The 5 Adventures Academy worked from a remote location today and came back stuffed!
This afternoon we were under the excellent care of the CookVenture Home Cooking Studio. They teach how to cook delicious Thai food. It was a fantastic experience. We highly recommend cooking classes where you travel and this school if you’re ever in Chiang Mai.
After being picked up at our house, our first stop was the market to learn about the typical Thai seasonings and ingredients. We have eaten Thai food and have been to the Thai markets, but it was really helpful to have someone explain the market items that go into the food prior to when they’ve been prepped. We looked, touched and smelled our way through 4 types of ginger, 3 types of basil, lumpy kaffir limes, tiny green eggplants small Thai garlic and much more.
We also saw a vendor shredding the coconut to make fresh coconut milk.
The CookVenture operation is run by a woman named Praphasri and the student kitchen is the front part of her house. It was incredibly well organized, fun for all of us and engaging for the kids for 4 hours.
Before we arrived she had sent us a menu of choices to pick the dishes that we wanted to prepare and eat. Once we arrived at her kitchen, we had a quick refreshment, donned our aprons and got to work.
We were to cook (and eat) 9 different dishes over 5 courses of traditional Thai food so we needed to get going.
First up was the stir fry course – Pad See Ew for Brian and Chicken with Holy Basil for everyone else. We were slightly surprised to see 5 woks, 5 cutting boards/knives and 5 plates of ingredients laid out for us. Somehow we thought we’d be teaming up. But the kids jumped right in without hesitation. We think watching that season of MasterChef Junior paid off – the boys had never used a stove but they picked it up quickly. Soon everyone was chopping stirring and frying – and then eating.
The pride in the kids faces when they got to eat the food they’d cooked themselves was a lot of fun to see.
Brian’s Pad See Ew and CreeperPuppy’s Holy Basil with Chicken. Everyone was pleased with the results of their first course.
Next up was soup and appetizers – hot and sour soup, spring rolls and traditional Thai papaya salad which we’d seen on a lot of menus but never ordered. The kids were on team spring roll while Mom and Dad tackled the salad. Praphasri took over the deep fryer part but the kids chopped and rolled like pros. We started getting a little full from all the food – our little take home baggies were growing in number.
Next we cooked the dessert course because it had to cool and the rice needed to soak. We chose fried bananas and the classic mango sticky rice. The kids made coconut milk by soaking the shredded coconut from the market in water and squeezing out the liquid through cheesecloth. They sweetened it to use with the dessert and we used it in our next dish.
Perhaps it was also an incentive to keep everyone going through the more complicated curry making that was the real business of the day and what we would have for course number 4.
It’s easy to buy curry paste and start with that – add it to some meat, vegetables and water and coconut milk if you want and you’re good to go. You can buy the paste in every market or grocery here in Thailand and they have some of the same brands at Asian grocery stores in the States.
But today we started from scratch. Chilis, lime peel, ginger, garlic, turmeric and more get chopped as fine as possible and then mashed in a mortar and pestle until it is a smooth paste.
The kids made red curry paste while Mom and Dad made their long time favorite Pa-nang curry paste. Then, we took our homemade paste and the fresh coconut milk and turned it into bowls of chicken curry.
The pa-nang curry was polished off quickly and completely. Some of the excitement of cooking for themselves had worn off plus they’d eaten enough for a meal so the kids brought more curry home than they ate, but they created some yummy dishes. Suaram created a really nice flavor, she is getting adventurous with spice, even more so than Mom sometimes.
Last but certainly not least was dessert. It was a sweet ending to a sweet adventure. And we all got cookbooks to take home.