No stranger to cooking classes in Bangkok, I tried out yet another during my latest trip to Thailand. What can I say, I love Thai food, I love Bangkok, and being taught how to cook there bumps up my personal appreciation of the culture. This time around I went to Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy. In what looks like an annex building beside a mechanic’s garage/parking lot†, I spent the afternoon there pounding and dicing away ingredients in a small cozy class of four students.
Act 1: Tom Kha Gai – Chicken in Galanga and Coconut Milk.
Galanga (aka blue ginger), lemongrass, lime juice, oyster mushrooms, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaf, and chicken. SO easy to make!
Seeing kaffir lime leaf makes me once again mourn the loss of my herb garden which I had at my balcony a few years ago, destroyed by a caterpillar invasion. Sigh. The kaffir lime leaves were the caterpillars’ fave and the first to go. Sigh again. So now whenever a recipe calls for kaffir lime leaf, I have to buy an entire packet just to use like, what, a couple leaves. Would’ve been nice to still have that herb garden around…
This afternoon I saw a really beautiful butterfly fluttering at my balcony. A majestic-looking one with white and yellow wings. I’ve always been baffled by how butterflies and caterpillars somehow could make their way up to a high floor. Either way, being randomly visited by a butterfly in unexpected places is always a good sign (as long as my balcony is breeding fat ugly caterpillars no mo’).
Act 2: Por Pie Tord – Fried Spring Rolls.
One of my earliest memories of growing up in my parents’ house is helping my mom roll up these shredded veggies and ground meat spring rolls with my tiny toddler hands. Believe you me, I’d only spent a total of four years continuously living together with my parents so doing mundane stuff together as a family is considered a rarified occurrence in my so-called life. Therefore yep, I didn’t have a normal average childhood like everyone else, but I sure can roll a mean spring roll that’s tightly tucked and uniformly sized. (Well, almost.)
Act 3: Gaeng Panang Gai (Panang Chicken Curry), including preparation of the Nam Prik Gaeng Panang curry paste.
I’ve been taught how to make this dish before and yes, the same elbow grease is required to bang away in order to make the curry paste. The time spent and aggression unleashed will be worth it though, as this peanut-y chicken curry is so fragrant and gratifyingly yummy. I will keep this in mind the next time I’m feeling irritated and need to go on a bitching rampage; I shall picture the offender’s head being pounded to a pulp with my stone pestle. }:]
Act 4: Khao Neaw Moon – Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice.
Our class instructor made and demonstrated this one, because one batch can feed the entire class so it didn’t make sense for everyone to be steaming tiny lumps of glutinous rice separately. I would have actually liked to try to my hands on making this myself rather than just watching the instructor make it, as this is something I can see making again and again at home. I’ve tried a couple times before, but either because I didn’t do it correctly or didn’t have the proper equipments, my glutinous rice didn’t came out as fluffy. -_-
Hmm, I should attempt making this again and post an Instagram video of it. Are you following me on Instagram yet!!?!?!?!
You notice I’m not posting recipes of these dishes, because I’m too lazy to type them out and you can easily look them up online anyway. I probably will make these at home again and make short videos for your viewing pleasure, when time allows.
I think I’m done, for now, when it comes to preparing traditional Thai dishes the ‘manual’ way. I don’t really see myself pounding away at ingredients to make spices from scratch anymore (like I used to). These days I cook for solo consumption, occasionally for two on weekends when I’m up for it, so the basic premise is it’s much more effective to use a pre-mix. I know, I know… purists may gasp in horror. I’m not done with cooking instructions yet though, that’s for sure – in fact, I already have my eyes set on a couple other cooking schools with contemporary menu blending both Thai and Western ingredients and techniques which I’m eager to check out next time I’m in Thailand again. I am ready to level up! I need something more challenging!
† Oh, it looks like they’ve just moved to across the street from the previous garage/parking lot, and classes are now held in a nice Thai house with more classrooms and a nicer cooking area. I got this info from their Facebook page. See the class schedule, daily menu, and fees on Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy website.