So, onto the actually cooking at the school! After the visit to the market, we had another 30 minute ride before we got to the Thai farm, where the cooking school is held. After a short demonstration on how to cook sticky rice, we put on aprons and straw hats (absolutely necessary in the sun!) before taking a short tour of the farm itself and saw how Thai aubergines, basil, Thai parsley, lemongrass, and other various fruits and herbs grew. As our teacher has a little paring knife with her, we also got to taste all the raw ingredients with which we would be cooking. I really found this to be one of the highlights of the class and it was the main reason I chose this course over the others held in Chiang Mai city.
Oh, and they’ve recently changed the format of their courses and on any day, you can choose the dishes you’d like to cook from this menu.
I chose to make the green curry paste and hence the green curry with chicken,
the tom yam with shrimp (the shrimp heads were added at the beginning to make a broth – nothing goes to waste),
and the green papaya salad (som tam – so refreshing with a dressing of garlic, chili, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar) and we had these first dishes with white rice and sticky rice for lunch.
There’s a bit of a story with the curry paste. At the market, we were shown some fermented prawn paste, a soft, dark pungent paste that’s similar to the Malaysian belacan but not exactly that. We were told that it’s normally added to all curry pastes but that we weren’t going to use it as many foreigners did not like it. What?! I made it a point to purchase a little bag of paste at the market (it was only 5 baht) and added it to my green curry paste with the guidance of the teacher. It gave it a wonderful flavour and a slightly darker colour as well.
After lunch I made pad thai (so fast to cook that there was no time to take step by step photos – no ketchup in this recipe!)
and mango with sticky rice (so much easier than I thought it would be! It’s sticky rice mixed with coconut cream and sugar). As we were stuffed from lunch, we packed these up into plastic bags to take back with us.
By this time, it was almost time to go home and we were all given some lemongrass tea and a little recipe book with all the recipes from the menu. I’m already being pestered to cook pad thai at home and that is what I plan to tackle this weekend.
I highly recommend this school – it’s nice to get out of Chiang Mai a little when you’ve been there almost a week. You will, of course, be expected to know basic cooking skills such as using a knife though instructions on stir-frying with a wok are given. A one day course costs 900 baht and starts at 8:30 to 9:00 with a pickup at your hotel and a dropoff time of about 17:00.
Thai Farm Cooking School
Office located at:
2/2 Ratchadamnoen Rd., Soi 5
Chiang Mai, Thailand