as my quick trip to Thailand winds to a close (i’m at the airport now waiting for my flight to Beijing and then to Ulaanbaatar), i’m convinced that there are two “non-sightsee-y” must-dos in Bangkok: a) get a Thai massage (i went to the Lek Massage near the Siam Square Skytrain station twice and really enjoyed the two-hour Thai massage with hot compress, 500 baht, or less than $16, each time) and b) take a Thai cooking class.
i was on the fence about doing it but realized i had nothing planned for today, so i sent off an email early this morning to Silom Thai Cooking School and quickly got a grumpy confirmation call back within 15 minutes (granted, it was at 6:26 AM, so maybe some grouchiness is allowed for) saying their afternoon class was available. i chose this school primarily because it was one of the few open on Sundays and as a bonus had good TripAdvisor reviews and one of the dishes for today* was one of my favorites, tom kha kai! The cost for the class was 1000 baht, or about $32, which i think is quite reasonable.
*schools teach certain dishes on certain days of the week, so if you’re picky be sure to check out their websites and compare menus for the day(s) you are interested in.
there were about 20 people signed up for the afternoon class which got split into two groups. as it turns out, our chef, Chef Jay, used to live in the Bay Area so we bonded quite well. our particular group was me, a couple from Slovenia, and six or seven people from France in their 20s working at an online retail startup in Bangkok.
the class started out with a trip to the market where Chef Jay taught us about all the different types of vegetables and herbs used in Thai cooking, then we went to the school. each group had its own floor in what looked like a converted apartment building. there are two main (air-conditioned!) rooms: the eating room and the prepping room. all cooking takes place in the outside corridor, each person with their own stove. you cook your own food and man, i had a blast!
believe you me (and them) when they say don’t eat too much before class because you will have more food than you know what to do with (i couldn’t even finish everything! me! unable to eat! ikr?). all the schools advertise that you will learn a large number of dishes in the span of a number of hours (which is true), but what they don’t tell you (and now it makes sense) is that some of the work is already done for you. at times i felt like Sandra Lee in that you are using some prepped (but, unlike her, not bought) ingredients, though you actually do quite a bit. in any case, i feel quite accomplished given that everything we made was so delicious — as a non-cooker, i astounded even myself.
and now, the pictures!
if you’re going to Thailand, this is a great (and affordable) way to spend a morning or afternoon — who can turn down fun and food? not me! i can’t say for sure if i will ever cook anything we learned today, but it was nice to get to know the local cuisine a little better — and to know it’s not unattainable!
update: i have it on good authority (via a native-Cantonese twitter friend) that it’s not a “hok”:
@jonk OOOH it's a "wok caing", the "c" has a more "tsu"sound. Like to "dig up" or sound similar to "orange" in Cantonese.
— Buddhafied (@buddhafied) July 7, 2013