Thursday, February 2, 2012

We're Cookin' in Chiang Mai! Wednesday, 2/1/2012

Sadly, today is our last day in Chiang Mai.  We've really enjoyed this wonderful city, and would love to have a few more days here.   Tomorrow is our flight to Koh Samui, an island in southern Thailand.  We're are looking forward to some relaxing beach time!

On the agenda for today is a one day Thai cooking class, and we've really been looking forward to it.  After reading several reviews, we chose "Basil Healthy Thai Cooking School", and it was a great choice.

We had a wonderful, fun day learning to cook some delicious Thai food.  Our instructor was a very nice young lady named Boom,  she was an excellent teacher.  One of the things we really liked about Basil is  the class size is small, we got a lot of individual instruction, and were each able to choose from a large variety of dishes to cook.

David and I were joined by two delightful women, Christie and Adele.  They are both from Sydney, Australia, although Christie and her family have lived in Thailand for 9 years.  They were lovely classmates, and very nice to visit with.

Our day started early, with Boom picking us up at 8:45 a.m.  As Christie and Adele were already with her, we drove straight to the Som Phet market to pick up our fresh cooking supplies.   On the way to the market, Boom gave us a 6 course menu, with 3 choices in each course.  We were each to choose 1 item from each course, and then would shop for our supplies at the market.   It was fun choosing our own menu, and very educational to shop for the ingredients.  Boom was a good guide through the market, explaining some of the unfamiliar Thai ingredients that we would be using.  We each had our own market basket to pack our produce in!  Here's David:

This is Boom,  showing us some of the many different kinds of Thai peppers:

And here she is, telling us all about those mysterious herbs and greens that David and I've been seeing in the markets.  Now we know what they are!

We also learned about several types of mushrooms, here's Adele carefully examining a wood ear mushroom:

After we'd filled our baskets, we hopped back into Boom's van and drove to her house for our big day of cooking.  Here I am with my basket full of lovely produce:

It was a short drive to Boom's house, we soon pulled up to a small townhouse in a narrow lane.  We were greeted by Booms assistant:

 A nice welcome:

We removed our shoes at the door, and walked into a pretty dining room, with the table all set, ready for they yummy Thai food we're going to cook!

 Here is Boom's very nice kitchen, complete with a cooking and prep station for each of us, with our very own wok:

Boom is a very well organized teacher,  and had most of the prep work done for us.  For each of our dishes there was a plate at our prep station containing all the necessary ingredients for that dish.  Although we did do some minor chopping prior to cooking, we were able to spend most of our time actually cooking and listening to Boom's detailed and informative instruction.  Her attention to detail shows in the pretty prep plates, I love how she nestled the egg in the noodles in that cute little basket.  This prep plate was for my chicken Pad Thai:

Just look how she "tied" this Chinese long bean:

David and I chose a different dish for each of our courses.

Our Menus:

David: Thai Drunken Noodle                                Di:  Pad Thai
            Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup                        Hot and Sour Prawn Soup
            Fried Cashew Nut with Chicken                      Stir Fried Minced Pork with Holy Basil
            Red Curry with Bamboo Shoot                        Pa-Nang Curry
            Savory Minced Chicken Salad                         Green Papaya Salad
            Black Sticky Rice Pudding                              Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango

We chopped, stirred and fried the day away!  Here are some "action shots"

David is having a great time!

Here I am, chopping away:

Stir-frying all in a row, look how serious they are!  They're really concentraing:

After we complete each course, we sat down together to enjoy our delicious food. As we'd each chosen different dishes, it was fun to share and taste each others creations.  Needless to say, by the end of the day we were stuffed to the gills!

Here are some close ups of our our yummy food:

Tom Yum Kung   (Hot and Sour Soup)  So easy and quick to make!

Green Papaya Salad:

 Our curry and stir fry course, note the cute duck shape of the rice:

David's desert,  Sweet Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk, it was really good!

My desert, Mango with Sticky Rice--deeeelicious!

We also learned how to make curry paste from scratch; it's a lot of work!  There are many, many different ingredients to make up each type of curry.  We each chose a different kind of curry, and there was a lot of chopping and grinding with a mortar and pestle to get just the right consistency.  It was so much better than store bought curry paste, definitely worth all that work!

Here's David and Adele, grinding away:

We even made our own coconut milk from fresh coconut!  Boom already had the coconut shredded, and we put it in a large cloth bag, and into a bowl of water.  Then we just squeezed and squeezed, and we had fresh coconut milk in about 10 minutes!  Here I am, making coconut milk:

After we finished our desert, Boom presented us each with a cookbook with recipes for each of the dishes, a thoughtful gift of a pretty Thai silver bookmark, and a certificate showing we are now "Official Thai Cooks!

It was a fun-filled and very educational day, and we certainly enjoyed the very nice company of Boom, Christie and Adele.

I see a few Thai dinner parties in our future, and you're invited!

Boom gave us a ride back to our hotel, where we once again relaxed at the Terrace Bar for a cold beer and a mojito.  We sat and discussed the yummy food we'd cooked, which were our favorites and what we want to try first at home.  We are determined to make our own panang curry paste at home!

We still had part of the afternoon left, and we didn't want to waste a minute of our time in Chiang Mai.  Still on our list of things to do was to visit a workshop for the handicapped, with a gift shop where we could buy gifts to help support their program.  We found it without too much trouble, and bought several items to bring home, including some nice kitchen utensils made from palm tree, and some very fragrant lemongrass soap.

 We explored this new neighborhood for a couple of hours, slowly making our way back to our hotel, The Parasol Inn.  A quick and delicious dinner at our favorite "hole in the wall" restaurant right around the corner, and it's back to the Inn to pack our bags, tomorrow we're off to Koh Samui!

We are sad to leave charming Chiang Mai, but looking forward to new adventures.  Stay tuned!


  1. What a great day...learning to cook Thai food. Most of it I think I would eat Di. Mostly the sticky rice with mango and that black sticky rice pudding that David made...Maybe you can cook us an easy Thai meal in Anchorage this summer. I promise to eat what you cook...tonight I had beef barbecue and topped it with a huge portion of your green relish that you sent me...I love it. Your off now to a beach in Southern Thailand. I hope you get some relax time on the've been going at a break neck speed for weeks. Until tomorrow.....

  2. Hey Di and Dave. I'm thinking that the Tom Yum Kung with the sticky rice with mango would be an excellent dinner to celebrate your arrival home. What do ya think? Of course, this is only after you have at least a week to sleep and relax (as well as several dark beers). You must be exhausted. I'm sure you will continue to have a wonderful time as you head north. Sure wish that my kitchen was as beautiful as Boom's kitchen.