A great way to emerse yourself into Thai culture is through food! On a visit to Thailand, at Phuket’s ‘Blue Elephant Thai Restaurant and Cooking School’, my cooking class began with a sit down session in a classroom setting. Our instructor, Chef Tiger, introduces different herbs and spices (chilies, galangal, lemongrass, ginger, garlic basil, mint) and explains the difference between green, yellow and red curry.
Chef Tiger then led the class on a 5-minute walk into Phuket town to the local market, guiding us through aisles and aisles of fish, seafood, poultry, beef, fruits and vegetables. A little stinky and sticky from wet seafood floors, and shocking for some of the students as they were not used to seeing a whole feathered chicken or fish heads!
Our hands-on experience includes preparing three dishes each for lunch. We each had our own stove and wok and were instructed on the culinary techniques of Thai cuisine.
One of the dishes was ‘Red curry with Basil Chicken’, Heat the oil until HOT (sizzles on the sides) then toss in the aromatics of lemongrass, ginger, garlic and onion; stir constantly, add in the chopped chicken then the red chili paste and finally add in coconut milk and simmer, add basil just before serving, yum.
Dessert was the famous mango and sticky rice!
It’s now time for the class to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor in the Blue Elephant Restaurant dining room. Consider adding a cooking class on your next visit to Southeast Asia.