These days, attending a cooking class is as de rigueur for a holiday in Thailand as having a massage or drinking cocktails on the beach. Most luxury hotels have their own cooking school facility, showcasing the food from their signature Thai restaurant and giving guests the opportunity for a hands-on cultural experience.
I recently attended a class held at the Ruen Thai restaurant in the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket. My instructor was the very charming Executive Sous Chef, Pachon Pakham, whose knowledge and enthusiasm prevailed despite having been up since 3am preparing breakfast for runners in the Phuket Marathon. Yes, some people really are crazy.
|Chef Pachon teaches me how to roll egg noodles onto spring rolls|
Being the monsoon season, the rain was bucketing down as we set up on the teak verandah of the restaurant - but what better way to spend a wet afternoon? There were four courses on the menu: Goong Hom Sabai (fried prawns wrapped in egg noodle), Tom Kha Gai (galangal flagoured coconut soup of chicken), Gaeng Kiew Wan Nuea (green curry of beef) and Yok Manee (sticky rice balls with sweet coconut flakes). And yes, I was supposed to cook them all. Then eat them all. And then have dinner two hours later.
|Sticky rice ball - yum!!|
Let me just say here that I’m not the world’s best cook. I’m average at best, and rather lazy. Which is why this cooking class is ideal for me - most of the preparation - the shopping, chopping, measuring etc - is already done, with the ingredients all presented in neat glass bowls. Ah, if only I had a kitchen assistant to hand me everything all ready to go, I’d be a MasterChef too...
|MasterChef at work|
But today I actually am. All I have to do is chop a few items - some ginger here, lemongrass there - and I’m off and cooking under Pachon’s patient tutelage. It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s confidence building, inspiring me to create my own Thai banquet when I returned home to Australia.
As part of its package, the Dusit Thani gives its cooking class guests a very smart apron as well as a comprehensive booklet called The Art of Thai Cooking, which includes all the recipes from the class. So, one green beef curry coming up.
|Look what I made!|
|And you get a certificate!|
The challenge in Australia, of course, is finding all the ingredients. I managed to get most of them in an Asian grocery store in Marrickville - but if anyone knows where to get those little pea eggplants in Sydney, can you let me know?