A Different Kind of Cooking Class

I don’t know how she does it, but Alina always seems to find these quirky alternative options to the standard tourist fare. This time it was Spicy House, a combination homestay/cooking class. For the homestay, you rent a room, and then get to eat delicious communal dinners every night. Sadly, there are only 3 rooms, and it doesn’t look like we’ll get to take advantage. The cooking class, on the other hand, has already been taken advantage of, and it was glorious. Perhaps the best part was that Alina and I were the only students, making for a really intimate experience, where we could really learn the techniques that were being taught.

We decided to do the half-day class, meaning we got to choose three items off the extensive menu. Having already made a curry in our class in Cambodia, we opted for something a little different; Pad Thai, Spicy Papaya Salad, and Steamed Bananas. It was a good choice, and our teacher, Mim, said that the spicy papaya salad was her favorite Thai dish. Before we could cook we took a short trip to a local market to get the ingredients that we would need.

DSC01032WThen while we waited for some preparations to be made, Alina and I enjoyed some fresh fruit on the porch.

DSC01034WWe started things off with Pad Thai, which turns out to be incredibly easy to make.

DSC01035WJust a few key ingredients chopped up and added to the wok at the right time, then the quintessential thin rice noodles are added with a bit of water and fried up.

DSC01037WIt was soooo much better than what we’d had in restaurants so far.

DSC01042W Many distinct flavors all appearing on your tongue, and everything was fresh we’d bought all the ingredients for our dishes at the market that morning.

DSC01043WI’m glad we made the Pad Thai first, since I was pretty hungry, and it sated me while we got to work on our desert, Steamed Bananas. These actually turned out to be the most effort intensive, as the bananas were not quite ripe, and we had to spend a long time stirring and mashing them.

DSC01044WWe added a lot of coconut milk and flour to get the right consistency, and palm sugar to get the right taste.

DSC01045WWe then made banana leaf cones and stuffed them with our mixture and put them all in steamers for 20 minutes. It smelled so good, I was glad we were about to make our next dish to tide us over.

DSC01047WSpicy Papaya Salad is another incredibly easy dish to prepare, and delicious. We grated the papaya and carrot (for coloring), and sliced up some other veggies for the salad.

DSC01048WAt the same time, we crushed up garlic and fresh chillies, making the “spicy” part. We were told that green was hot and red was very hot. Alina chose five green chillies. I chose two green and three red. My salad was spicy… After tossing the veggies together with the dressing, we moved things to plates, and sat down to enjoy while our dessert finished steaming. I was happy with the spicyness of my salad, though I’m used to that hotness more in a red curry. Interestingly, in a salad, the heat seems more fleeting.

DSC01050WAs we finished, Mim brought out our finished banana cones and sat down to eat and chat with us.

DSC01052WThe food was delicious, as usual, and we had great conversation about typical Thai eating habits, the changing local scene, and the surrounding area. She had some great tips about where we should go, and what foods we should try (as if we need to increase our list!).

As a bonus, we were presented with extensive recipe books at the end of the class. We should be able to make quite a few signature Thai dishes now, though I suspect it will take a bit of experimentation to get things just right without such a wonderful teacher guiding us along.

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