One of the highlights of my recent trip to Thailand was taking a cooking class to better understand the local cuisine.
Thai food offers a combination of flavours which activate all of your taste buds. In most Thai dishes you can expect to taste: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and of course spicy-hot. To hit all of these sensory buttons, Thai food offers abundant amounts of herbs and spices. I love the intensity that Thai food brings to my tastebuds, but this intensity and combination of flavours is not for everyone.
There is a misconception that Thai food is always spicy-hot, but my cooking instructor stressed that this was not the case. The spicy factor of Thai food can be modified when you make the food yourself or order it from a Thai restaurant. Similar to some Asian cuisines, Thai food is eaten with only a fork and a spoon and is served with a bowl of white rice.
In my cooking class, I was given the opportunity to cook six local Thai dishes. The first dish was the traditional Pad Thai.
Making pad thai was easy. Throw some garlic, tofu, chicken (or pork), egg, sauces, and rice noodles into a wok, fry, and BAM; pad thai is created. Like most Thai dishes, Pad Thai can be topped with peanuts, bean sprouts, lime, herbs like cilantro or spring onions.
You can modify the taste of Pad Thai by adding more sugar (if you want it sweeter), more lime (to enhance the sour flavour), or more fish sauce (if you like it on the saltier side).
I also made wok fried chicken with cashew nuts (Kai Pad Met Ma Muang), and a red chicken curry (Kaeng Ped Kai). Similar to the Pad Thai, the chicken with cashew nuts was fairly easy to make, except this recipe included some different vegetables and a dried big chili. Making the red chicken curry, now that was a lot more work than I expected. Using a mortar and pestle made out of dark grey stone, for 20 minutes I ground galangal
, kaffir lime
, lemon grass, cumin seeds, garlic, and other herbs and spices into a red curry paste. After 10 minutes, I thought my curry paste was looking pretty good, so I proudly asked my instructor, "Is this good?" to which she replied, "For you!". After another 10 minutes of grinding ingredients into a paste that could be spread like butter, my arm felt swollen. After all the hard work, making the curry paste was truly worth it; I made the best chicken curry I have ever tasted.
I also made hot and sour soup, papaya salad, and sweet sticky rice with mango (kao-neuw-ma-muang). If you are headed to Krabi, Thailand anytime soon, I highly recommend taking a cooking class from Siam Cuisine Thai Cookery School. The ladies who run the school are organized, professional, and they won't let you give up on making a curry paste that isn't done to Thai cuisine standards!
Information about the cooking school:
159 Moo 5 T. Saithai Muang, Krabi 81000
Mobile: +66 (0) 89-5903149;
Telephone: +66 (0) 5-662065