When we first made the huge decision to journey around the world our route was based on a number of key experiences. We plotted these bucket list items on a map and basically joined the dots. Fairly high up on the list for me was learning to cook in Thailand and I was beyond excited when I finally got my chance.

My cooking station

My cooking station

I love to cook and as wonderful as it is eating out every day, I have really missed my kitchen. I’ve never managed to master Thai dishes and felt it was important to learn the real techniques needed so I don’t have to continue relying on ready made pastes and sauces. As you all know, Paul loves to eat . However, he is fairly allergic to cooking so I would be going to cooking school solo. The best Thai cooking courses can be found in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and since we were based in Chiang Mai for 10 days I picked one of the many excellent schools in the city. Siam Rice runs both a full day and evening only class for no more than 8 people. I opted for the full day and my group consisted of a great bunch of girls and one honeymooning couple, we had an absolute blast.

 

Getting started - a lot of nervous looking faces

Getting started – a lot of nervous looking faces

The day starts with a trip to the market to pick up supplies and educate the group about the vegetables and spices we would be using that day in our different dishes. It was amazing to learn about the subtle differences certain Thai ingredients have. Thai ginger for example tastes completely different to what we get in the UK.

 

Our extensive menu

Our extensive menu

On arriving at the school we were presented with an extensive menu of dishes to choose from. We had 6 courses to cook and each course had a minimum of 4 options (the curry course had 10!) We all decided to make as many alternatives as possible so we’d get a decent variety of tasting samples. We’d cook 2 courses at a time and then sit and sample the wares. Anything we didn’t eat could be packaged up and taken away, Paul was a happy boy when I turned up with a full bag of Thai takeout later that day!

 

Soup 

I opted for Tom Yum soup, hot and sour with either chicken or shrimp. The first thing that amazed me was the speed in which it could be created. The preparation takes a little time but my soup was ready in 15 minutes, when I make soup at home it can take hours! Tom Yum is spicy and flavoursome but really light and refreshing.

 

The ingredients for Tom Yum soup

The ingredients for Tom Yum soup

Noodles

I opted for Pad Khee Moo or drunken noodles as our chef called them. They were a delicious concoction consisting of chicken with a ton of vegetables in a yummy sauce made from soy and oyster sauce with a loads of fiery chillis. It was absolutely scrumptious and ready to be served in 5 minutes. The big surprise with drunken noodles is that we had to heat the wok to smoking at the end of cooking and then splash a little water in to produce ridiculous flames, it gave the dish a wonderful char-grilled taste.

Drunken noodles before

Drunken noodles before

Check out the look on my face! Drunken noodles nearly ready

Check out the look on my face! Drunken noodles nearly ready

Yummy drunken noodles

Yummy drunken noodles

Curry

Most people went for medium spicy curries but I decided to go the whole hog and cook the spiciest on the menu, the jungle curry. This is chicken based with a lot more veggies than some and I added 17 additional Birds Eye chillis (our instructor told me that traditionally they would add up to 40 chillis!). The unique thing about this curry is it has no coconut milk which is featured in most Thai curries.

 

Start of curry paste

Start of curry paste

You can easily make a curry paste in a blender but we did it the old fashioned way with a pestle and mortar and man it was hard work. A good 15 minutes pounding away resulted in a fiery paste that made my hands feel like they were ablaze. It wasn’t as horrendously hot as I expected but still a bit too much for a whole bowl full. I love really spicy food but 17 chillis is quite a lot!

 

My finished jungle curry paste

My finished jungle curry paste

Stir fry

I opted for chicken in cashews which is one of Paul’s favourites and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make, another 5 minute dish and this ended up being my favourite of the day. Again the main wet ingredients are soy, fish and oyster sauces – so simple to recreate.

 

Chicken and cashew in progress

Chicken and cashew in progress

Chicken and cashew nut stir fry

Chicken and cashew nut stir fry

Appetiser

Next up were spring rolls which were actually a lot easier to make than expected. Most of the work is in the preparation of the vegetables but the rolling and cooking was pretty simple and they tasted amazing. I also imagined having to deep fry something like this but we simply put a few centimetres of oil the wok and cooked them on a high heat. When I get home I’m going to make large batches of spring rolls to freeze for snacks.

 

Ingredients for spring rolls

Ingredients for spring rolls

The finished product - yum!

The finished product – yum!

