Thai Cooking School

Last Saturday, Toddy and I toddled off to cooking school. For Christmas, Todd gave me a gift certificate for a Thai cooking class – Todd is aware that his wife digs calories, and this gift was spot on. After 2 weeks of Indian curry, we were ready for a bit of the Thai variety.

Before the cooking school photos, though, I have to show you one of the more bizarre houses in Bangkok – a replica of the White House. We visited the presidential grounds on Friday night.

Complete with a Statue of Liberty fountain

Our friends rent the former servants’ quarters behind the house, and we hung out on their roof on Friday night. The roof offers a good place to view the replicas of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower on the roof of the White House.

You’d never guess that the owner was influenced by Western culture…

Anyway, on with the food. The cooking course began on Saturday afternoon when the cooking instructors met us at the BTS (sky train) station, and escorted us to a local market. They spent half an hour describing the varieties of vegetables that were for sale.

Showing us a kaffir lime

Taken shortly after the biggest rat that I have ever seen ran/stumbled across the floor

Then it was time to head to the school to start our afternoon of coconut cream bliss. The menu for the afternoon included Massaman curry paste, Massaman curry, Tom Yum soup, chicken with cashews, and mango sticky rice. I was already hungry when we began cooking, and it required a lot of discipline not to eat the raw ingredients.

First up was the Massaman curry paste. It included a laundry list of ingredients: chilli, garlic, onion, ginger, coriander, lemon grass, shrimp paste, salt, and many more. We had to pound it until it resembled a paste. Apparently, it doesn’t taste the same if you use a food processor. Not sure if this farang could taste the difference, but I went with it.

Trying to work up a calorie deficit to compensate for what he’s about to eat

Next up was the Massaman curry itself. As with Indian food, I am always surprised to see the raw ingredients that go into Thai dishes – they seem so basic, but taste so sublime in curry. We simply prepped the ingredients, as we were going to cook all the dishes at the same time.

We then prepped the ingredients for the Tom Yum soup. The instructors passed us dishes of beautifully arranged ingredients, and our “prepping” consisted of chopping several of the ingredients into smaller pieces – “look, Mommy! I helping!” I hadn’t realized how simple the ingredients for Tom Yum are – no complex curry paste as used for the Massaman curry. It is seasoned with fresh herbs, sugar, chilli, and fish sauce.

Prepping for the cashews and chicken also involved cutting already cut vegetables into smaller pieces. Whatever – we got the gist of it. Far more entertaining was trying to decide whether one of our instructors was a ladyboy (Todd’s not sure, but I am 100% positive).

Ready to re-prep ingredients

Then it was time to cook! This part of the class was most informative for me. Now I know why I end up with blobs of curry paste in my vegetables when I try to make curry; how much coconut cream actually goes into curries; what the vague stench of Thai food comes from (fish sauce and shrimp paste); and that Thai cooking really does contain as much sugar and oil as I thought. The instructors were almost too helpful – please let me add my own ingredients to the pot!

I warned you! 

But I put such thoughts out of my mind when I saw this trio (plus rice!) of goodness in front of me. I’m such a good cook! And an even better eater…

Clockwise from left: Tom Yum soup, Massaman curry, cashews and chicken

Feeling simultaneously accomplished and ravenous

Last but not least was the mango sticky rice. It would have been too complicated to make our own rice, so the instructors demonstrated the process for us. Nothing like a good mixture of sugar and fat! So tasty.

So tasty that I forgot to snap a photo before I started eating

I was holding my stomach when we finally left. Good present, T-bone!

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