Thai cooking school, Chiang Mai

For our last day in Chiang Mai, we decided to try Thai cooking school. We had such a good experience cooking in Vietnam, we tried it again. And who doesn’t love Thai food?!

This lady was carving bars of soap, and selling them, every morning in the hotel lobby. The girls were absolutely mesmerized! She was very fast, too. It took about 5 minutes for her to carve one bar.

She also painted them. I loved the bright colors.

Eva chose this as her souvenir on our last day. 

Now, on to the cooking school. Riding in the back of a truck is alive and well in Thailand!

Upon arrival, we had a quick lesson about different spices and herbs commonly used in Thai cooking. Also, the secrets of making perfect sticky rice.

Next, a trip to the market. We had Thomas from France, Carrie from China, and Christina and Elbin from Texas, in our group. We really love talking with fellow travelers on our adventures. Everyone always has such interesting stories to share!

Follow the yellow brick road…..

We always enjoy exploring a market, and this one was no exception. I was especially intrigued with this “soup starter”. You buy this little bundle of ingredients, throw it in your soup base, and you have instant seasoned broth. There was lemongrass, ginger, turmeric and some other stuff.

The vegetables always look so fresh and fantastic.

Many different rice varieties.

Some very fresh fish!

Lots of beautiful and exotic fruit.

I was really intrigued with this bag of coconut, too. The coconut was finely ground and you could literally squeeze the milk out of the flesh. This was how we got the base for one of our soups.

Anyone for a crab that is still moving?

After we gathered all of our ingredients, we took a little break before the cooking began.

The first dish, gai pad med mamuang himmapan, or cashew chicken (whew!). 

We prepped the ingredients, 

then to the wok’s to assemble the dish. I slightly panicked at this part. I didn’t know my girls would have their own pan of hot oil! (In Vietnam, we prepped each dish, and a helper cooked everything.)

The staff started to help the girls cook, as I couldn’t cook and help at the same time. At one point, I was inches away from dropping the entire pan, grease and all, all over myself and Ella. I’m still praising God for saving us from that one!

After we made each dish, we sat down to eat it before making the next dish. We didn’t care for this timing much. In Vietnam, we made everything, then sat down for a big feast at the end. Since I was still reeling from my near-grease-burn-incident, I forgot to take a picture of the cashew chicken. It was very good, all things considered.  This was the pad Thai the other group made, and it was probably the best I’d had while in Thailand.

Up next, spring rolls. We also made these in Vietnam and they differed in two ways. Here, we sauteed the ingredients first rather than leave them raw. And we also used a wheat wrapper here, rather than a rice wrapper.

The girls really enjoyed the wrapping process.

When we went to fry the spring rolls, and I saw the wok FULL of hot oil this time, I had to put my foot down, the girls weren’t going near it! Not to mention everyone standing there barefoot, was definitely cringe-worthy. And, this coming from someone who is definitely not considered a safety freak!

The finished product was amazing, though!

Our next dish was tom kaa gai, or chicken in coconut milk. 

This soup was fabulous! I loved the kick from the chilies and the tangy-ness  of the lime. I will make this again at home.

And our last dish was the popular dish kao soy, Chiang Mai curry with noodles. I really loved this one too. But, I was so stuffed at this point, I couldn’t eat much more. I can’t wait to make this one, as well.

Jack fruit for dessert. It has an interesting, mild flavor.

The truck ride home was long! We had to drop off a few different people at their hotels, and we were last. It took over an hour to get back and we were hot!

Nothing like a little pool time to combat the heat.

Ahhhh, at last!

So, although the food was good, we did not care for the pacing of the cooking school and would not recommend it for kids. As I was cooking, I thought “I’m on vacation, what am I doing over a hot stove?” So, we may take a break from cooking class for awhile. (I went to a cooking class in New Orleans with my sisters, and it was more of a demonstration. The man cooked while we ate, drank and were merry. I think that is more my speed.)

Anyway, Matt had the great idea that we should take the overnight train to our next destination, Bangkok. That experience deserves its own blog….


  1. belann
    May 19, 2015 / 12:51 am

    Sounds very interesting, but I kind of freaked just being the aunt of the girls, especially since I was burned quite severely with hot oil at one time. Glad you learned some things and nothing bad happened.

  2. Amara
    May 19, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    Yeah, hot oil is nothing to mess around with! Very interesting how different the food is between Thailand and Vietnam, when I think of them as so similar here. I'd like to do a cooking class on vacation, but only in a well air conditioned room and with no kids to worry about! But once again, you created an amazing memory for them. Looking forward to the next post!

  3. Jeff Jonsson
    May 19, 2015 / 6:16 pm

    Bangkok is going through a lot of political turmoil at the moment. It will be interesting to see if you encountered it.

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