One of the Top things to do in Chiang Mai is a Cooking Class, where you can learn how to shop, prepare and cook traditional Thai Cuisine.
Deciding I could not leave Chiang Mai without doing a cooking class (photo gallery), I emailed Zabb-E-Lee Thai Cooking School to reserve a spot; cost 900 baht / USD$26. Time to check it off the bucket list! The following morning at 8:45 AM a tuk tuk truck with a few other people in picked me up from our hotel lobby and transferred us all to the market parking lot.
Here we met Chef Bow, introductions to my 9 fellow class mates were made and some explanations regarding Thai Dishes were presented. We were then asked which dishes we were interesting in preparing, a huge shopping list was created and we then all entered the market to begin our schooling.
Around 45 minutes were spent at the market, including valuable information regarding the vegetables and spices used in Thai dishes and some free time. While we had our free time, Bow was busy filling the shopping list. We all helped carry the goods to the truck before making the 5 minute drive to the school.
The casual feeling facility makes a good first impression. Bow took the time to show us around, pointing out the washroom, lockers where we can store our personal belongings and then the dining area with a large family style table. We all grabbed a seat and were offered coffee, tea and water, while the staff did some pre-cooking preparations with the fresh meat and produce. Facing us were the cooking stations where the magic happens! Everything was impressively clean.
Each person is permitted to choose 4 dishes to prepare including an appetizer, a soup, a stir fry and a curry, in addition to the Sticky Rice with Mango and the Curry Paste which you need to make your curry.
?If you are observant and not shy, you can watch and learn the preparation of every chosen dish!
We began with the Stir Fry and the Soup, I chose to learn how to make the Pad Thai (a stir-fried rice noodle dish) and the Tom Kha Kai (Coconut Milk Soup with Chicken).
Bow did a fantastic job walking us through the process, guiding us when we needed help and keeping everyone enthused! When our first two dishes were complete and plated, we all gathered at the dining table to photograph, eat and share our fare.
The next lesson was how to make curry paste. As I had chose the Green Curry Chicken (Kaeng khiaw wann gai), I needed a Green Curry Paste (Num phrik kaeng khiaw wan), other pastes were prepared as well. After a lot of pounding, a smooth paste finally resulted and we now had the base to prepare our curries.
But before the curry preparation, we needed to make our appetizers. On a previous visit to Thailand, I fell in love with the Papaya Salad (Som Tum), so it was a natural choice for me, although the Thai Fresh Springroll (Kway Teow Lui Suan) was very tempting.
? By now, the group dynamic is marvelous! Everyone is laughing, helping and sharing!
Upon the group completion of our chosen appetizers, we all returned to our stations to finish cooking our curries. When everything was properly plated, we returned to our dining table to eat the finished creations. The results were mouth watering amazing!
Of course, by now it was almost impossible to eat any more, so after taste testing all the dishes, our dishes were packed up in take away boxes along with a nice serving of Mango Sticky Rice.
Everyone was presented with a paper back Cook Book with all of the recipes before saying our goodbyes, and being transported back to our hotels. It was now 4 pm (7 hours total), I was full and had learned a lot, including how to actually use a wok pan; definitely worth the 900 baht. Hopefully I will be able to re-create what I learned!
Everybody should do a cooking class (Read about my experience here) when in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There is a wealth of knowledge to be learned, interesting people to meet and great food to eat! Here is my photo gallery from the Zabb-E-Lee Cooking School course I took. Enjoy!