The food we had in Thailand was so fantastic we thought it would be fun to take a cooking class to learn some of the recipes. I love to cook and especially enjoy trying new things, but I had never tried to cook any Thai food before so it seemed like a good idea. Plus, the class we chose–Thai Farm Cooking–was a whole day affair with a visit to the market first and then the day spent on their farm.
With an early start we were off to the market. There, we learned about different types of rice, condiments typical of a Thai kitchen (think fish sauce and chili paste), and we got to see the curry pastes we would soon be making by hand. Then we got a chance to stroll around the market ourselves; we were most fascinated with the chicken and meat on display, including a pig head!
Next we drove about an hour outside the city to the farm, which was quite idyllic. We went for a quick tour around the grounds and saw all the fruits and vegetables grown on the premises, including jackfruit, rose apples, strawberries, kaffir limes, tons of herbs and lemongrass, squashes, and much more.
Now it was down to business! First we learned how too cook jasmine rice and steam sticky rice. I loved the beautiful straw steamers they use!
Our stations were all set up for us to make our choice of red or green curry. That was one of the best parts about this class–you got to choose between a large variety of recipes and there was always a vegetarian option. So Manor and I each tried to make something different so we would have more things to learn–and eat! It was also really fun and interesting to learn about ingredients I hadn’t known about or how to use before, like fresh turmeric, which looks like orange ginger, pandan, which adds a sweet, vanilla-like flavor to desserts, and galangal, in the ginger family. Hopefully I can find these ingredients back in New York!
Next we had the choice of making either Tom Yum soup or coconut soup, so we each made one. They were both delicious!
Next we used our curry to create a chicken or tofu dish. And then we made another stir-fry dish with either cashews or basil.
After all that cooking and eating everyone was exhausted! So we got to have a little break, which most people used to nap in the shade. Then we came back to make appetizers: spring rolls and pad thai!
And of course, we had to have dessert: mango with sticky rice and pumpkin cooked in coconut milk. Yum!!
Since not everyone can get to Thailand to take a cooking class, here’s one of our favorite recipes! As you can see, the recipe is fairly easy and fast, which is why I like Thai cooking so much!
Chicken or Tofu with Cashew Nuts
80 grams of sliced chicken or tofu
1/4 cup of roasted cashew nuts
1/4 cup of sliced carrots
1/4 cup of sliced onions
2 sliced roasted and dried chillis, without seeds
1/4 cup of chopped spring onions
1/4 cup of mushrooms
2 tbsp. of soybean oil
a pinch of salt
1 tsp. of fish sauce or soy sauce
1/2 tsp. of sugar
1 tbsp. of oyster sauce (there is a vegetarian version of this made from mushrooms)
2 tbsp. of water
Heat the oil in the wok. Fry the chicken or tofu until golden brown. Add carrots, onions, mushrooms and water. Stir fry until almost cooked. Add oyster sauce, fish or soy sauce, sugar, salt, and spring onions. Stir fry again until mixed well. When done, turn off the heat and add cashew nuts and roasted chilli. Serve with rice.