Last week, I told you about our introduction to the outstanding and most lovely Chiang Mai. What a beautiful town. I also told you how Thai food was so delicious that surely, it would kill you!
In Part 1 , I introduced you to all the yummy features of Thai food. The simple fact is that we loved Thai food so much that we decided to learn how to cook it!
In that wise, we decided to do some research on cookery schools in Chiang Mai and decided to go with a splendid cooking school called Thai Secret Cooking School.
I’m not the best of cooks. In fact, although I love eating wonderful food and I have a whole bookshelf of cookery books. I CAN’T COOK!
“You can’t cook?”
Well, I can boil an egg. Ha! Ha!
I can also make a mean shepherds pie and at a push, yorkshire pudding. And to be honest, my friends put their lives in my hands when they come to dine on a meal made by my own fair hands.
“What’s your excuse then?”
I used to live in London. Nobody cooks.
We all went out and drank a bit.
Oh, alright then. A lot!
So as you can imagine, when I got the chance to actually learn how to make something.
As in. Make food.
I jumped at the chance.
So a few days after we arrived in Chiang Mai, we decided to choose a cookery school with a difference. A cookery school that would give us a deeper insight of what it means to cook authentic Thai food and learn the ways of Thai living. As I said above, we went with a school called the Thai Secret Cooking School and we chose a full day cooking class.
After making all the arrangements online, they picked us up in a red songtaew owned by May and her American husband.
A songtaew is a type of red pickup truck with a canopy and twin rows of bench seating. Although tuk-tuks can be found all over Chiang Mai, the songtaew is used as a type of bus and taxi service rolled into one.
What a brilliant day we had!
We were a small group of seven.
Two (2) Australian retired ladies, two (2) British medical undergraduates, and ourselves a group of three (3). We then met May’s American husband, and May herself – a tiny, smiling, jolly woman!
We started off by going to the local market and learning about the different types of Thai rice, local fruit and vegetables. It was really interesting ‘cos we also saw some stuff that I had never ever seen before, and isn’t that the very reason that we travel. To see things unseen and perhaps also see things that we never ever want to see again. For example the unfortunate woman in Los Angeles who was so desperate for the loo that she pulled up her dress and had a poo.
Right in the middle of the street! We were traumatized, and “The Tall Young Gentleman” was enormously upset.
We still can’t talk about it. And this was across the street from our very famous 5-star luxury Millennium Biltmore Hotel. You know, the one that has been the premier choice for celebrities, presidents and dignitaries for more than 90 years.
Back to the food.
We saw a wide variety of mushrooms.
Not that variety !?%$§#?
Different blends of tofu, both squishy and flat. A variety of cucumbers and gherkins, tiny speckled eggs in plastic bags, white eggs, brown eggs, and pink eggs! Prickly fruit, green and yellow bananas, surrounded by freshly cut flowers. Soups and sauces, grilled fish, fresh fish, fried chicken, hot chilli peppers, raw vegetables, Asian cabbages, dripping roast duck hung by their necks, and whole chunks of raw, pink pork including the head, the hooves, the intestines, lungs, stomach and various other internal organs. Basically, all the stuff that usually goes into a sausage, and which we don’t really want to see!
After spending the morning at the local market, we went to May’s personal home.
The Thai Secret Cooking School is located in PhaPhi Village which is about 20 minutes from the main centre of Chiang Mai and took probably about 30-40 minutes to get there from the marketplace.
May has a lovely house with a long table for us to have our meals and individual cooking stations, stoves, pots and pans. Her home is surrounded by her organic farm and garden, and huge jackfruit and banana plantations.
May was really friendly and relaxed and made it clear that we shouldn’t be afraid of living things like the spiders and ants that we saw crawling on branches and leaves, as she had the young men climbing trees and bringing down the fruit. In fact, at one point “The Tall Young Gentleman” was encouraged to use a long bamboo pole to knock down some fruit that we would later use in our cookery class!
But before that, we had some refreshments and then we donned straw hats and raffia baskets and ventured into the herb and vegetable garden where we were taught how to identify and pick certain pickles, herbs, and spices.
And then it was time to get things into action.
We had booked a full day course.
WHAT IS A FULL DAY COOKING CLASS?
The full day course at the school consisted of choosing one (1) item from:
- Fresh Spring Roll
- Fried Spring Roll or Po Pea Thot
- Papaya Salad or Som Tam Thai
- Beef Salad or Yum Nua Yang
- Glass Noodle Salad or Yum Woon Sen.
Stir Fried Dishes:
- Stir – Fried Noodle Thai Style or Pad Thai
- Stir – Fried Chicken with Ginger or Gai Pad Khing
- Stir – Fried Chicken with Cashew Nut or Pad Met Ma Muang
- Stir – Fried Minced Chicken with Basil or Pad Ka Pao Gai
- Stir – Fried Sweet & Sour Chicken with Vegetable or Pad Prew.
- Hot & Sour Prawn Soup or Tom Yum Gung
- Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup or Tom Kha Gai
- Tofu & Vegetable Soup or Tom Juud Tao Hoo Kai
- Hot & Sour Seafood in Coconut Milk Soup or Tom Yum Taley.
