I’m writing this midway through my 11-hour flight from Bangkok to Copenhagen. I’m on my way back to Europe after spending the summer travelling through Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, eating the hell out of everything.
My favourite stop was Bangkok, where there’s cheap and amazing food absolutely everywhere you look. It’s nearly impossible to walk down a street without discovering some hidden, pop-up lunchtime food market inside what seems to be an abandoned warehouse with trees growing inside it, where 20p you can get the most amazing chicken curry you’ve ever had in your life.
Here I am doing just that, looking all pale on my second day in Thailand.
In the three months between then and now I’ve eaten so much incredible food and had my mind constantly blown by the freshness of ingredients and the careful balancing of exotic flavours. Leaving all that behind is unthinkable!
Bangkok was my first and last stop on the trip, and before flying home there was one VERY important thing left on my to-do list.
It was time to learn how to make this food myself back home.
I checked out a few cooking schools on good old Tripadvisor, and while all of them had great reviews and I’m sure all are worth checking out, I settled on Silom Thai Cooking School for three reasons:
- Theirs was the most exciting of all the menus I saw – it had green curry, pad thai, mango sticky rice and more.
- They were one of the cheapest at 1000 baht (about £20) per person.
- The school was based in the Bang Rak area of the city, and included a market tour. A great chance for me to see this apparently very foodie district.
And I definitely made the RIGHT decision! The class was absolutely amazing, not just because of the food but because of our wonderful instructor, who was so charismatic and funny she should really be on TV. She was also very informative, helpful, interested in her students, and had thought of absolutely everything. As a bonus, even the cooking studio was BEAUTIFUL.
Instead of cooking everything then having a big feast at the end, we would cook one dish, then eat, then cook, then eat… it went on like this all afternoon and it was glorious.
The first thing we cooked was Tom Yum Kung or the famous sour and spicy soup with prawns and lemongrass. Here are the ingredients we’d just picked up from the market, chopped and ready to go – there’s tomato, mushroom, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, chilli paste, lime leaves, and spring onion.
And of course, chillis.
I thought I liked spicy food, but Thai spicy food is a whole different story. The Thai chillis we used were tiny but powerful. 2-5 of these is ”foreigner spicy” and 5+ is “Thai spicy”. I used two and it was plenty for me.
The finished product was so good I couldn’t believe I’d actually made it.
Next was Pad Thai, with the option to make it with shrimp or chicken. Again I was amazed by how good it was!
It’s served with sugar on the side and there’s sugar traditionally used in the cooking, too. Some of us found this so weird and unhealthy that we left it out, and our teacher said that yes you can definitely leave it out without worrying about it being “inauthentic” or whatever.
We then made a Thai green curry paste as a group effort. It was serious hard work with a big stone pestle and mortar (but don’t worry, even Thai people cheat and get paste from the supermarket sometimes…)
Here are the green curry ingredients ready to go, and the finished product!
There was almost nothing in the way of cooking technique. The green curry and really everything we made was basically:
- Get delicious ingredients together and cut them up a bit
- Throw in wok
- Turn on high
- Spend a few minutes watching it turn into something even more delicious
There wasn’t a whole lot of room for error. We prepared the ingredients together and then we were closely supervised and helped along by our teacher. It would’ve been hard to screw this up. But it still felt good to be making this stuff myself and gave me the confidence to think that actually I CAN DO THIS whereas until now Thai cooking has always intimidated me.
We didn’t do the mango sticky rice ourselves but watched as it was demonstrated. We were given this dessert as a treat at the end of the class, when we were all getting a bit full and tired. It was very welcome! AND SO PRETTY
So yeah, I freaking loved this class. This was one of the highlights of the entire trip.
If you’re in Bangkok, and you’re even remotely interested in food, then you really, really have to take this class. Anyone who doesn’t is seriously missing out. We had such a fun afternoon and I’m now ready to tackle these dishes in my kitchen back home – that is, if I can find the ingredients!