After we picked up our ingredients at a local Thai marketplace and learned about all the sauces, veggies and herbs we’d be using, we headed back to the cooking school to learn how to make our favorite Thai dishes.
Most of the thai cooking courses in Chiang Mai offer morning, evening or all day classes. The morning and evening allow you to select 5 dishes to make, including an appetizer, soup, two entrees and a curry while the all day courses have a full banquet of 8 dishes, including dessert. I was a little bummed we wouldn’t be able to make mango sticky rice, having heard so much about it, but the evening class worked perfectly for our schedule.
We each chose different dishes, for a total of:
- soup: hot and sour prawn soup & chicken in coconut milk
- appetizer: spring roll & papaya salad
- stir fry: pad thai & chicken and cashews
- curry: paneng curry with pork & green curry with chicken
Looking back, I think it’d have been nice to all cook together (you go to separate rooms depending on which dish you selected) but at the time I thought it’d be nice to learn how to make everything, ha. The instruction itself was great. The school pre-sorts the ingredients so that everyone has their own plate or bowl of veggies. I liked how that made it simpler to chop and go. Everything is portioned individually except the curry; the curry paste is made together by everyone as it’s pretty labor intensive. By the time we got to the third course, we were so full and had zero appetite for the curry dishes. The school has tubberware though, if you’d like to take anything home.
I had a lot of fun taking the evening cooking class. It was great to learn how to make some of the classics and also a great way to meet other people in Chiang Mai. The school we picked limited each class size to 8, and we were in a room of other Americans, who also happened to be from New York! They mentioned they had gone to tiger kingdom and an elephant sanctuary and it was nice to hear about their travels.
At the end of the night, everyone receives a glossy color cookbook full of all the dishes (not just the ones you personally made), which I thought was a cute souvenir. It’s also proved handy as we’ve experimented with recreating a couple thai dishes since we’ve gotten back. I thought I’d share this recipe for my favorite pad thai, below:
serves 1250 grams rice noodle 50 grams chicken (or whichever protein you’d like) 3 tbsp. oil 20 grams spring onion or chives 1 tsp. sugar 2 tbsp. fish sauce (veg: soy sauce) 2 tbsp. oyster sauce (veg: mushroom sauce) 1 egg 30 grams bean sprouts or cabbage 1 tbsp. chopped garlic 50 grams tofu (cut into 1 cm. width cube) 1/2 cup water
- Heat the oil over low heat, add garlic and fry until fragrant
- add the chicken and tofu and stir until the chicken is cooked
- break the egg in and spread the egg with the chicken until cooked
- move the chicken and tofu mixture to the side of the wok and add noodles and water, let noodles cook until tender
- season with fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar
- add the bean sprouts and chives
- turn off the heat and serve with fresh vegetables.
- add lime juice, ground peanuts and chilis, season to taste
If you’re vegetarian, you can modify the dish for the substitutions above. When we made pad thai in the class (and all the dishes for that matter) the instructors kept the oil / fire very, very high so that everything cooked quickly. The sauce amounts are flexible, I would just add the soy sauce and oyster sauce in proportion until the dish is seasoned the way you like it. When we recreated the dish back home, we ignored all the actual quantity amounts since we made a large batch for 4 and added the sauces until the noodles and chicken have a slightly browned color. I’m also not a huge fan of cabbage or tofu, so we left that out and it still tasted great!
You can buy all the asian ingredients in Chinatown or Koreatown if you’re in NYC, or at any asian grocery store. Ideally, get fresh bean sprouts so that they’re crunchy! We bought dehydrated rice noodles but you can get fresh as well.