Dessert

I choose probably the most famous Thai dessert of all, mango with sticky rice. It’s like the most decadent rice pudding you will ever taste, sticky rice cooked with coconut milk and served with a side of sweet mango, mmm. Again, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make. The most challenging bit is getting the rice to the right level of stickiness, you have to steam the rice for around 25 minutes but apparently it can be very easy to overcook.

 

It may look boring but it's absolutely scrummy - mango with sticky rice

It may look boring but it is absolutely scrummy – mango with sticky rice

 

Key points I have taken away from my course

[list style=”arrow”]

 

    • Most of the dishes are incredibly simple and you don’t need to be Nigella to recreate them, the depth of flavour is deceptive as to how much works goes into the dish.
    • I need to cook Thai food on much higher temperatures for a lot less time
    • Many dishes use the same ingredients so you don’t need to spend a fortune. For instance, most curries use exactly the same base with a few extra ingredients added to make them unique.
    • Balance of ingredients and understanding them individually is key. To make something saltier, spicier or sweeter is very easy you just need to experiment with the various sauces.[/list]

 

Carving a lotus flower from an onion in between courses

Carving a lotus flower from an onion in between courses

We had such a great time, our instructor was young and so much fun but also really knew his stuff. I now feel like I could comfortably recreate all of these dishes at home and plan on many a Thai banquet on our return.

I didn’t receive any discounts or freebies from Siam Rice, I just loved my experience!

 

If this post is making your mouth water please let us know by either clicking the heart or leaving a comment below

 

16 Responses

  1. Phil

    Chicken and cashew with some spring rolls for me, thanks! It all looks delicious. Fair enough, I couldn’t handle the chillis, but it looks great and sounds like a fantastic experience!

    Brother Dayton only needs a tin opener and microwave to cook up his ‘delicacies’. He should have got his skinny backside along!

    Reply
    • Maddie

      I told him just as much but he gets all of a fluster in the kitchen! Plus it was good fun to head off on my own for something, we had a great group of people.

      Reply
    • Maddie

      I could highly recommend Siam Rice, another one I heard great things about is Red Chilli. They are such good value for money and the food is delectable 🙂

      Reply
  2. Alissa

    Great post, we are headed to Chiang Mai in 2 weeks, I’m going to definitely check out a class!

    Reply
    • Maddie

      You will have so much fun, it’s impossible not too. They are incredibly cheap for what you get too, completely backpacker budget friendly.

      Reply
  3. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Looks like you had an amazing time! I have taken 2 cooking classes in Thailand and they could not have been more dissimilar; we made the same number of dishes in both (different dishes, though) and one class lasted maybe 2 hours, whereas the other was nearly 5! I loved the depth that the longer class went into and I felt I learned a lot of theory, but I also walked away feeling like the dishes involved a lot of prep and was slightly dubious as to whether I’d really try them at home. The other one had less background info, but I loved how quickly the dishes came together (& I already had the foundation from the other course). This sounds like a good balance and like you learned a lot. I feel like I need to save my pennies for cooking classes outside of Thailand, but maybe I’ll check this out if we hit Chiang Mai!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (& More!) About: The Philippine IslandsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Maddie

      I was really worried that the dishes would be uber-complicated and I wouldn’t stand a chance of recreating them at home but they were genuinely very simple. Thai food is probably my favourite Asian cuisine so I was determined to try and master some things. You won’t regret it if you try another course 😉

      Reply
  4. Laura

    Just read all about your food feel very hungry now but feel whatever i eat will not compare to the photos!

    Reply
  5. Sarah Somewhere

    Yum! I miss Thai food! What a great selection of dishes you made, they all look delish! I did one in Bangkok a few years back, and loved the way they prepared all the ingredients for us like our very own cooking show. If only t was like that at home… Btw, mango sticky rice, OMG how I miss thee!! well done Maddie 🙂
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Livin’ the High Life at El TajMy Profile

    Reply
    • Maddie

      I’m getting my revenge on all of your fish taco/every other delicious thing in mexico Instagrams 😉 I’m already missing Thai food and it’s only been a month, we’re planning an eatathon when we stop in Bangkok at the end of June!

      Reply
    • Maddie

      The food in Thailand has been our favourite in Asia so far and I can’t wait to cook up a storm at home!! We’re hoping we’ll be able to source most of the ingredients but our course instructor were really helpful in pointing out alternatives if we can’t.

      Reply
    • Maddie

      Thai food is probably our favourite in all of South East Asia, I just never get bored. I’d been merrily eating all of these dishes in restaurants/street stalls wondering if I could make them myself, the fact that they are so simple is amazing! You’ll have a great time.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge