What an amazing day! If you’re a traveling foodie, you must take a one-day cooking class! This was the best day of my whole trip. Why didn’t I take a class in Italy?
I had a choice of several cooking schools in Chiang Mai, but I chose this particular school because it uses 80% organic ingredients, offers vegetarian modifications for all dishes, and lets the students pick what they want to learn.
The school picked me up from my hotel and brought me to a market where the day’s group was given an introduction to Thai ingredients, and where our instructor bought the ingredients we’d be cooking with.
This is totally the way to shop, it doesn’t get much fresher than this!
Thai cooking uses several varieties of basil. Here, you see Holy Basil, Hoary Basil, and Sweet Basil.
I’ve used dried wood ear mushrooms in hot & sour soup, but I had no idea the fresh ones looked so cool!
On the left, is ginza root, which belongs to the same family as ginseng. In the middle is galangal root, a relative to ginger, that tastes a bit citrusy and peppery, it’s used as a complement to ginger. On the right is ginger root and on top of the ginger root is fresh turmeric.
The withered looking lime near the front is a kaffir lime. The leaves of the plant are very prevalent in Thai cooking, and so are the rinds, particularly in green curry.
Thai garlic is milder and more delicate than other varieties. It is most commonly smashed and added to the dish whole without peeling, mincing, or pressing.
Tofu! The yellow tofu is coated with turmeric, which does not affect the taste, but makes it look a bit more attractive in stir-fries, etc.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t put off by the dirt and mold in that styrofoam cooler, but when in Rome…or Thailand in this case, do as the locals do. Traveling is good for my immune system :)
Once we were finished at the market, we got down to cooking! We were split into groups based on the dishes we chose to learn. We prepped our ingredients, then cooked in the open air kitchen at our own propane powered stations, sampled the goods, and moved on to the next dish. By early afternoon I was stuffed!
I cannot believe the amount of work that went into this class, the staff was really amazing! The amount of prep work and dish washing was unbelievable, now I want a sous chef every time I cook!