We left the Chiang Mai Thai House and headed out of town to the Jasmine Rice village (apparently the type of rice used in regular Thai cooking is called “jasmine rice”, and this resort was in the middle of fields of the stuff). The resort is owned by internationally famous Thai TV chef Sompon Nabnian and his wife, and it was his cooking school in which we were enrolled for two days. Here summarized just for you is what we learned – use lots of chilies!
As a special treat, here is the recipe for the traditional northern Thai dish called Ae Khing B’um
100-102 small hot green chilies (finely chopped)
Place finely chopped small hot green chilies in a bowl and serve. Eat with a spoon.
OK, I jest, but trust me not far from the truth.
The school was near our resort and we each had a preparation area and gas burner and all the equipment we would need for each recipe (basically a knife, a coconut shell spatula, and a wok, there is not much sophisticated equipment involved in thai cookery). This was setup in a covered courtyard which also contained an air conditioned demonstration classroom. Thai food is a cross between indian and chinese, but with local ingredients and a lot more chili. Most of the dishes are prepared using a hot wok and stir-frying, but boiling is also involved, and most recipes have a fairly common base – in short it’s quick and easy and if you can get past the chili, tasty!
Day 1: We first of all spent a couple of hours learning about thai ingredients, mainly vegetables and spices of the sort which cause great alarm when confronted by them at the supermarket. There are three types of rice, a variety of wood derivatives such as lemon grass and ginza and around 300 sorts of chili. All meat and seafood can be used, there are no religious issues, but having seen several markets (more about that in a future Cambodia update) they are possibly best avoided. Of liquid ingredients, there are two, coconut milk and fish sauce (a foul smelling fermented fish juice which is a little like soy sauce). Then we were shown a demonstration of a recipe and we would go outside and try our hand at it, then eat our concoction.
Overall the first day went really well for us, it took a fair while to learn to adjust the appropriate level of chili to produce something edible.
Day 2: Curry paste filled the morning. Much pounding and sweating resulted in a sticky aromatic mess, which was to be used in our first dish. The only excitement in the day came when someone’s wok caught fire (no, not mine or Sarah’s)
What we made:
Hot and sour prawn soup
Green curry with chicken
Thai fish cakes
Fried Noodles (Sarah’s favourite Thai dish)
Minced Chicken Salad
Water Chestnuts with sugar syrup and coconut milk
Panaeng curry with pork
Chiang Mai curry with chicken
Fried fish with chili and basil
Sweet and sour vegetables
Spicy glass noodle salad
Black sticky rice pudding
We spent the final day in Chiang Mai relaxing by the pool, taking a stroll and eating durian fruit. I had been wanting to try durian for some time, it has a cult following in Asia, but due to the sulfurous stench it is prone to emitting it’s banned from many markets, hotels and public transportation. Fortunately, the helpful chef at the resort was willing to procure and prepare one for me. It is about the size of a basketball, but with big spikes, saying “stay the hell away”. Once open, the inside looks like a brain, but breaking the skin of the ‘brain’, it’s like a thick cream which tasted to me like a cross between a mango and an onion.
We left Chiang Mai on a Boeing 747 for a 45 minute flight to Bangkok. We got a meal on that!