Posted by: kim | August 17, 2007

Cooking Thai

The popularity of Thai cooking means that there are dozens of companies offering you the chance to recreate popular dishes like green curry, pad thai, tom yum soup, spring rolls and so on. And even if you can’t cook, it’s easy, as most of it just involves mixing and stirring!

We decided to try the Gap’s Culinary Art School (Gap’s House is a small guesthouse in Chiang Mai; they do a delicious veggie buffet from 7pm to 9pm every day except Sunday). They’ll cater for all types of diets. Food, including the vegetables and the meat, fish (or tofu) is pre-chopped so you don’t have to worry about doing that either. The trip began with a visit to a local market where one of the really camp cooks explained the main vegetables, herbs and spices used in Thai cooking such as galangal, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, turmeric, the many different types of eggplant (aubergine), shallots, cumin, and the ubiquitous chillies, of course. The cooks had a tendency to act like schoolteachers, but in a comical way. They’d repeat someone’s name after explaining something, like “Isn’t that right, Christoooooophe?”

We began by looking at how to make a curry paste. (“You learn 2000 way or 1960 way? Blender, same same, mortar, too much work. I like a ladyboy, I like blender.”)

gaps culinary art school chiang mai
We were able to mix and match flavours to our preferred tastes whilst cooking. Too much soy sauce? Just balance it out with a bit of sugar. Too much coconut milk? Add a bit more stock or water. Each of us got our own workstation, but we were only ever at it for a few minutes at a time. It only takes a minute or two to make many of the dishes we tried out.
I’d recommend the course we did (900 baht per person; about US$27). It lasts from 10am to around 4pm and you get to take home the afternoon food for dinner — and you get loads of it. The picture of me is just what the two of us made for lunch. We had the veggie versions of the chicken green curry, chicken stir fry with ginger, fish soufflé in banana leaf, pad thai noodles, fish cakes, tom yam soup, jasmine rice, spring rolls (roll your own) and pumpkin with coconut custard. (Gap’s pictures.)

You also spend a short time learning how to garnish with an onion and a tomato. Quite a bit of practice is required to make your vegetable look as fancy as the demo version but we all did OK!

Most of the cooking classes will do a different course each day in rotation. So if you like the look of a particular course you may not be able to do it until that one comes around again. This might have an impact on which school you choose to use but I think most of them are of similar quality. Make sure you get a recipe book and a certificate at the end! The others on our course — Brits — seemed to enjoy it and the cooks were able to answer any burning questions you had about Thai cuisine!




  1. That all looks delicious! Looking forward to tasting you Thai Green Curry when you get back. (Nice apron, too!)

  2. Sounds like an inetresting course. I can knock up a veggie thai green curry but that’s about it! Mark

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