I was planning to go to Bangkok for the first time to visit a good friend of mine and at the same time take advantage of learning authentic Thai cooking. I was eager to know how to prepare authentic Thai cuisine and the different herbs and spices that they use. The ingredients for the chillies in Thai recipes is available in supermarkets, but for me, it is much more fun if you're going to do it yourself! I can just imagine my students taking turns in pounding and grinding all those chilli peppers and tasting it if it is hot enough. I browsed the internet for a good cooking school in Bangkok and saw Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy website. I emailed its owner, Mr. Ronald Estrada and asked him if he can reserve a slot for me on the Thursday and Friday classes. Mr. Estrada was gracious enough to accommodate my requests and looked forward to seeing me in class.
A rainy arrival in Bangkok, missing the first day of cooking class
I arrived in Bangkok on a wet Wednesday night. The next morning, I had a headache and wasn't able to participate in the morning class. I decided instead to look for the Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy. Since my hotel is within the vicinity, I walked through the streets of Bangkok with a map the cooking school provided on their webpage in my hands. It was still raining at that time and I was drenched from head to toe when I arrived at the cooking school. There was a class going on at that time but the staff was so warm and accommodating, they made feel at home right away and offered some refreshment. They contacted Mr. Estrada from the other building and in a few minutes he was there to welcome me. I explained to him why I missed the first day of class. He was understanding and then he was gracious enough to give me directions to the nearest flea market where I can buy myself a pair of flipflops after noticing that my shoes were all wet from the rain.
Not feeling well, my shoes were drenched, bought a bright colored flipflops for my feet
Second day cooking class starts with a market visit
I met my instructor at 8am at the Asoke Train Station in order for us to take a tour of the wet market nearby. There, I found the herbs and spices needed in making chillies and ingredients for the other Thai recipes. It only took twenty minutes to go around the market and savor the smell of spices and leaves and herbs. The lime leaves are heavenly. Although we do have lime trees here in the Philippines, the Thai Lime leaves are stronger when it comes to smell. After we have finished shopping for our ingredients, we went straight to school.
Learning to cook authentic Thai recipes
Upon arrival in school, there was another student waiting for us. We were given our own set of knives and apron. There was a big mortar and pestle beside my chair and a chopping board in front of me. All ingredients were already in our table (we have our own station) ready to be cut, chopped, and pounded. Our instructor showed us the technique in pounding the chillies. It was pound and grind until you get that pasty texture. You can taste if you still wanted more chillies. The red curry paste I made will be used from the recipes that I will be doing next which was the Red Curry with Chicken (Gaeng Phet Gai), followed by the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, Yellow Curry Shrimp, and the Coconut Milk Custard for dessert. Please take note that most Thai recipes have coconut milk in it.
Ready to get started, I am with the friendly instructors at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy
Ingredients for our cooking class
Having fun with the hands-on cooking class
Our Instructor was patient with us and although there were times that we would get "lost in translation", the class went on smoothly without a hitch. He let us do the chopping and cooking and just helped when necessary. It was a hands-on experience and I really enjoyed it. It is also true that you must come there hungry because you will be eating what you prepared. We prepared five dishes in the morning. Rice was provided and when you are full, they would happily place your left-over in a bag so you can take it home. You don’t have to worry about cleaning up after you are done with your work, the staff will clean it for you.
Deep-frying shrimp crackers
Satay, or as some people call it Sate, in the pan
Enjoying being the only student in class and getting more insights about the area
My classmate has just finished the morning class and I was the only student in the afternoon. And since I'm the only one there, the class was just a breeze. Again, I prepared five dishes and it all just took two hours of preparation and cooking. I was still full from the food that I've prepared from the morning class so I just asked the friendly staff to put it in a bag to-go. To while away the time (since it was still early), the instructors and I shared recipes. They also told me on where to go for good bargains and where not to go in the evening. They were all very helpful and entertaining. There was never a dull moment because even if they were talking in their own language sometimes, you will get what they are talking about. I never felt out of place. We were happily joking around and talking about Thai and Philippine culture.
Bags to-go to enjoy at home, come hungry when you come to the cooking class!
Looking forward to go back
As I left the cooking school, there was a smile on my face, knowing that it was worth the trip going to Bangkok and experience an adventure in Thai cooking. I promised them that I would be back in Thailand and I shall return to Bangkok Thai Cooking School to learn some more Thai Cuisine. Who knows, I might get the one week course wherein I can get a certificate to show off!
BookCulinaryVacations’ Q&A with Maria
- Q: What was your favorite dish?
- A: I liked the red curry chicken.
- Q: How spicy was it for you?
- A: The spiciness was tolerable. It wasn't that hot for me. I love spicy food, so I guess for me it was just okay.
- Q: How authentic was the cooking?
- A: I would call it authentic because I got to prepare the curry paste just like what they do traditionally. The ingredients used were all fresh and no preservatives were added. It's got a home-cooked goodness which will make you ask for another serving.
- Q: Which dish is most interesting to you?
- A: I would say the Papaya Salad because not only you can add other ingredients such as fruits (pomelo, mango or oranges) but you can also make your own salad dressing. Honestly, I'm not a salad lover but this salad is the exception.
- Q: Were you able to replicate these dishes at home?
- A: Yes, I was able to replicate some of the dishes here at home. The chicken satay and the Thai Fried rice were a hit for my kids who are always hungry.
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, easy to cook and my grown kids loved it!
In September 2012, Maria Lorna Rivera went to Bangkok, Thailand and took Thai cooking classes at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy. She wrote this cooking class article and shared pictures personally for BookCulinaryVacations.com.
Have you been to Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy and signed up for a cooking class? Share with us your own unique stories and pictures, we'd love to publish them here. Do send your greetings by adding your comments below.