food · Travel

What to do in Bangkok: Cooking Immersion Class

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One of the things I was looking forward to in my vacation in Thailand is FOOD. Thai cuisine is one of the most popular and well loved all over the world and who can go wrong gorging in it in its home country?

Adding a twist to plain eating, I thought of joining a cooking class like I did in Bali. I did my research online and got dizzy with a lot of short cooking lessons being offered aimed at tourists with limited time. So which one should I pick? It wasn’t an easy task.

Going to Bangkok when the curfew is still in place (though I never felt it during my stay there), I wanted a school that is within easy reach from my place. Another thing that I gave priority to is having the opportunity to cook the dishes myself.

Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy offers Immersion Classes apart from the 4-hour Regular Classes and Advanced Classes for Chefs. Immersion class is an 8-hour class which is a recommended precursor to advanced chef classes. It is offered Mondays through Fridays with a different set menu each day. A typical menu consists of curry paste, stir-fry dish, salad, starters, rice, desserts and dips and sauces.

I thought Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy fit the bill. I sent them an email to reserve a slot prior to my arrival in Bangkok. I did not receive a response until I was already in Bangkok. I decided to register through phone instead.

The rest was history. One Tuesday morning, I was in our meeting place in Sukhumvit MRT/Asoke BTS Dunkin Donuts stall. It was easy to recognize Bangkok Thai staff who were picking us up in their uniforms.

The Market Tour

Like other cooking classes, the session usually starts with a market tour. Our teacher, Ms. Pim, took us to the local market which is just a few steps away from our meeting place. She introduced us to typical Thai ingredients and condiments. Their market and even the goods are much similar to ours in the Philippines.

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Inside the market
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The different varieties of intimidating chili!
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The Ginger family
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Let’s talk about eggplants
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Thai condiments shop

The ingredients of our menu were bought fresh from the market. After shopping, we took a taxi to school. It is not too far from the market but the uncooperative weather in Bangkok makes it a wiser choice than walking. Bangkok Thai paid for the taxi fare.

Let the Cooking Begin!

Our classroom is just right for 3-4 students. We were 3 in the class, one other lady from Italy and a guy chef from Spain. They were both taking the whole 5-day immersion class.

Each of us has his own preparation table which has our materials neatly organized. I have my own apron, knives, chopping board and yes, mortar and pestle. Just the sight of these and the thought that I’d be using them shortly excited me.

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Our preparation table
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Here’s where we get the ingredients we prepare

After a short introduction to each other and to the course, it was time to work. By the way, the menu consists of Penang Curry Paste, Penang Chicken Curry, Pomelo Salad, Stir-fry Chicken and Cashew, Fish Cake and Sweet Cucumber Dip and Thai Fried Rice.

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Baptism of fire… Making Penang Curry Paste

We prepared all the ingredients first. We ground chili using the mortar and pestle, chopped, sliced and mixed ingredients. Of course, it wasn’t hard to notice that I am a novice cook so my teacher and my classmates were nice enough to give me a little bit more attention and supervision and it was well appreciated.

After the preparations, we went to the kitchen and occupied our own cooking stations. I am proud to say I prepared all the ingredients and cooked all the food below. And I must say, they were edible, delicious if permitted to brag a little.

Can I Cook Thai Now?
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My favorite… Penang Chicken Curry
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Stir-fry Chicken and Cashew
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Fish cake topped with chili basil
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Sumptuous Thai fried rice with chicken and shrimp
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The exotic Pomelo Salad. I am used to eating it raw :p

After cooking the dishes, we were taught basic ways to plate them.

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Fish cakes… with the dip this time 🙂

And best of all, we got to partake of the meal we prepared and cooked 🙂 This was my lunch with 3 viands and salad. The white rice was complimentary. We were to cook the Thai Fried Rice after lunch.

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A guaranteed burpy meal

Obviously, the food was too much for the appetite and we were welcome to take them home with us.

Learning is Always Fun

All in all, it was a fun and educational day. I learned a lot and felt satisfied with how the class was conducted. Communicating in English was not a problem. Bangkok Thai has brought in me a different appreciation of Thai food, from just eating it to preparing and cooking it. Cooking Thai is easy, I just have to cook them again by myself until I can cook them by heart.

I feel though that at 4000-Baht ($125) per class, the price was pretty steep as we finished cooking in about 6 hours including our lunch break. The class was supposed to be 8 hours. Also, joining the class for just one day does not get you a copy of the recipe book of the dishes prepared that day. I have mine, though. How I got it is a secret :p

That said, I know that satisfaction and education has a price and at that point, I didn’t mind shelling out that amount. Bangkok Thai has kept my budding interest in cooking that it wont be surprising if I find myself in their kitchen again next time 🙂 Or in another kitchen learning to cook another international cuisine.

What about you? Have you tried taking educational vacations? Share your experience with us.

 

P.S. Pardon the blurry photos. I tried to sneak taking them as chance permits in consideration of hygiene. The food are a thousand times better tasting than it looks, though. I promise.

 

Cooking is not difficult. Everyone has taste, even if they don’t realize it. Even if you’re not a great chef, there’s nothing to stop you understanding the difference between what tastes good and what doesn’t. ~ Gerard Depardieu

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