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Learning to Cook in Chiang Mai

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April 24, 2014 / Thai / By
Ryan Dickinson

When I moved to Sukhothai, Thailand to teach English I moved into a one room apartment without a kitchen. Instead I had a mini-refrigerator  which I used to store fruit and a hot-water heater that I used to make tea and oatmeal. In lieu of any other options I ate all of my meals in either my school's cafeteria or at one of the five restaurants/food stands within walking distance of my apartment. And, as a result, I developed a love of Thai food without knowing how to make it for myself. As my time in Thailand drew to an end I realized I needed to learn how to create my favorite dishes so I could continue to enjoy eating quality Thai food and so I could share a part of my experiences with my family and friends. 

So, on my third to last day in the country, I booked a cooking course at Sammy's Organic Thai Cooking School. It had pretty great reviews on Tripadvisor and I liked the idea of learning to cook on an idyllic setting like a farm. I was picked up at 8:00 in the morning and was met by five other solo travelers (three girls from the United States and a girl and a guy from France). From my hostel we headed to a local market where we met up with our guide, Sammy. Sammy showed us around the market and took the time to show us how coconut milk is made.

 

After looking around the market for awhile and picking up the ingredients we needed to make our meals we headed to Sammy's farm. Once we arrived Sammy gave us a tour of his farm and showed us the fruits, herbs, and flowers in his garden. He was especially proud of his toilet, which he claims is the most beautiful in Thailand!

Next Sammy led us to our cooking studio where we prepared for the day's adventure. We were all able to choose between several options and make our choice of a soup, a curry, an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. More than anything I was looking forward to making Som Tam (papaya salad). First, however, we started by making our curries. I was the only one who had chosen to make jungle curry, the others had chosen to make yellow and green curry. Before we cooked the curry we made the curry paste - by crushing chilies, herbs, and various seeds in a mortar with a pestle. 

After our curries were finished we made our soups and main courses. I chose to make Tom Yum Goong and stir fried chicken with cashew nuts. The other travelers chose to make dishes like Thai vegetable soup and Pad Thai. Sammy's wife helped us prepare our ingredients and led us through every step of the process. 

When our first three dishes were finished we sat down to eat lunch. Sammy served us lemongrass tea and we chowed down. Since everyone was incredibly friendly with each other we were able to try each other's meals. My favorites were the Tom Yum Goong and the yellow curry. After lunch we took about a hour and a half break. We lounged on the hammocks on Sammy's patio chatting and snoozing. Then, after our break, it was time for us to make our appetizers and desserts. I selected to cook papaya salad and mangos with sticky rice while some of the others decided to make chicken in pandanus leaves, spring rolls, pumpkin custard, and bananas in coconut milk. Yet since there were so few of us we all got to take a turn making each other's deserts and appetizers. The hardest part of the afternoon was wrapping the pandanus leaves around the chicken bites. 

For me, the day ended with a bang. Learning to make papaya salad was the last thing I needed to check off my bucket list in Thailand. It is without a doubt one of my all time favorite dishes. After we finished eating our final meals we headed back to the city, exhausted from the work and the sun. I cannot recommend Sammy's Organic Thai Cooking School highly enough. It was the perfect combination of being enlightening, entertaining, and memorable.


Sammy's Organic Thai Cooking School

Country: Thailand

Province/State: Chiang Mai

City: Chiang Mai

Address: N/A

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: N/A

Website:N/A

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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