Curry Paste Dishes:
- Chiang Mai Curry Paste or Namprik Gaeng Hang Lay
- Red Curry Paste or Namprik Gaeng Ped
- Yellow Curry Paste or Namprik Gaeng Ga-ri
- Panaeng Curry Paste or Namprik Gaeng Panaeng
- Green Curry Paste or Namprik Gaeng Kheaw Whan
- Chiang Mai Curry with Pork or Hang Lay
- Red Curry with Chicken / Pork or Gaeng Ped Gai or Moo
- Yelow Curry with Chicken / Pork or Gaeng Ga-ri Gai or Moo
- Panaeng Curry with Chicken / Pork or Gaeng Panaeng Gai or Moo
- Green Curry with Chicken / Seafood or Gaeng Kheaw Whan Gai
- Deep Fried Banana or Gluey Thod
- Banana in Coconut Milk or Gluey Bhuad Chee
- Water Chestnuts in Coconut Milk or Tub Tim Grob
- Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango or Khao Nuaw Ma Muang
- Banana Roll with Honey / Sweetened Condensed Milk or Po pea gluey.
- Beef Salad
- Stir-Fried Sweet & Sour Chicken with Vegetable
- Hot & Sour Prawn Soup
- Red Curry Paste
- Red Curry with Chicken / Pork
- Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango.
What I attempted to make and cook is below:
That’s my beef salad. Quite tangy and deceptively spicy!
That’s my Stir-Fried Sweet & Sour Chicken with Vegetables in my wok!
That’s my home-made Hot & Sour Prawn Soup. I got into trouble here as it was really spicy and I was coughing and spluttering all over the place, and my eyeballs almost fell out, and so I reached out for my glass of water!
If you’re an expert at eating spicy food, you’ll know that in this case, water doesn’t quench the fire, it enhances it, and my tongue was definitely on fire!
That’s my home-made Red Curry with Chicken / Pork. Just by looking at it. you can see that although very delicious, I struggled to slurp it down. I don’t usually eat spicy stuff as I don’t like the heat! In Thailand however, I made an attempt to go authentic because when we first arrived, I asked for “just a little spice,” and they took all the character and personality of the meal away! As such, I decided that whilst we were in Asia, I would go “local” as much as I could manage, which led to me chewing away at a plateful of cucumber as they seemed to cool down my tongue, in more ways than one LOL!
That’s my home-made Deep Fried Banana although, I was supposed to have made Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango!
Well, that proved rather awkward as:
- The Sticky Rice is made with Coconut Cream.
- I’m allergic to coconut.
- I don’t like fruit and savoury mixed up together.
- In fact, Yuk!
I couldn’t have the Banana in Coconut Milk, The Pumpkin in Coconut Milk, or the Banana Roll because:
- Coconut milk again!
- I don’t like bananas.
- Bananas stink!
Happily, May worked her magic so that I could still have a dessert dish without the milk and without soft bananas. In fact, the Deep-Fried Banana were quite crisp and didn’t taste like a dessert at all but rather like a packet of crisps or potato chips covered with sesame seeds!
It really was a lovely day for cooking as the sun was shining and we even had enough time to take a nap in the hammock in the garden, read a little, and even play with the cats and very shy kittens!
Indeed, our small group gelled so well that the retired ladies who had previously booked only half-a day, decided to stay for the full course, and we all shared our food with each other especially when we were so stuffed that we couldn’t eat any more or just to have a peek at the smell and flavour of other dishes.
Having said that, I think that “The Tall Young Gentleman” did a marvellous job at making six full courses all by himself.
I think he’ll be able to cook in the future LOL!
Perhaps, even better than myself, and I’m proud of that fact LOL!
We really had an exciting day with full, happy stomachs. Here’s the info:
WHAT IS THE THAI SECRET COOKING SCHOOL?
The Thai Secret Cooking School is a modern kitchen that upholds the Thai tradition of an open air kitchen with panoramic views of nature that surrounds the local people.
WHAT IS THE THAI SECRET COOKING SCHOOL ABOUT?
The Thai Secret Cooking School is about an alternative way of seeing the city of Chiang Mai by moving away from the ordinary tourist trail and exploring the cultural, traditional way of cooking Thai food, in a safe, friendly, relaxing environment.
DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAI?
These tour are in English. If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, as most of the course is dedicated to tasting, cooking, and enjoying the food that you or your group have made. There will be no time to worry, and May has an excellent sense of humour LOL!
WHAT DO I NEED?
A pair of good shoes or flip-flops, a pair of sunglasses, possibly a hat, and a huge smile!
Yes. This tour cost 1,100 Baht or $34.00 for a full day course, 900 Baht or $30.00 for the evening course, and 800 Baht or $25.00 for the half day course; and was well worth the price.
At the end of the course, you are given a “Certificate of Completion” and a copy of their “Thai Secret Cook Book”.
As a last note, the Thai Secret Cooking School really does take its food seriously so I would recommend having no more than a few slices of toast and a cup of tea for breakfast, as you will be stuffed!
I thought it was brilliant. The classes were relaxed and the food choices were numerous, whether you were a vegetarian, glucose intolerant, or had food allergies like me.
Everyone should do a cookery course every now and then, if only to make sure that when guests come to visit, you can impress them or at least, not poison them LOL!
WHAT IF A COOKERY COURSE ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?
Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!
Tickets for the Thai Cooking Class are from 800 Baht to 1,100 Baht.
Approximate time: 8 hours for a full day class, 5 hours for a half day class.
For more information about traditional cooking classes please contact: Thai Secret Cooking School.
This article is not sponsored and even though I received a discount, all opinions and the rather wonderful dishes I happily stuffed down, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you so for the month of September only, I will be writing about our adventures in Thailand, Indonesia, and Qatar and at the same time, keeping you posted as to the fantastic things going on in my wonderful city of Berlin.
November 9th, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Events are taking place all over the city until then.
September is going to be a beautiful month.
Have you been to a cookery class? What’s your favourite Thai dish to make at home?
See you in Berlin.
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