Monday, July 9, 2012

Thailand 4 - Chiang Mai Cooking School

Chiang Mai Cooking School

The Thai cooking class has to be one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. When I first read through the tour itinary, the optional cooking class stood right out. Kat and I looked at each other and immediately agreed: we HAD to select that option.

We ended up doing the 1/2 day class at 'Thai Cottage Home Cookery School'. The class was 600 Baht, which is only about $20AUD and included a tuk tuk ride to the school. The classes are small, with only about 10 people, which keeps it small and intimate. Our teacher of the day was Cat. She was INCREDIBLE - excellent English and just so knowledgable and helpful.

There was a dining area where we left our bags and got familiar with our classmates. We were given a menu with dish options to select what we wanted to cook that day. There were quite a few things to choose from.

After everyone filled out their forms, we took a short walk to the local fresh food market. There were lots of stalls with fruit, veggies and spices. Cat explained all the ingredients and gave feasible alternatives for us to use at home, knowing we might have trouble getting our hands on some of the quirkier herbs and spices. She filled up our baskets and we then headed back to the school.

I liked Thai Cottage because it was 100% hands on. Other classes might be partially or fully demo-based but with the class we did, we got to prepare and cook all our dishes. There were enough work stations and stove tops for everyone to do their own thing.

Coconut chicken soup ingredients

The first ingredients we prepared were for the coconut chicken soup and pad thai. We sorted out the ingredients into little dishes before cooking.

Coconut chicken soup

The coconut chicken soup was a one-pot dish and so easy to do. It was a lovely, warming dish (perhaps too much for the Thai heat but perfect for Toowoomba's cold Winter) that I'd love to recreate at home.

Pad thai ingredients

I was surprised by how easy it was to cook pad thai. Wok-frying is something that has always (and still does) intimidated me.

Frying pad thai

The key is to be quick and keep everything in motion. And to have all the ingredients prepared beforehand so you can just throw things in as you need to.

Hey presto - my pad thai

The pad thai was absolutely delish. We had been eating pad thai almost at every second meal and I have to say, this one that I cooked myself was better than most I've had out. No bias there ;)

Spring roll ingredients

We all had a go rolling spring rolls. My family makes spring rolls at home and we do them tradtionally for Chinese New Years. Our filling comprises mostly of wom bok and shitake mushrooms with some shredded pork. This one was mostly bean sprouts and tofu.

Rolling away

Kat (my Kat, not our teacher Cat) was the absolute gun at spring rolling. Hers were text book perfection!

Mango with coconut sticky rice and spring rolls 

These beauties were then fried to a crisp (we each did 2 of our own). Delish. A couple of the others made mango and sticky rice instead of spring rolls and I thought that looked nice too so I took a photo.

Green curry ingredients

The last thing we cooked was the curry. I chose to do a green curry whilst Kat chose red. A couple of the others in our group chose penang curry.

Takeaway curries

By the time we finished cooking our curry, we were too full to eat it. Cat let us pack our curry and rice away into little takeaway packages to eat later. It was very thoughtful.

At the end of our class, we each received a gorgeous certificate and recipe book. The recipe book containted not only the recipes for what we cooked but also all the other dishes that we could've chosen from. There were coloured photos of the dishes and ingredients.

I think this is just a fantastic experience and I can't recommend Thai Cottage enough. The class was run with enthusiasm and expertise. It was wonderful being able to see the ingredients being collected from the market place before preparing them into delicious dishes back in the kitchen. I had a great time and learnt a lot about Thai cooking that I can truly apply back home in Australia.


  1. Gotta love a cooking school in Thailand, I recently wrote about one in Chiang Mai also which is a Lanna cooking school

  2. Hi lizzie...

    I just had a look at your post! Wow you guys had so much different food. I love that there were some of the less typical dishes. That sausage looks interesting and I'm very keen for those fish cakes.