Chef Grace in Thailand

February 26, 2019

Seeing as I love food and traveling with a food theme, I figured it was probably best to take a Thai cooking class from locals while I was staying in Chiang Mai. This cooking tour was an incredible learning experience because we had the chance to talk with locals, shop from local markets, and learn how to make traditional Thai foods from scratch.

In modern-day Thailand, knowledge of traditional Thai cuisine is declining. Street food has become so prevalent and affordable that most Thai people eat street food for their meals. If a Thai person is typically rich enough to afford eating at a restaurant, they usually have the option to have their own family cook as well. In addition, in common spaces at the universities or in city apartments, there often is no stove or little to no kitchen space. Hence, the decline of knowledge. 

Our food class commenced with an introduction to the dishes by our head chef. She then took us to the local market to buy the ingredients for each dish and to explain the use of each ingredient in traditional thai cuisine. It was fascinating to learn how important fish oil and chilis are to the dishes and how coconut milk was different from coconut cream. We also took a trip to the cooking school’s garden to learn about Thai herbs and plants (such as the 3 types of basil and the uses of the kaffir lime and its leaves to bring out certain flavors). With ingredients and aprons acquired, we headed back to the kitchen to learn how to cook like a real Thai. 

I was making: Pad See Uw, Spring Rolls, Tom Sab, and green curry paste and green curry. 

The class was really fun and you learned a lot about the basics of Thai cooking, such as the different flavor groups necessary for each dish and the order in which you need to add ingredients. My favorite part was making the green curry because we were making our own curry paste from scratch. We had to grind the fresh chilis in a mortar and pestle until our teacher deemed our curry paste perfect. After each course, we sat down to enjoy our hard work while making new friends. 

After 2 hours of cooking our masterpiece meal, we all left with our own recipe books, sore arms from the mortar and pestle, and full, happy stomachs.

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