Taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai allowed me to bring one piece of the country and its culture home with me to enjoy for the rest of my life. As a food enthusiast, learning how to make some of the most delicious dishes in thai cuisine turned out to be an invaluable experience.
Although Thailand is known about its delicious oriental food, I’d say northern Thailand and more certainly Chiang Mai has a strong reputation about the food scene. Cooking classes in Chiang Mai are a thing, as you’d see a lot of flyers advertising cooking classes. Being a foodie myself, I wouldn’t forgive myself not booking a class before I go. And that’s how I booked my class at Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School.
Choosing a cooking course:
There are a few options for those interested to participate in a cooking course. If you have an entire day to spend, I would definitely recommend the farm course. But I must warn you ; you should arrive really really hungry at the cooking school because the amount of food you are going to consume in one day is insane!
|Cook in Town (Daily)|
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Cooking 7 dishes
|Cook at Farm (Daily)|
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cooking 7 dishes
|Half Day Cook in Town (Daily)|
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
or 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Cooking 5 dishes
*There’s also the option to bring a visitor with you (who would not cook) for an additional 200 Baht for town and 400 Baht for city.
Asia Scenic Thai Cooking Class – Booking
After gathering some information and reviews from fellow travelers, I ended up choosing Asia Scenic for my culinary experien
ce. Many travel bloggers have recommended it so I thought I should give it a go.There are two places where you can enjoy your experience ; in town and in a farm, a 20 min drive away from the centre. Personally, I chose the farm experience as I thought it would be interesting to explore an organic Thai farm at the Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School
The cooking station has everything set for you. The staff in Asia Scenic’s Cooking School has all the ingredients sorted for you which makes it super easy to find everything within your reach.
The market tour
The day started with a quick trip around the Maejo Market, a local market where our cooking instructor, Sue, gave us a lovely tour. During the tour, Sue walked us around and gave us inside scoop on all the local ingredients we would be cooking with. She taught us how to distinguish the various types of rice and how to choose the best local vegetables and fruit.
After the tour was over, Sue gave us some time to explore the local market on our own. No matter how many times I visited a market in Thailand, I have always found it quite entertaining blending in with locals and being surrounded by a huge variety of exotic fresh fruit and spices. Even though it is a local market, the people are used to tourists popping in every day before visiting the cooking school. The popular Thai curry requires fresh curry paste. There are vendors making green curry paste, red curry and various other pastes from scratch in the market. Even If these could be made at home ,it is a lot easier and cheaper for families to buy from the market.
Arriving at Asia Scenic’s Farm
After we finished our little tour at the Maejo Market, we arrived at the place where magic happens, the organic farm. The setting of the cooking schools is truly incredible and If you like nature you will truly appreciate it. We were given some unique paddy hats and some chic pink aprons and Sue led us to the organic farm.
We were ensured that no chemicals are used on anything so we were free to try everything during our little tour. I was mostly impressed by the variety of basil used in Thai cuisine. In Cyprus, I have only known about one type of basil that we usually have in our gardens. In Thailand there are at least three types of basil that are mostly used as a garnish in their cooking. There’s hot basil which is mostly used in spicy stir fries, sweet basil which is used a lot in red or green curry and lemon basil which is used in soups and salads.
The Menu at Asia Scenic Cooking School
When we finished our farm tour, we all sat down around the dinner table and Sue handed us all a slip of paper with various dishes for each one to choose from. Everything had a vegetarian version too.
Specifically, these are the options to choose from when you decide to take the full day tour:
(the recipes are available for everyone If you visit their website)
1. Spring roll
1. Khaw Soi
2. Massaman Curry
3. Panang Curry
4. Green Curry
5. Red Curry
6. Green Curry Paste
7. Red Curry Paste
1. Deep Fried Bananas
2. Banana in coconut milk
3. Sticky rice with mango
|4. Stir Fried|
1. Pad Thai
2. Fried rice
3. Hot basil stir fried
4. Cashew nut with chicken
5. Pad See Uw
1. Braised Pork Noodle Soup
2. Tom Sab
3. Chicken in coconut milk soup
4. Tom Yum Koong
1. Spicy Chicken Salad
2. Glass noodle salad
3. Papaya Salad
We would all made spring rolls so there was no alternative option (but it’s really tasty so no regrets). As a soup I chose Tom Yum Koong because I like spicy. Considering I like spicy, I chose spicy chicken salad too. In the stir fried selection, I thought that it was mandatory to learn how to make the Thai specialty ; PAD THAI. I had tough time deciding which curry to cook since this is literally my favorite food of all time. Ended up with panang curry ; it’s the same as red curry but much more mild since it has added peanuts.
Asia Scenic Cooking School – A culinary journey
It was truly an incredible experience going through this culinary journey in Chiang Mai. Sue did a really good job coaching us all the time and advising us on how to achieve the desired result. She helped us choose the spicy level as each individual has different preferences. The thing with spices in Thailand compared to western world is when you say medium spicy it translates to very very spicy in our language and getting something spicy is quite risky!
We started our culinary journey with a typical Pad Thai Dish – the most popular Thai dish which is made of thin rice noodles stir fried with egg, tofu and in this case chicken and seasoned with fish sauce, sugar, tamarind, vinegar and dried chili.
After the successful attempt of Pad Thai, we then continued our Thai culinary journey with our salads. I’m definitely not a salad person but considering I like chicken and spicy, my selection was quite obvious ; spicy chicken salad. I must admit that I overestimated my tolerance towards spicy as it was way too spicy.
We proceeded with some spring rolls. Although we cooked the filling all together, we individually did the wrap and decorated our own plate.
After we finished our spring rolls and did a quick break to give our stomach some time to recover (it was still 11am) we proceeded with our soup selection. I chose Tom Yam Koong which is a sour Thai soup – an interesting combination of spicy soup and prawns.
Curry is King
There’s no way to hide my enthusiasm when I’m talking about my ultimate favorite food ever… curry! Curry comes in so many varieties in Thai cuisine that in the one month I spent in Thailand I didn’t get bored of it ever. I was literally eating curry every day. Sometimes, twice.
During the cooking class, we had the opportunity to do curry from scratch. You’d be surprised to see how much work is put during the process of making curry paste. It’s an intense, thick, moist, blend of flavorful ingredients.such as hot chilies, lemon grass and garlic.
I chose to make panang curry, it has the same ingredients with red curry with added peanuts. