Thai spring roll. These also took a little longer to make than the other dishes because of the multiple steps involved in making them.
First we prepared the ingredients for the spring roll filling & cooked it. After letting it cool we pulled out the spring roll wrappers and placed the filling in the middle.
Once the filling was inside we used egg to seal the rolls up and took them on for the frying.
Zachary graciously did the frying for me.
Zachary made the green mango salad for his appetizer. It was delicious & so refreshing.
One of my favorite desserts while in Thailand was the mango and sticky rice, other than the coconut ice cream of course. I was excited to see what all was included in making mango sticky rice. When you taste it, it's obvious, there's alot more goodness than just mango and rice in it. It was super easy & I will for sure have to make it at home!
Zachary made pumpkin in coconut milk to give us something new to try. It was also delicious, naturally.
We were all heck-a full at the end of the day but super happy!
The food we made tasted better than we had tasted anywhere else, too! It's awesome to know that we can cook such delicious Thai food at home for ourselves even outside of Thailand!
After 6 hours of cooking & laughing we were given a certificate of our completion & a book with all the recipes taught at the school! Score! I can't wait to try to make some of them at home! And don't worry! I'll be sharing with you some of our favorites which just happens to be everything we made!