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Review and Recipes from the Thai Farm Cooking School, Thailand

We hope you enjoyed attempting some of the previous recipes from our Yangshou Cooking experience, so following on from this we’ve decided to tempt you even further with another review of our second favourite cooking course undertaken whilst travelling in Asia.

Helen had previously experienced a Chiang Mai cookery school programme when visiting Thailand back in 2004. Her experience then was good and gave her a real taste for Thai food and cooking, she did find it very inspirational indeed. This time around, Dave having never visited Thailand before was keen to do a cooking class and Helen wanted to have another go too! This time though we were looking for a class that offered something different from the everyday schools in Chiang Mai, and we came across the Thai Farm Cooking School.

We chose this particular school because it is located around 17km outside of Chiang Mai on a beautiful farm where they grow their own vegetables, herbs and organic fresh ingredients to cook with. They have two kitchens prepared for groups to cook aswell as a lovely outside eating area. Go to their website and take a look for yourself!!

Our guide and chef Tommy had a good sense of humour and for his age was a very well accomplished chef and teacher. We chose a curry paste from a choice of red, green or yellow, we also picked a soup dish, a noodle dish and a dessert. There were 3 different dishes to choose from in each section so the choices were good.

We chose to cook different dishes so we could taste each others food. Like the Yangshou Cooking School we each had our own prep and cooking station and Tommy would demonstrate a dish and we would follow by cooking it, he gave us many tips on spice, sauces and flavour. Too much spice would equal sexy lips!!

We both love Thai food so this was never going to be a let down for us! But it was a great day, starting off with a market tour going through the ingredients used in Thai cooking and when we arrived at the farm we had a garden tour taking us through their organic vegetable patches.

We made our own curry pastes – Dave chose a red curry and Helen a yellow one. We cooked a noodle dish each and whilst Helen cooked the hot and sour Tom yam soup Dave cooked a chicken Tom Kaa Gai.  As there was ingredients left over for the spring rolls we even got to make a few of those too!  What we couldn’t eat we took away with us for dinner later on!

This wasn’t the cheapest option of doing a cooking class in Chiang Mai as this is sighted as one of the top activities to do in the area, but it was pretty good value for money and we enjoyed the location, the chef and our tour group were all lovely too!

For a full day class we paid 1850 Thai Baht each, which is considerably more than the 1000 baht offering on their website. This works out to be around £35, which when compared to the Yangshou cooking school is a hell of a lot more!! Cost of travelling in Thailand however is considerably more than China, so for those of you on a budget there may be other cooking schools in Chiang Mai that are more appealing!

So for your pleasure we have a few recipes below, let us know if you try them!

Yellow Curry with Chicken / Tofu for vegetarian option – serves 2

Curry paste:

3 red dried chilles (soak in cold water for 15 minutes before use)
1 tbsp of chopped shallots
1tsp of chopped galangal *
1 tbsp of chopped lemongrass
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp roasted coriander seeds
1 tsp chopped tumeric
1 tsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp chopped ginger

Other ingredients:

70 grams of sliced chicken / Tofu (vegetarian)
1 cup of coconut milk
1.5 cup of water
1 cup chopped potatoes
1/3 cup of sliced onions
1 stem of spring onion
1 tbsp of fish sauce or soy sauce
1 tsp of sugar
1/4 tsp of salt

For the curry paste:

Put the ingredients for the curry paste in the mortar. Pound with the pestle until everything is mixed and ground thoroughly.

(we were doing this for at least 10 minutes!)

For the curry:
Put half cup of coconut milk in a pot and heat until boiling. Add chicken or tofu and curry paste. Stir until almost done. Add water, onions, potatoes and the rest of the coconut milk. When the potatoes are soft season with fish sauce or soy sauce, sugar and salt. Add spring onions. Serve with rice.

You can try different vegetables with this curry, we’ve tried butternut squash, sweet potatoe and courgettes, anything that will absorb the spices and flavour nicely will work. A little hint with the rice – we love to add coconut cream, cardamon and star anise to add some aromatic flavours.

* you can pick up dried Galangal from alternative supermarkets such as asian, chinese or organic.

Fried Noodles – Pad Thai

This has to be one of those dishes everyone loves from Thailand! It’s always first on the list when we arrive! There are prawns in this photograph but the recipe below is vegetarian with tofu – if you want to add prawns then feel free to do so!

Ingredients – Serves 2

80 grams rice noodles
1 cup of bean sprouts
2 tbsp of tofu, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 tbsp of chopped pickled white raddish
1 tbsp of crushed roasted peanuts
1/3 cup of ripe tamarind juice (or 2 tsp of white vinegar mixed with 3 tbsp of water)
1.5 tsp of sugar
1 tsp fish sauce or soya sauce
1 tsp of chopped Chinese leek or spring onion
1 tsp of dried shrimps
a pinch of chilli powder
3 tbsp of oil
a pinch of salt
3 cloves crushed garlic

Heat up the oil in the wok on medium heat. Place tofu and fry until crunchy. Then turn the heat down to low. Add garlic, pickled raddish, (dried or fresh shrimps optional), chilli powder and stir until fragrant. Add tamarind juice (or vinegar ) and noodles and turn the heat up to medium. Stir fry until the noodles are soft. Turn the heat down to low. Make place by moving the noodles to another side of the wok. Add the egg and scramble. Add fish sauce, sugar, salt, crushed peanuts, bean sprouts and Chinese leek and turn the heat up to high. Stir fry thoroughly until well mixed. Serve with a piece of lemon and fresh salad.

Something for the sweet toothed!

Mango with sticky rice – YUM!!!
Serves 1-2 so double your ingredients for this one!

1 cup of steamed sticky rice *
1/2 cup of coconut cream
1 ripe mango (peel, remove seed and slice)
1-2 tbsp of sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Put the coconut cream, sugar and salt in a pot. Heat until boiling. Turn the heat off. Add steamed sticky rice. Mix well together and let to cool. Serve with mango.

You can buy this dish on the streets as we did one day on our way to the train station. It’s a very sweet tasting dish but works so well with the mango.

* You can buy sticky rice online or at Asian and Chinese supermarkets. The best tips for steaming sticky rice is to soak it first in cold water for a minimum of 4 hours or even overnight. Afterwards wash the rice with fresh water at least two times. Put the sticky rice in a steamer and steam for about 30 minutes until the rice is sticky and soft. When the rice is cooked always keep it in a closed container to prevent it from drying out and becoming hard. If the rice cools you can always steam it again.

Ever so the relaxed Thai ways we love how ingredients are measured out in cups, and the old fashioned tablespoon measures! Cook things for about this or about that! Ha! but seriously the food will taste amazing! Let us know if you attempt to try any of these dishes and if you’re feeling brave you could share your photos online!


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