Cooking Thai food in Chiang Mai
A few weekends ago, I embarked on one of the crazier travel decisions of my life – going to Thailand for a mere 3 days (it’s a 9 hr plane flight from Sydney, which is in fact close to essentially no other cities in the world) for a wedding and to reunite with all the people I worked with in Manila. It was more than worth it and definitely one of the best weekends I’ve had in quite a while. The night before the wedding, we all went to a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai and it warrants blogging about because Thai food is so amazing. I adore all Asian cuisine, but if I had to pick a favourite I would probably have to go with Thai (although Japanese and Vietnamese can vie for that spot as well). The variety of spices, stir fry dishes, and noodle dishes are amazing, and to be able to go to a cooking class for Thai food in Thailand was such a great experience.
My favourite thing about cooking classes is they give you all the ingredients and clean up after you, and you get to eat the food and learn how to make it. Normally they are quite expensive, but in Thailand, obviously they are a fraction of the cost than they would be in Sydney or even America. For about $30, we got a 4 hour experience that involved going to a Thai market and making a three course meal in an adorable house with its own herb garden and cooking station set up in the backyard. Amazing!
We started off with this appetizer that involved lettuce leaves, some sauce, and different elements of Thai cooking – salty, sweet, spicy, bitter, etc. You put a bit of each in the lettuce leaf with the sauce and ate it to whet your appetite.
All the ingredients for the four different kinds of curry pastes we made – red, green, Penang (basically red with peanuts), and Massman (involves cool star anise and cinnamon). We used the mortar and pestle to smash up all the ingredients (chilis, shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, etc. depending on the type of curry) into a paste, and then we used the paste along with coconut milk to make our own curries.
Key take-away: If you ever go to Thailand, do a cooking class. And not at a resort or somewhere fancy, but in an actual local area where you can be at someone’s house, learning about the stories and culture behind one of the greatest cuisines in the world. What a fantastic experience!