On my first night in Chiang Mai, Ryan, Jenny and I took a fantastic cooking class. The Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School typically offers a farm visit + class option, but also runs the occasional night class. We opted for the night class, since we had plans during the day to explore Chiang Mai.
In any case, we headed down the block from our guest house around 5 and met up with a number of other Americans and two very lovely French girls. My brief “je parle un peu de francais” convinced one of them that I could understand her, which made for a very funny evening.
In any case, we picked from a menu, and immediately set down to work. There were three options at each stage, so Jenny, Ryan and I divided and conquered. Here are Ryan and Jen with their sprigs of lemongrass, about to be made into curry pastes:
And the mortar and pestle:
I made a red curry paste, while Ryan did a green one; Jen whipped up the massaman (delicious). Here’s the green-in-progress.
The end product of red curry paste was a little underwhelming – it didn’t quite fill the small bowl I’d been given. I may have mortar-and-pestled it into oblivion:
With the curry pastes prepped, we each made a different curry – vegetable green curry, vegetable red curry and chicken massaman. I think Jenny’s massaman turned out best, but I also really liked Ryan’s green (even though he thought it was too spicy). The red curry was a little too dry for me, I would have liked to have added more coconut milk and water; remember it for next time.
Here are Ryan and Jenny under instruction from our super nice, diminutive assistant teacher. She had lived and worked in the US for a while, so her English was excellent. When we asked her, “where did you live in the US?” she replied, “Baltimore” which of course got Ryan excited. His first question? “Do you like the Ravens? Ray Lewis?”
She broke out into the Ray Lewis dance; we were laughing hysterically, and Ryan was in love. Absolutely hilarious.
With the curries finished, we were onto our soups. Jen made a coconut milk chicken soup, while Ryan and I both made tom yum with shrimp. The tom yum was really simple; I could easily re-create it in the U.S. – but again, I thought the chicken might have been a little tastier (the creaminess of the coconut milk is hard to beat.)
A happy soup chef:
One of the french women and I were shunted off to the secondary cooking station, under the guidance of the Thai Ray Lewis (versus the main table, who were being taught by a nice guy). We got along great and laughed a lot, despite the obvious language barrier. I was proud to be able to tell her that an eggplant was an “aubergine” – guess I haven’t forgotten all of my French…
She was nice enough to take a few photos of my pad thai in process. This was far and away my best dish. The sauce is kind of complicated by the dish itself is deceptively simple. A definite make-at-home, especially if I can get the sauce pre-made (yep, I’ll admit to taking shortcuts).
And, last but not least – it was time to eat! Here’s a happy Ryan…
We made mango sticky rice and sweet banana spring rolls for dessert, which we ate mostly out of politeness and curiosity – we were all SO full. 3 hours after we’d started, the 10 of us said goodbye (adieu to the French) and waddled home, happy.
Next up: Chiang Mai market, street food and a waterfall trip.