Some cooking classes that I’ve attended are memorable because of the food. Others linger in my mind because of the giant personality of the chef. This particular class at the Silom Cooking School in Bangkok, Thailand stands out because it had a large, delicious serving of both.
Our chef for today’s class was Jay. From the moment we met him and traveled in his wake through a tour of the market, we were swept away with his passion for Thai Food and life in general.
He kept our small group entertained with tips about which foods to eat if you suffer from constipation (hint – try the tamarind). He discussed turning your stomach into a mini personal volcano (add 3 chilies and cut them into smaller piece – kaboom!).
Everywhere he went in the restaurant where the cooking class was housed was followed by giggling and crashing of dishes, as if a little wave of mayhem was making its way behind him. We were also treated to an array of 80’s tunes as he often spontaneously burst into song. It was all very fun and infectious. And then there was the food. Lots and lots of food.
The first dish we prepared in this cooking class was a slightly spicy and creamy tom yum soup. It was full of fragrant ingredient that came together perfectly. “In Thailand, we like things to smell, so we use the nam pla (or fish sauce). But you can substitute another spicy sauce, like soy sauce, and make this at home” Jay told us.
The theme of finding ways to make Thai food accessible was a common one throughout the class. Jay: “Everyone should be able to make and enjoy Thai food.”
Next we made one of the best versions of pad Thai with shrimp that I have ever had. The sweetness and balance of the flavors played together as well as Jay did with the class. And this was the other theme – the balance sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors along with crunch and soft textures in each dish. Finding a way to orchestrate these perfectly is the magic of Thai food and the joy of it was what Jay was passionate about sharing.
We next made a creamy coconut milk laden Panang curry with chicken. By this time, the upper part of the Silom Cooking School where our 12 woks were set to high heat made for a pretty hot and humid environment. But feeling like I was getting a steamy facial with each thing we made was made well worth it by the flavor. We did get a break from the heat, by running downstairs to the cooler dining room area to sample each of our creations as soon as they were complete.
We then made a fresh green curry paste that the whole group collectively crushed using a large mortar and pestle. The resulting chili paste was added to chicken, fresh Thai green peppercorns, Kafir lime leaves and 2 types of mini Thai eggplant.
Despite the exotic ingredients, Jay assured us that with some substitutions we could find ingredients at home (wherever that may be) so that we could share the flavors of Thailand with our friends. And as this experience and Jay’s enthusiasm about it reminds us, isn’t sharing the element of the dish that really adds the most flavor?
Beyond this being a fun experience, it was also one of the most affordable Bangkok Cooking Schools. At $1000 Thai Baht (which is currently just under $30) for all five courses and a market tour, it’s a bargain.
In a huge and gracious gesture, Jay provided all of us with a book of 30 Thai recipes to bring home. And, with no surprise, readily agreed to allow me to share them with my readers. I hope you decide to try some of them yourself. If you do, in appreciation for Jay, I suggest inviting some friends, turning on some 80’s tunes, making a little noise, and thoroughly enjoying the fun and food you make together.
You can find some of the recipes from our class in our Food Finds Section. And if you’re looking for other suggestions about what to eat in Bangkok and where to find it, check out this post from fellow bloggers at Five Dollar Traveler: Bangkok Luxury Where To Eat In Bangkok
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Thank you to the Silom Cooking School for hosting us for this fantastic class. Our opinions, as always, remain our own.
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