March 14, 2011
Senne’s Summary: Today we took a Thai cooking class. We learned how to make six dishes each… and Steve learned how to impress his friends by cooking with a GIANT flame!
Today we took an excellent Thai Cooking Class at “PadThai Cookery School”.
The morning started when we were picked up by our teacher “Meow” in her “bus” (a truck with seats in the back and a partially open canopy) to go to the market. We picked up another two people (girls from Holland) and then headed towards the market.
When we arrived Meow had us choose which dishes we wanted to cook. We would each cook six dishes and had a selection of four dishes to choose from in each category. Steve and I chose different ones for each category so we would be able to cook more variety when we got home, and so we could taste more things today!
After we made our selections we headed into the market where Meow told us all kinds of interesting things about the food we would find in there.
The line that sticks out most in my head is when she was showing us the different kinds of fresh and dried noodles… at one point she says “You can also get the low carbohydrate noodles for the sexy shape!” We didn’t realize it yet but the day that followed was going to be filled with her hilarious comments.
Some of the interesting things we learned in the market:
- Liquids are sold in clear plastic bags… even cooking oil
- Meow recommended soy bean oil for cooking Thai food… olive oil has too strong of a flavour
- Eggs are also sold in plastic bags
- No one bats an eye when a cat is sitting amongst all the fresh food
- Some food that Thai people think is delicious looks quite gross to me… such as, some sort of big black jelly blob is apparently a delicious treat
- You can get lots of different kinds of mushrooms that I’ve never seen before, and I would have really had to look at them carefully to discover that they were actually mushrooms
- You can buy your noodles dried or fresh
- The younger the chili the hotter it is… “just like the man”… as Meow told us 🙂
After showing us around Meow let us roam freely while she picked up the ingredients for today’s cooking class. When she was ready we headed back to the “bus” and drove out to her cooking school. When we arrived we took off our shoes and then headed in to sit down in the “party room”. The party room had a big table in the middle with cushions around it. We would sit here periodically throughout the day to taste our food.
We sat and chatted for a bit, while Meow and her boyfriend got things ready to go. Then she came over and gave us an apron and made each of us a name tag with our name written in Thai and English. She also told us when we have a Thai dinner party we can now write our names. We can also make Thai name tags for our friends. “Just make it up, they don’t know Thai anyway,” she told us with a smile.
Next we moved to the prep area, which was a big area with a long table and stools to sit on. Meow and her boyfriend had prepared little plastic baskets for each of us with the materials we would need for our first dish, which was a breakfast dish. I chose to make Pad Thai, and Steve chose Stir Fried Pumpkin. One thing that made us both laugh was when she showed us how to prepare the garlic. Here in Thailand they do not peel garlic. They smash the cloves with the knife. Meow made the comment, “Just picture your ex-boyfriend, and SMASH, SMASH, SMASH”.
Later, when we were finely chopping something and she wanted us to get more intense with it, she said, “Chop chop, chop! You never see Thai people get angry because they get anger out in the kitchen. Come on! Chop Chop Chop!!!” Then when she’d decided things were chopped enough, “Okay. That’s enough. It’s OVER!” 🙂 After prepping our ingredients and then cooking at the Wok, we headed over to the party room to taste our cooking. Both dishes were very tasty. I think the Pad Thai sauce was the best I’ve ever tasted. Hopefully I can find the right ingredients to replicate the sauce at home.
While we were eating, Meow and her boyfriend prepped the baskets for our next set of food, which was appetizers. I made chicken satay with fresh peanut sauce, and Steve rolled his own spring rolls and then deep-fried them.
Next we made soup. Steve made chicken and I made soup with prawns. Meow gave us a good tip about cooking with prawns. Don’t stir in a circle until prawns are at least half cooked, otherwise everything else will have a fishy taste. She also gave us an important tip about stirring, “Stir in a circle, like move the hips to make the sexy.” She was quite impressed with my stirring technique 🙂 She also taught us how to make a rose out of the tomato skin. When we were done making the soup we garnished it with the tomato rose. She told us that the tomato garnish is the difference between a 20 baht soup and a 500 baht soup 🙂
After the soup we both made a curry dish. I did the Massaman curry which is the mildest, and Steve did the Yellow Curry which is the second mildest. We used chilis a lot throughout the day for flavour and Meow always made us wash our hands immediately after cutting the chili. “You don’t want to cut the chili and then touch your eye. Wash hands right away. You can touch your friends eye, but don’t touch your own!” She also reminded us that it was important to wash your hands because if you don’t and then go to the bathroom (known as the “happy room” at Meow’s place) you will have the “Chili Willi”. Nobody wants that 🙂 She was actually filled with hilarious lines about cooking with the chilis. For instance, “If you use too much of this you will burn your ass. Will burn you in three places Bing, Bang, Boom” pointing to her throat, her stomach and her bum. She definitely kept us laughing 🙂
Next we cooked our stir fry dishes. I did the chicken with cashew nuts, and Steve did the sweet and sour vegetables. The stir fry dish is where all the excitement happens. This is where she told us we could learn to make the flame to impress our friends. “Who wants to make the flame?” she asks us. Of course, Steve said yes, and I said NO! (I’m not going to tell you the secret to making the flame… how can we impress you if we tell you all the secrets?!?) First Meow gave us careful instructions on how to make the flame and then she asked, “Ladies first or man first?” Everyone said man, so Steve went first. I was giggling before Steve started because Meow was at her most hilarious. Before Steve started she asked him if he had insurance. Then, “Remember, Steve… whatever happens… the show must go on! Thank you for coming today, Steve. May the force be with you. Photographers stand by!” Luckily, I videotaped the event because it was the highlight of the day. The video does wobble around a bit, because I do get a little bit frightened in the middle that Steve might actually burn his arm 🙂 I tried to upload the video but the file is too big. Suffice it to say that Steve made a giant flame! Really enormous! The Dutch girls were a little afraid to go after Steve, but braved it out and went anyway.
Before we made dessert Meow showed us how to make a yummy curry paste with the mortar and pestle. Steve and I have been wanting to get one of these since our Balinese cooking class and Meow told us where we could pick one up for about 100 Baht. She also asked us if we wanted to put the “ginsa” in the paste. When we asked her what it was she told us it was in the family of ginseng. “Good for the man to make Boom Boom. But if you use too much, NO Boom Boom”… good to know 🙂
Next were the desserts. This was mostly Meow demonstrating how to do it, and we were fine with that having cooked loads of food already today (I was seriously ready for a nap… probably from all that eating :)). We learned how to make Sticky Rice Mango, Bananas in Coconut Milk, Black Rice Pudding, and Fried Bananas. Steve and I were particularly fond of the fried bananas which we determined would be even better with icing sugar and a little chocolate drizzle 🙂
After we finished tasting all the desserts, Meow presented us with our “Master Chef” certificates and cookbooks with lots of recipes. We also received a DVD to show us how to carve the vegetables and fruits. This is important because we want our food to look like 500 baht, not 20 baht!
After this Meow drove us back to our hotel.
We thoroughly enjoyed the day and would strongly recommend that if you are in Chiang Mai to try out this cooking school.