Chiang Mai | Thai Farm Cooking School

 
 

Class Date | September 23rd, 2017

A Day as a Thai Chef

I genuinely don’t think I have ever eaten as much as a did while learning with the Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School. What I loved about my experience is that our instructor, Ae (pronounced like Aye), was informative, the class size was <10 people, and we cooked everything ourselves.

What to Expect

Michael and I were picked up at the guesthouse, and then driven to the Ruamchok Market, which was smaller, but much less touristy than the ones I’ve been to previously.

There, Ae explained crucial ingredients to Thai cooking, like the types of rice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and of course, palm sugar.

Fun fact

Plain rice and sticky rice are differentiated by the cooking method. Plain rice is boiled in water, but sticky rice is soaked overnight and then steamed instead of boiled. So contrary to what I thought, sushi rice is actually plain rice with vinegar and sugar added. 

What You Need for a Thai Kitchen

Ingredients

Salt
Sugar
Palm sugar - soft or hard
White vinegar
Fish sauce and/or soy sauce
Oyster sauce

Special Equipment

Mortar & pestle
Bamboo steamer basket
Wok

The Farm

The cooking school has it's own farm where the host classes. It's only 45 minutes outside Chiang my via car, but that does encourage the courses to use ingredients (excluding the sauces) from the farm itself.

And once we reached the grounds, Ae gave us a tour. We were encouraged to try all of the raw ingredients before we were to cook with them. I was most shocked by the galangal, or Siamese ginger, because it's genuinely spicy, nothing like the sweet ginger I’m used to in the States.

The Class

We spent about 5 hours preparing, cooking, and then eating. But Ae was wonderful about not just explaining how to cook; she provided the history behind the methods.

For example, Michael remarked at the amount of sugar that’s in Thai cooking. Yet, as Ae explained, Thais cook with spicy chilies, sweet palm sugar, and fish sauce to help balance and marry the flavors. They do this when eating, too. For example, a perfect Thai bite should have something crunchy, creamy, and toothy.

The Food

Like I said, we ate SO much! I thought it a sham to not share some of what we made, so below are a few of the dishes we learned, and I highly encourage you to try your hand at cooking Thai, too.

Like Ae said, Thai cooking is easy! And if you no have ingredients – make them up!

The Cooking

Here is where you get the big Thai muscles. Yet, be warned! Ae was quick to note that no one can help you if chili in your eye!

To avoid a catastrophe, just cover the back of the mortar with your hand while grinding.

Curry

Curry Pastes

Red Curry Paste or Kaeng Phed

Serves 1 to 2
2 to 3 dried red chilies, soak in water for 20 minutes
2 bird’s eye chilies | Thai Hot Scale – 2 chilies::mild, 3 chilies::medium, 4 chilies::spicy
1 Tbs chopped shallot
1 tsp chopped galangal or Siamese ginger – it’s spicy rather than sweet
1/2 tsp chopped Kaffir lime peel, if you can’t find Kaffir lime, substitute it with standard lime
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 Tbs chopped lemongrass
1 Tbs chopped ginseng
1/4 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp toasted coriander seeds
1/4 tsp salt, or 1/2 tsp to keep the paste longer

Green Curry Paste or Kaeng Kiao Waan

Serves 1 to 2
2 to 3 dried long green chilies
2 bird’s eye chilies | Thai Hot Scale – 2 chilies::mild, 3 chilies::medium, 4 chilies::spicy
1 Tbs chopped shallot
1 tsp chopped galangal or Siamese ginger
1/2 tsp chopped Kaffir lime peel
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 Tbs chopped lemongrass
1 Tbs chopped ginseng
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1/8 cup chopped Thai basil
1/4 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp toasted coriander seeds
1/4 tsp salt, or 1/2 tsp to keep the paste longer

Directions for Paste

Same Same for Both

Put the cumin and coriander seeds in the mortar in pestle
Grind to a fine powder
Add the rest of the ingredients
Pound until a smooth past is made

