Cooking up a storm in Chiang Mai.

A Lot of Thai:

I will admit it, I am one of the few people who doesn’t really like Thai food. Fish sauce and I will never be friends, even when I mask it under a litre of soy sauce and coconut milk is a bit too creamy for me to ever love. My friends who have visited Thailand have all loved the food and Pinion is definitely a fan. Having spent over a month here I am nearly a convert and today has done wonders for that.

Pinion and I ready to cook:

DSC06093One of my good friends had visited and fallen in love with Chiang Mai, she gave us a list of must do’s whilst in this small and friendly city. A cooking course with Yui from A Lot of Thai was top of the list.

We got picked up from our guest house in their retro VW camper and whizzed around the old city picking up the other cooks for the day. Once we had collected everyone Kwan, Yui’s husband, drove us out to their house just outside the old city. They have converted their carport into an outdoor kitchen, with stations fully equipped for 10 budding chefs. Each station had a gas hob, a wok, a chopping board and knife. Yui’s assistants spent the day clearing up and preparing the stations for each new dish. It basically meant we got to do all the fun bits of cooking without having to clean or prepare anything!

Cooking stations and the VW:

DSC06088Food already prepped for a dish:

DSC06114The dishes:

We made enough food that Pinion and I didn’t go out for dinner that night. First up was Pad Thai. A Thai staple that I hate due to its combination of egg and fish sauce. Luckily Yui was happy to accommodate my fussiness and let me use a tiny amount of fish sauce and instead replace it with soy sauce :-). It turned out well and was a delicious breakfast, I guess any Thai person would not be impressed but at least I can make it at home.

My slightly altered Pad Thai:

DSC06096I was already starting to feel full, the others had only eaten half of their first dish in what I now think was a tactical plan to be able to eat more later but could also to have been to disguise the fact their dish was not so good (clearly they used too much fish sauce). We returned to put stations to cook up green and red curries. Yui has a great way of describing the cooking process and different ingredients. She loves what she does and had to stop a couple of times on a later dish cause she was so excited. The red and green curries were delicious, unfortunately the Pad Thai was haunting me and I could only manage a few spoonfuls of my creation.

Pinion’s green curry:

DSC06103Feeling stuffed we were glad that the third dish was a lighter papaya salad. As with apparently all thai dishes it still required copious amounts of palm sugar and fish sauce. Despite this is it still tasted light and fresh, in contrast with the one I had tasted in a restaurant. I’m not a salad fan and i’m not sure if this is something I would bother with at home, despite this it was still pretty tasty.

My papaya salad:

DSC06104It was already nearly 3pm by this point and it was time to say goodbye to those on the half day course. We all went to the local market where Yui picks most of her ingredients each day. She showed us a lot of new herbs and fruits as well as some of the stranger things on sale, like the century eggs that were buried underground for 100 days.

The local market:

DSC06112We returned to Yui’s house to cook the final three dishes, and despite being close to popping these were awesome. We made one of my favourite dishes of chicken with cashew nuts, this literally took about 4 minutes to cook. The spring rolls were a highlight of the day, must be my Scottish genes loving the deep fat frying. We finished off with sticky rice and mango, an awesome dessert. The extra three dishes only cost an extra £6 (300 Thai Baht) and these were definitely the best tasting dishes of the day.

Chicken and cashew nuts:

DSC06117Sticky rice and mango:

DSC06128Pinion looking distinctly un-Scottish with her lack of deep frying skills:

DSC06119The day was fantastic, as I already said it was the first time I have willingly missed dinner in many years. I’m looking forward to trying out the recipes on some friends (willing victims) at home. Maybe if I supply some Thai style cocktail buckets I will even get some compliments! The course cost around £30 (1500 Thai baht for the day), including pick up and drop off as well as everything else (Yui has published a cookbook too). If you’re visiting Chiang Mai then this is definitely a must do :).

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