Cooking in Chiang Mai

Khaw Soi (a Chiang Mai specialty and one of our favourite dishes)
Khaw Soi (a Chiang Mai specialty and one of our favourite dishes)

I really enjoy cooking as I like getting creative with food. I love to learn new recipes and then once I am confident with them I’ll experiment with new flavours. However I am also an embarrassingly fussy eater, which is why curries are especially great for me. The vibrant flavours of a yummy Thai curry, easily mask the taste of the vegetables I dislike. Plus a big bonus is that now I’ve learnt to make curry pastes and sauces, I can stock up my freezer with them for some quick to re-heat midweek meals. If only my (forcefully) encouraging Matt to take a days massage course, had had quite as much impact on my life back in England (I think he’s forgotten it all as he’s definitely not been practicing giving me back rubs).

The city is teeming with cookery schools which can make choosing one a bit overwhelming. We personally had a fantastic day with Asia Scenic cookery school. It’s not just about being told how to cook; our teacher was incredibly open and friendly, as well as entertaining and informative.

Our day started in the schools spice garden, where we were shown some common ingredients in Thai cooking. We then took a trip to a local food market, to purchase the ingredients we’d then be cooking with. It was particularly interesting seeing how a noisy rattling machine is used to extract coconut milk from the fruits flesh. Meanwhile I had a fresh fruit smoothie, which was a delicious mistake (breakfast had also been a mistake). I should’ve kept as much space free in my tummy for all the delicious food we’d been eating later! We practically had to roll back to our hostel!

Once we started cooking, what was particularly great was that we each had our own wok and we each got to choose which recipes we wanted to learn. This meant the four of us weren’t tied to each others choices. Our teacher had no problem teaching the technic for making numerous different stir-fry’s at once. Whilst I on the other hand can sometimes  struggle to keep an eye on two pots whilst cooking! Me and Matt chose different dishes so that collectively we’d learnt to cook a greater number of things. Here’s what we produced…

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My very neatly wrapped spring rolls (if I do say so myself)
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Stir fried sweet and sour vegetables
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Coconut milk soup (with chicken)
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Red Thai Curry (Panang curry was pretty similar but richer and with crushed peanuts)
Fried bananas (this would taste phenomenal with salted caramel sauce)
Fried bananas (this would taste phenomenal with salted caramel sauce)
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Mango sticky rice with condensed milk

When we were finished cooking and eating our SIX COURSE MEAL we were given a little recipe book to take home with us. We’ve successfully given quite a few of the dishes a go since returning home. Panang curry is a regular favourite but, despite producing a dish to be proud of under the guidance of our wonderful teacher, we’ve struggled with the Pad Thai ever since – it went stodgy and weird and we can’t work out why…

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