Other Ingredients

Same Same for Both Curries

1 cup sliced eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, potato, or pumpkin – add what you like
1/4 cup bitter eggplant, if available
1/3 cup protein (chicken, beef, tofu, shrimp, etc.)
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbs fish sauce or soy sauce
3 Kaffir lime leaves | or 1 Tbs normal lime zest = 3 leaves
5 Thai basil leaves
1 cup coconut milk, 5 Tbs separated
1 cup water
1 Tbs sesame oil or vegetable oil
1 red chili, sliced, for garnish

Directions for Curry

Same Same for Both

Place a saucepan on medium heat
Pour 5 Tbs of coconut milk, 1 Tbs of sesame oil, and the curry paste in a saucepan
Stir until it’s slightly bubbly and fagrant
Add protein and vegetables
Turn the heat to high, and add sugar, fish sauce, and salt
Once the protein is cooked through, take the saucepan off the heat
Add Thai basil and Kaffir lime leaves
Garnish with red chili
Enjoy!

Soups

Tom Yam

serves 1 to 2

1 1/2 cup water
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup sliced galangal
2 chopped shallots
1/4 cup quartered tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 Tbs chili paste
1 to 5 crushed bird’s eye chilies, depends on your spice level
2 Tbs fish sauce or soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup protein (chicken, shrimp, pork, or tofu)
1 Tbs chopped green onions
1 cilantro stem
3 Kaffir lime leaves
2 tsp lime juice
2 sprigs of cilantro

Tom Kaa

serves 1 to 2

1/2 cup water
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup sliced galangal
2 chopped shallots
1/4 cup quartered tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup coconut milk
1 to 5 crushed bird’s eye chilies
2 Tbs fish sauce or soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
About 1/2 cup protein (chicken, shrimp, or tofu)
1 Tbs chopped green onions
1 cilantro stem
3 Kaffir lime leaves
2 tsp lime juice
2 sprigs of cilantro

Directions

Same Same for Both

Place a saucepan on high heat
Add water, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, tomato and mushrooms into the saucepan
Bring to a boil
Add chili paste for Tom Yam or coconut milk for Tom Kaa, and bird’s eye chilies
Flavor with fish sauce, salt, and sugar
Add protein, green onions, cilantro stems, and lime leaves
Stir until fragrant or the protein is cooked through, then take the saucepan off the heat
Mix in the lime juice
Garnish with more red chilies and cilantro sprigs
Enjoy!

Mango Sticky Rice or Khao Neow Ma Muang

Prep Time | 24 Hours+

Sticky Rice

Cups desired of sticky rice or glutinous rice
Water

Directions for Sticky Rice

Soak rice in water for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight
Wash rice until the water runs clear
Place rice in a bamboo steamer
Put the bamboo steamer over a large pot filled with water
Bring the water to an aggressive simmer
Steam the rice for about 30 minutes, or until it’s very soft
When done, keep the rice in the bamboo container until you’re ready to use it
If the rice dries out, just steam it again

Mango & Sticky Rice

1/2 cup coconut milk
1 pandan leaf, ripped into 1 inch pieces | try looking in the frozen section at an Asian market, if not, it’s okay to leave out. You can add 1 tsp vanilla extract to the water for fragrance
1 to 2 Tbs palm sugar or brown sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into slices
1 cup sticky rice, prepared before
1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

Directions

Serves 1 to 2
Put the coconut milk and pandan leaf (or vanilla extract) in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil
Turn off the heat and take out the pandan leaf
Set aside 2 Tbs of the coconut milk
Put the remaining coconut milk in a medium sized bowl
Add the palm sugar and salt, mix until the sugar dissolves
Next add the sticky rice to the bowl. Mix well, or until the sticky rice starts to lose its sheen
Now plate the sticky rice and sliced mango
Pour the 2 Tbs of coconut milk over the rice, and sprinkle the mango with the sesame seeds
Enjoy!