My friend and I were debriefing about our amazing trip to Thailand, and the top highlight for both of us was the same: It was our relaxing, delicious and interesting day at Thai Farm Cooking School.
Initially, it was a hard choice to make- there are MANY cooking classes in Chiang Mai, and they all have similar menus. I admit that Trip Advisor reviews steered me in the direction of TFCS, and the concept of their on-site organic farm clinched the deal. Thai Farm Cooking School was everything I hoped it would be and more. I left knowing that I could recreate the dishes at home with a few modifications (I don’t THINK I’ll be squeezing milk from fresh coconut, but you never know!)
Our cooking instructors for the day were Benny and Puipui. They provided a great balance of humor, great info about herbs, veggies and techniques, and guidance. Not to mention the seemless organization and coordination of the kitchen staff and instructors to set up cooking areas and ingredients between courses. And folks, there are so many courses that none of us could eat the last one, which was bagged up in the hopes we could muster up an appetite for dinner. The course ran from 8:30am until around 4:00pm.
First, we stopped at a very authentic Thai fresh food market, looking at different curries and learning how to create red, yellow and green curry pastes. We had time to walk around, grab a beer for lunch later and check out the delicacies- such as the delectable roasted locusts and larva! MMMM!!!!! Next, we headed to the farm to learn all about herbs and ingredients for the dishes. We tasted several herbs (safe! They’re organic!) and picked some veggies and hot peppers that would later be used in our curries. We were told that 70% of the ingredients we would used were picked on their farm, and 30% of the ingredients were brought in from local markets. Personally, I enjoyed making the green curry because it’s the only one that’s made from fresh peppers and fresh mini eggplant plucked from the garden instead of dry curry powder. But honestly, my friend’s yellow curry was just as addictive. Add extra green peppers from the garden for an extra dose of spice!
Finally it was time to geeeeet cookin’. Benny and Puipui had the instruction finely tuned. Directions were very clear even though many of us were making different dishes. First up was the best Tom Yum soup I have ever tasted, with shrimp. Spicy, sweet, sour in all the right proportions. Definitely add the chili jam when given the choice! Next up: Curry time. They showed us how to grind and beat our paste into submission (peppers, onions, shallots, etc) and how to add veggies, meat, paste and coconut milk to quickly whip up one tasty meal. Make a different one than your travel buddy to try as many different options as possible! Third, we made a stir-fry, where they showed us how to chop and organize ingredients: First aromatics (shallot/ garlic), next veggies, sauces and herbs. My friend made sweet and sour chicken while I made the basil chicken stir-fry. We both liked hers better, but they both brought their own flavor. What really struck me at this point is how quick it actually is to cook Thai food.
To end the meal, I made mango sticky rice which was delish and began a slight obsession. But we still weren’t finished- at the end, I made pad see-ew while my friend made spring rolls. That’s called a complete dinner for later, folks!!!
I left with a very full belly, satisfied foodie soul, and some new friends from around the globe. By the end of the day we had all bonded through a mutual love of food, and felt more than happy with the quality of our dishes. With so many busy days of touring through humid temples and action-packed days, Thai Farm Cooking School was a much-needed calm and relaxing day of cooking with knowledgeable and enjoyable people. My kinda day.
Thanks, Thai Farm Cooking School, for being the best of one of my favorite cities in the world. And for a bonus, it was GLUTEN-FREE!