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Cooking with Asia Scenic

Countryside cooking class in Chiang Mai

I have never been a very good chef, but like many of you, I really love the food in Thailand. I heard that my friend Pim had started work at a Cooking school in Chiang Mai. After talking to her, I got the chance to visit Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai.

Even though the Cooking school is located in the centre of Chiang Mai, it feels like a country-side cooking experience. Their small Thai garden, and Thai style building transports you to a peaceful and simpler lifestyle.

 

Asia Scenic offer both half-day and full-day cooking classes in the city, or at their farm about 20 minutes outside the city. I didn’t have enough time to take part in the full-day class. If I have another opportunity to visit, I would absolutely take the chance to visit their 1,6 acre farm to experience the authentic life in the countryside.

 

Full-Day vs. Half-Day Cooking Experience

The class started off by introducing ourselves and this made the cooking class immediately feel more personal. If you join the class alone, it’s always nice to be welcomed into the group.

After our introductions, we got to choose what we wanted to cook. I was not prepared at the many options that were waiting for me!

There are a total of 7 different categories to choose from, and each category has several different dishes. In the full-day class you learn six different dishes, from six different categories, and in the  half-day class you make five.

 

The categories

  • Stir fry
  • Salad
  • Soup
  • Dessert
  • Curry paste
  • Curry
  • Spring rolls

 

What I liked the best about Asia Scenic’s cooking class was that once you’ve learned to make one type of stir fry, you can easily make other kinds as long as you have the recipe. The same principle was applicable on all the different dishes. Luckily Asia Scenic sent us all home with a beautiful cook book with ALL the recipes from the Cooking School, even the ones we didn’t make.

 

Happy to have done 5 dishes on my own without burning anything!

 

After we’d decided on what to cook, Pim took us on a tour around the Thai garden. She showed us the different herbs and spices that are found in all Thai people’s gardens. It was a lot of fun tasting and smelling the different herbs, some of which I’d never seen before!

Before heading to the local ‘Som Pet’ Market, we had a small appetiser called “Ming Khum” meaning One bite wrap. It’s made from several natural ingredients wrapped in a leaf and you eat the whole thing in one bite, thereby its name.

 

Our appetiser Ming Khum – One bite wrap
Pim, teaching us about different herbs in the garden
The local market was small and colourful. Rim showed us different types of rice and fruit, freshly grated coconut and some spicy curry paste. And then, it was time to cook!

The dishes

My Cooking Class chose to cook a Stir fry (Pad Thai), dessert (sticky rice with mango), curry paste and curry (Penang Curry) and spring rolls.

My favourite two dishes in Thailand are Pad Thai and sticky rice with mango. I was excited to learn how to make them, so that I could re-make them back home on a cold winter day. With Pim’s instructions it was actually easy! Maybe I’m not such a bad chef after all.

 

Pad Thai, cooked by yours truly
Sticky rice with fresh mango

 

Pad Thai may be the most famous Thai dish among western visitors. It’s a kind of noodle stir fry that you can find in the street stalls for around 30-40 baht. It can be made as fully vegetarian, or you can use chicken or seafood. The spring rolls are made in a very similar way to the Stir fry, but it’s used as filling. The roll is then deep fried for a few seconds before it is ready to be eaten.

 

Preparing the filling for the spring rolls
Ready to be eaten!

 

We were taught how to make sticky rice the Thai way, and then we used the flower ‘Butterfly Pea’ to naturally colour the rice purple. Sticky rice with mango is a popular dessert in the summer when mangos are in season.

I’ve never liked curry too much since it tends to be too spicy for me, so I chose to cook the Penang Curry, which is the least spicy option. It was quite a challenge to make the curry paste using only a mortar and pestle, but with a joint effort we finally got a smooth curry paste. (I might cheat and use a blender at home.) But once the curry paste was done, it was actually very simple to make the curry.

 

Raw ingredients for the curry paste
Curry paste is ready to be made into curry!
Penang Curry ready to be eaten!

 

After learning how to cook traditional Thai food I really believe a cooking class is the best souvenir you can bring with you home. Not only is it a unique experience, but it’s something you can re-live with your family at home however many times you want. I will definitely be cooking Pad Thai for us next time we have a kitchen!

 

How to get there:

Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School is located near the East Gate (Tha Phae Gate) in Chiang Mai. You can take a red Songthaew from within the city centre to the gate. This should cost you 20 Baht. From there it’s 5 minutes on foot.

If you’re staying within the city centre, you can get picked up for free within 3 km from Asia Scenic.

 

Dates and cost:

Available every day.

Half-Day Course in the city: 800 Baht

Morning: 09:00-13:00

Afternoon: 17:00-21:00

Full-Day Course in the city: 1,000 Baht

Full-Day Course at the farm: 1,200 Baht

09:00-15:00

 

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