And having the opportunity to cook and learn a completely new and different style of cuisine, is really exciting for me.
If you like cooking and/or eating too, follow me in the experience below...
The Cooking@Home-Chiangmai School.
It's true that the Classroom/Kitchen is not the most modern I've been at, but I believe that's the point. I mean, the best Thai food you can find is street food, so it makes perfect sense to cook in the open air. Besides that, it was perfectly clean and since the school is in the outskirts of Chiang Mai, we were far from the noise and fuzziness of the city, which allowed us to hear the sounds of nature and enjoy the beautiful landscape surrounding the school.
LAAB GAI - Thai Spicy Minced Chicken Salad
What I most recall of it, besides its sour and spicy flavors, was the crunchiness of the ground roasted rice that added a great nutty taste to the entire dish.
It was also extremely easy to do, so I really advise you to try it.*
DTOM YUM GOONG - Sour and Spicy Prawn with Lemon-grass Soup
It is radically different from anything you can find in western food. It contains a mixture of flavors that I had never imagined could caress my taste buds.
There are a lot of mixed feelings about it in the first spoonful. Your brain is simply not ready for what's coming, so you need to give it time to process it.
But then you have another... and another... and before you know it, it is all gone and you realize you loved it.
Its main ingredients are: prawns, thai mushroom, garlic and tomato. But the real flavor comes from the ingredients you don't eat: lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.
As you can see in the above photo, we made two types of this soup. The difference between them, is that in the one on the left, we added some Coconut Milk for creaminess and a sweet Chili paste called NAM PRIK PAO to give it some extra kick. The one in the right though is lighter and very tasty too.
PAD THAI GOONG - Thai stir fried Noodles with Prawns
Unfortunately at this point I was already really full, so didn't enjoyed it much as I wanted, but I also understand why it is the most internationally popular Thai dish. Unlike the DTOM YUM GOONG, although you can still feel the Thai flavors, it also as more western similarities, making it more familiar for our palate.
Having said that, this one was made by myself, so... I guess I'll have to taste one made by Thais.
KHAOW NEOW MAMUANG - Sweet Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
Well, that's easy. I'll simply say that is is officially my favorite dessert from the moment I had the first byte!
I know that the idea of rice as a dessert is a little bizarre for some cultures. But for me, as Portuguese, not so much because we have what we call Arroz Doce (Sweet Rice or Rice Pudding) that is rice cooked with milk, sugar, lemon zest and topped with cinnamon.
But KHAOW NEOW MAMUANG is not at all like that. It's simply steamed Sticky Rice (also called Glutinous rice), flavored with a sauce made out of Coconut milk, sugar and salt (yes salt). Then we peel and cut a ripe Mango in slices and put them next to the rice, top it with toasted mung beans and that's that. Done.
And remember that I said I was too full to enjoy the PAD THAI? Well... I repeated this dessert twice after that. That's how good it is.
That is the kind of dish that will make you start planning your next trip to Thailand while you're still there.