To start a one-and-a-half month stay in Thailand properly, I could think of no better way to get inspired by Thai cuisine than to take a cooking class. When thinking of cooking classes, Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand reigns supreme.
For just 900 baht (~$30 US) the 7 hour class included just about everything a cooking class should: 1 hour market day tour, appetizer, soup, curry, stir-fry, dessert (all individually chosen), and a printed book with every recipe on the menu including those not prepared.
The class wasn’t the cheapest nor most expensive in Chiang Mai, but was absolutely perfect for free reign of a large menu, entire day of cooking, and proper facilities for culinary education. Sometimes the little things such as those are worth a few extra dollars to have at your disposal.
Rather than go off in greater detail about the cooking class, this entry will focus entirely on the iconic Thai Dish Pad Thai, which was my chosen stir-fry item of the day. Because when you are in Thailand, why would you bother choosing anything else?
The recipe is as below for one serving.
250 grams rice noodle (if dry, soak for 15 minutes in water to loosen)
50 grams chicken (or favorite filler)
3 tablespoon oil
20 grams Chinese chive or spring onion
1-2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
30 grams bean sprouts
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
50 grams tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
1/2 cup water
-Heat the oil over low heat, add garlic and fry for about one minute
-Add chicken (or other meat), tofu, and stir until the chicken is cooked thoroughly
-Break the egg and spread in with the chicken, stir until cooked
-Add noodles, water, and stir until water begins to boil and noodles tender
-Add fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar, stir
-Add bean sprouts and Chinese chives, stir
-Remove from heat and serve with fresh vegetables as desired. Garnish with lime juice, ground peanuts, and ground chili pepper to taste.
After sampling Pad Thai three times so far in the country, and countless times at home, I can say this recipe is a fair example of traditional Thai cuisine.
You may be wondering why I referenced tasting it at home, and that is because I have come to realize that the Thai restaurants I frequent are quite consistent in flavor to the noodle and curry dishes served here. This, sadly, may not be the case with every restaurant outside of Thailand and others may not be so lucky.
From the perspective of desirable Pad Thai, the only changes I would make would to be sure to add sufficient fish sauce and chili pepper (maybe even fresh) to the dish, as I felt the sauce was lacking a bit of pop that chili would add.
After looking over the recipe and comparing it to how we made it in the class, I realized that we were told to put in less fish sauce than called for, and might be part of my issue. It is minor, however, because the dish was still fantastic overall and will be made at home countless times in the future.
During the cooking class I made a video as the instructor prepared the dish as a demonstration. It is truly amazing that once all the ingredients are cut up the dish takes just a few minutes to cook. Incredibly easy!