I love food, and could happily graze all day. If you have met me, I will have probably told you that I eat like a baby Dinosaur. I often think about what I’ll have for breakfast as I go to bed. That’s how into food I am.
As well as eating food, I love to cook, bake and experiment.
As approached my 8th week of travelling in South East Asia, I realised that I hadn’t cooked anything in over 2 months. There really is no need to in Asia. Food is so cheap to eat out all the time, and is so delicious.
However, I love Thai food, and I wanted to learn how to cook it properly. So decided to embark on a new culinary adventure of attending a cooking school.
There are various cooking schools in Chaing Mai, and it is likely that your accommodation will be able to book for you, or recommend a varsity of schools for you.
I choose to go to the Thai Farm Cooking School. An organic cooking school set in the countryside, in Chiang Mai. The cost for a whole day on the farm is 1100 THB, US $34 or £20 (cost correct in July 2014). This is about average pricing for most classes.
What lured me into the tour was that it was held in the countryside, and they had small class sizes. After some busy days in cities such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, I needed a bit of headspace.
On the morning of the class, I was collected from my hostel, by an enthusiastic lady called Puipui. Bundled into the back of a 4×4 Jeep, were we set off for the country.
Stopping on the way at the “Thai supermarket” (a huge indoor food market). Before we went in, we were introduced to our teachers – Puipui and Benny, who were extremely chatty and vivacious.
We explored the market, picking up ingredients for our class. I was in awe of all the colours and wonderful fresh ingredients.
After our venture to the market, we whizzed out of the busy city, and into the country. We arrived at a large section with two wooden and open farmhouses. There was a pond and a large eating area. It was idyllic.
We were given time to relax, have a glass of water and look around. Then we had a tour of the farm, were we tried several herbs and veggies.
“Never try. Never know”
Puipui was very keen on us trying everything, and used the phrase Never try. Never know, all the time. So I tried a fair bit.
The next stage, was the exciting stage; moving into the kitchen, for cooking time! I felt like a chef on a cooking show!
The first dish on the agenda was our starter. I choose to cook Thai Vegetable Soup.
We all had a little cooking station, and whilst we were out picking herbs, the rest of the team set up trays with all the ingredients we needed. We were shown step by step what to do, and within 15 minutes, we were sat down enjoying a bowl of soup. Incredibly tasty and easy to make.
Course one, check.
After this was made, we all sat down to enjoy it together, whilst our stations were cleared and the next set of ingredients laid out for us.
The next course was the mains (our lunch!) I choose to cook yellow Thai curry, with chicken, only as I had never tried it before. The second main dish was Chicken in Cashew nuts. A very simple and safe choice, but a favourite of mine.
First we learnt how to make the curry paste. My ingredients included simply chilli, ginger, and turmeric. We then pounded it up with a proper mortal and pestle and viola, in 5 minutes or less, the curry paste was done. Puipui was very keen on us adding as much chilli as possibly, as “More Chilli, More Fun” and “More Chilli, More Sexy.”
It was also mandatory to do some hip wiggling (“sexy moves”) whilst ponding the curry paste!
My curry contained pumpkin, potato, basil, and Lemongrass, which was stir fried with the chicken, and curry paste. The coconut milk was added last, and that’s how you make curry. Incredibly simple and easy. I may never cook curry from a jar again.
The stir fry chicken with cashew nuts, was again very simple. A quick in and out of the pan job, and done in 5 minutes.
We then sat down to eat our creations, with rice already prepared in a rice cooker, which I was disappointed with, as I am really bad at cooking rice, and would have liked to cook it properly in a pan. I was however pleased with my culinary efforts of making all these dishes.
We had over an hour to eat our meal, and chat at the dining table, as well as wander around the grounds. Then it was back in the kitchen, for the last and final course. I thought I would explode, with so much food.
Again I choose to cook a few dishes I had grown to love; Pad Thai and Sticky Mango Rice.
The Pad Thai was relatively simple, and even though it contained a good helping of fish sauce (I’m not a fan of fish), it was delicious.
The sticky rice was already prepared, so we made the sauce which was coconut milk with Asian palm sugar and a pinch of salt. This was mixed in with the rice, then the mango set on top. Its seriously delicious. If you’ve not tried it.
In the end, I ate the sticky rice, but took the Pad Thai back to my hostel to have much later. I’ve never eaten so much food in one sitting.
At the end of our day, we were given a recipe book, with not only the dishes we had made, but various others as well.
Overall, I had an enjoyable day, full of food and gaining new skills, which I intend to practice at home. I can highly recommend the Thai Farm Cooking School, for a great and educational day out of the city, where you will be amazed at how easy it is to cook Thai food from scratch – with not a jar of sauce in sight!