After a brief break from this series, we return to Thailand! This is the eighth post in the Thailand! travel series of my eats in Bangkok. Other posts include Thip Samai, Best Pad Thai in Bangkok? and Raan Jay Fai, Best Drunken Noodle in Bangkok, Maeklong Railway Market, Floating Markets (Damnoen Saduak), Street Foods of Bangkok, Part I, and Street Foods of Bangkok, Part II, and Fun Fruits in Thailand!
Thailand is an awesome place to take a cooking class. The availability of produce in this country is insane, truly creating a playground for the senses. It is a very foreigner friendly country - there are tons of classes taught in English. Plus, prices are very reasonable and you get to cook and eat a ton of fantastic food.
I swear, some of the best dishes I tasted in Thailand were in my cooking classes.
I went to two cooking schools while I was in Thailand. I had time during the day while Bryan was at his conference, and I was curious to compare how two different schools taught Thai cooking.
I initially decided on Somphong Cooking School because it had excellent reviews, was close to my hotel, and offered to teach dishes I really wanted to learn.
It turned out to be a fantastic experience and totally, totally worth the $30 USD I paid for the class.
Somphong Cooking School is very centrally located in the Silom neighborhood of Bangkok right off the BTS Skytrain stop Chong Nongsi. It's located at the end of a very narrow alleyway.
The first thing we did was head out to a local market where we got to see all kinds of fresh meat, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.
It's at this market that our instructor Koy taught us all about local Thai ingredients, such as how coconut milk and cream are made (above), how to identify various types of herbs, and how to use these herbs in Thai cooking. I'll focus more on those ingredients in the upcoming posts when I talk about the individual recipes that incorporate these ingredients.
Isn't the produce just enviably gorgeous? Never in Boston would I ever have such a unique variety and abundance of fresh vegetables.
After the educational market trip, we all walked back into the open-air cooking school, where Koy began to teach us how to make all sorts of dishes.
Here are the dishes we learned to make, all to be described in much more detail (including recipes!) in upcoming posts!
We learned how to make Panaeng style red curry from scratch. A plethora of spices, fresh herbs, and aromatics are painstakingly ground up in a mortar and pestle.
We used the fruits of our labor to make a delicious curry chicken dish.
We pounded out northeasternThai style Som Tam Thai, or Papaya Salad, the traditional way (yup, with yet another mortar and pestle). We also learned how to make tomato "roses" for garnish.
We learned the many complex steps to making a really good Pad Thai. I was surprised how different the ingredients were compared to what I typically see (and taste!) in the States.
For dessert, we made golden bananas in a pandan coconut milk syrup, which was surprisingly delicious. I typically don't like bananas, but I loved the balance of sweet and salty in this fragrant dessert.
I had a ton of fun at this class and I learned so much. My class was super diverse, and it was fun to meet people from all over the world. In my class alone, we had two people from Bangkok, one from France, one from Belgium, a couple from New Zealand, a woman from Hong Kong (who was originally from Malaysia), a woman from India, and me, the lone American!
It was fun to exchange stories and learn about each others' cultures, all while prepping and cooking food from Thailand, yet another new culture for most of us. We had so much fun together, we were friends by the end of the class, sitting and chatting away.
Bonus! They gave us mango sticky rice at the end of our meal
I would highly recommend the classes at Somphong Thai Cooking School. The prices are really reasonable for the quality of instruction and food that you get. My 4 hour class, which included cooking and eating 4 dishes, only cost about $30 USD (1000 Baht). The class is really well run, and I felt like we had ample opportunities to do lots of hands-on cooking. They even gave us take-out containers and a bonus dessert (yay, mango sticky rice!) to take home with us.
Stay tuned for recipes (and more photos, of course)!
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