Cooking Thai style

One of the few activities we booked in advance was a Thai cooking class. The class we chose was listed as a half day activity. Our guide, Wass (as in Wass-up!), from Thai Farm Cooking School, picked up at our apartment promptly at 8:30am, and returned at just after 2:30pm.

Our first stop of the day was at a local food market where Wass showed us some of the ingredients we would be using later in the day, and why those items are necessary or how they are special to Thai cooking.

We spent about 45 minutes at the market before hopping back into our van and driving the final 30 minutes into the Thai countryside to the farm.

At the farm, Wass showed us around and talked about all the ingredients being grown on the farm, how they were special to Thai cooking, and very importantly, what we could substitute with back home if we were unable to find the ingredients. Such exotic ingredients included pandan leaf, Thai parsley, bitter eggplant, kaffir lime and fresh coriander.

The farm

Finally, we were set to begin cooking! One the drive to the farm we were given a list of the dishes for the day.

  • Soup
  • Curry
  • Phad Thai
  • Papaya salad
  • Bananas in coconut milk

For the soup and the curry, we were given a choice. Soup was Tom Yam or Tom Kha. And for the curry, it was Green, Red or Yellow. Christine chose Tom Kha with shrimp and Green curry with chicken, while I opted for Tom Yam and Yellow curry, with chicken in both.

Our first order of business was to make fresh curry paste, old school style using pestle and mortar. Hard work, but well worth it both for flavor and satisfaction of job well done.

We set the curry paste aside and move onto the first dish of the day, the soup. Like all the recipes today, this one was stupid simple. I won’t spoil our experience by giving the play-by-play for each recipe. Suffice it to say, none of the recipes were difficult and they were all completed in a few minutes from start.

After cooking the soup, we paused to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Simply delicious, and perhaps my favorite dish.

Tom Yam

Next up was the curry, followed by the Pad Thai, which was probably my favorite to make. Super fun, and done in under a minute!

After completing the Pad Thai, we again sat to enjoy our own cooking. We were in a group with five other. Three guys from Paris, a man from Barcelona and his girlfriend from Italy. As we ate, we enjoyed each others company, while Wass made up the papaya salad.

With lunch devoured, we were given a bit of time to wander around the grounds before we made our final dish of the day, Bananas in coconut milk.

All the cooking and eating complete, we climbed back into the van for the drive back to Chiang Mai. Bellies full, several of us fell asleep in the deep air conditioning.

Back in Chiang Mai, we had a short bit of time before to heading to the train station to catch our overnight sleeper train down to Bangkok.

I could not recommend Wass, and Thai Farm Cooking School, highly enough. It was a fun, unique experience that allowed us to learn some Thai cooking and also see the beautiful countryside in the northern province. If you’re in Chiang Mai for more than a day, this should be high on your list of must-do activities.