Today, we met up early with the girls and started our full day of cooking with ScenicAsia Cooking School. The van took us to meet up with some other students, and we then split up for the people who were doing the full day farm class, and a half day class on the spot near the markets.
After a quick introduction, we were provided menus to select what foods we wanted to prepare and I was glad we were able to choose individually. That gave us a range of things to try and see each other cook. As most cuisines go, it seems as though you can simply have the foundation, and then change some last minute ingredients and you have another meal.
We then went to the markets to look at special ingredients that we would be using for the day, and learned about how each grow, and what we can use for substitutes if we cannot find the same ingredients back home. Our guide, A, was about 5′ tall, and had a very sarcastic dry sense of humor which was a little confusing at first, because of the accent and lack of emotion. But as we got to know him and his humor, he was witty, funny, clever and definitely cheeky.
We had a quick juice, and headed back to the cooking area where we boarded the bus with Yinyue, a girl from China who was joining the class with her father. We all watched out the windows as we drove through the pathways out of town, and soon found ourselves surrounded by nature and vegetables in a little oasis of a garden, complete with vegetables that we would be cooking with for the day.
We sat down for an introduction again and saw an appetizer that was so refreshing and delicious. It was a beetle nut leaf that we would take, and put a small amount of peanut, lime, ginger, and palm sugar syrup on top and eat it as a one bite serving. It was so delicious.
I chose Pad Thai (how original), Tom Yum Soup, Spring Rolls, a traditional northern Thai curry (Mok Soi? check) and Coconut Bananas for dessert. As we started to learn about the ingredients for the first dish of stir fry, we all got behind our woks after an initial demonstration, and were stressed as this little 5′ commander yelled out the instructions, always following it with faster, don’t burn your dish! Oh your dish look so ugly! Faster!
While trying to keep up, we all laughed at our dishes as we tried to keep up and fortunately there were no accidents. We then got to sit down and eat our dishes and try each other’s to see how we did. I was pretty happy with mine, yet it could have used a little more fish sauce :)
We then started our prep for our main dish of the curries, which was pretty physical. After grinding up ingredients and creating our curry paste, we were able to relax a little bit and start prepping our desserts. I chose the coconut Banana which was really interesting. After boiling bananas, and then creating the coconut milk soup that the bananas would soak in, we let it boil and steep for a bit before pouring in this beautiful purple liquid called Butterfly Pea Flower.
We then went and started our soups, and continued on to our curry. Finally it was time to enjoy our feast and it was incredibly delicious. I couldn’t believe the dishes had come from something I created (with hand holding, but still).
At night, we relaxed and walked through the night market with the girls and then headed for some drinks before bed.