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Sue loves spicy food and I like mine spicy as well as sour – we are manifestly fans of Thai food. One of the things we wanted to do in Thailand was to attend a cookery school. So we booked ourselves a full-day cooking course.

The Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School claims to be the first such school to open in Chiang Mai in 1993. Although the school’s office where we were registered was in the old city, the cooking school was located almost 20 minutes from the city center. We were taken in a passenger van to a gated compound where the chef/instructor lives and teaches. The first thing we saw was the open kitchen which, from a distance, resembled a stereotypical heroine processing facility in the jungle as depicted in many movies. The infamous Golden Triangle (No.2 opium growing region in the world after Afghanistan) is not far from where we were.cooking-1

The class was taught in an air-conditioned class room with a mirror installed at an angle on the ceiling . It allowed us to see more clearly what the chef was demonstrating. Here, he was showing us how to make Penang curry chicken, starting from scratch.

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Neither one of us had been to Thailand before and never knew the authentic taste of Thai curry. When we were cooking ourselves at home, we did not know how intense should the flavors be – always wondering what is normally done in Thailand. Well, we started learning by making our own curry paste with a mortar and pestle.

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Each of the students had his/her own restaurant-strength, gas-powered wok station.

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Our first dish was Penang curry chicken – here we were frying  the curry paste with basil and kafir lime leaves, the volatile  fragrances in the spices just burst into our faces, it was rather intense causing some of us to sneeze.cooking-7

While we lived in NYC, we went to some good Thai restaurants, e.g., SriPraPhai in Woodside, Queens.

cooking-10But for some of the other Thai restaurants, e.g., Pongsri in the Theatre district, we were sometimes wandering about the authenticity. Did they cut corners on spices or adapt a dish to accommodate American taste buds (making it sweet)?

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The school is owned and run by Sompon Nabnian who taught the second half of the course. Among other main courses, we learned Spicy glass noodle salad and black sticky rice pudding.

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I.T. was displaying some knife skills here. Very finely and evenly chopped chilis.

cooking-11Sue, stir-frying the onions, chilis, and vegetables to make a sauce to go with a piece of deep-fried fish.

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Next to the open kitchen is the dining area where we all sat to eat our own freshly-cooked piping hot dish. Everything was so flavorful, there was no MSG and no salt (except some that might be present in the fish sauce).

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My Penang Curry Chicken tasted good but it was too runny. An attempt to garnish with the chili and coconut milk did not work, evidently. By the end of the day, we ate so much curries, noodle, salad and rice pudding that dinner was not necessary.

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Another school, named Baan Thai was recommended to us by our friend A.W. and it  was also recommended by our hotel concierge. Apparently, attending a cookery school is a popular touristy thing to do in Thailand.

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One Comment

  1. I could almost smell the aroma of the thai curry chicken that you cooked. Chester would turn green with jealousy knowing you guys did a cooking class on vacation.


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