It’s no great secret that Thai food is delicious. With the unique flavours of delicate lemongrass and sweet kaffir lime, the creaminess of coconut milk and the fieriness of chillies, Thailand is arguably home to some of the world’s most tasty ingredients.
Bangkok, therefore, is any food lover’s paradise. Whether you’re eating Pad Thai for a bargain on the streets or devouring a Green Curry in the restaurants, the flavours of authentic, fresh Thai food will linger on your taste buds long after you’ve flown home, unpacked your suitcase and put your photos on Facebook.
To save yourself from camping out at the local Thai restaurant in your hometown, learning to cook in Bangkok is a must-do activity. Not only will you have a fantastic day and eat some delicious food, you’ll also be able to take a little slice of Thailand back home with you.
There are countless cooking schools to choose from, but if you’re looking for something a little different with a feel-good factor, then May Kaidee’s Cooking School is a good choice.
Based in her vegetarian and vegan restaurant, May Kaidee provides a cooking school that makes food so good it will have both meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters craving more. Moreover, after learning about May Kaidee’s rags-to-riches story and encountering her welcoming, joyful attitude, you’ll be more than thankful that you chose to part with your money here.
The class, which takes place everyday, costs 1200 baht (approximately $40AUD – not cheap for Thailand, but well worth the price) and includes a recipe book for the meals you make in class, a bottle of water, and a whole lot of fun.
The morning lesson starts at 9am with an introduction to common Thai ingredients in the welcome coolness of the air-conditioned restaurant. After making curry paste and singing the May Kaidee song, the class heads out onto the streets to shop for ingredients. The first stop is to buy wheat paper wrappers from a woman who has not had a day off in over 20 years. She supplies her wheat wrappers to most of the nearby restaurants and hotels, and a day off would mean a chance for a competitor to step in and take her place.
The next stop is the produce “market”. Admittedly, this is not much more than a man selling vegetables from a small table, but don’t let that put you off – the exclusive environment means that the teacher has plenty of time to discuss the various vegetables that will be featured in the recipes. After learning about morning glory and ear mushrooms and tiny eggplant, the class heads to the supermarket for the final lesson in common Thai sauces and brands.
On returning to the restaurant, the cooking begins. The staff prepare the ingredients to save time on chopping, meaning that you get to focus solely on getting the flavours and consistencies right. The next couple of hours of the class are made up of a mixture of making the meals while leaning over a bubbling, sweat-inducing wok, and eating the meals while lounging in the refreshing, air-conditioned restaurant. By 12pm you’ll be a master of Tom Yum Soup, Tom Kha Soup, Issan Vegetables, Fried Vegetables with Ginger and Cashew Nuts, Pad Thai, the most delicious Peanut Sauce to ever cross your lips, Masaman Curry and Green Curry. You’ll also be ridiculous, gluttonously full.
Next up comes the making of fresh Spring Rolls and Papaya Salad. Somehow, you’ll find room in your expanding bellies to eat these, too. The wheat wrappers for the Spring Rolls are an interesting variation from the more common rice wrappers, and the fresh rather than fried approach means you’ll be feeling a little less guilty about reaching for just one more.
Eventually, the class wraps up with some traditional Thai dancing followed by the love-it-or-hate-it Thai dessert of mango sticky rice. You’ll then have the option to purchase a full recipe book (recommended) before taking any leftovers with you and heading back out to enjoy Bangkok’s busy streets.
Photos by Shardae Grenfell
Featured image by Pittaya Sroilong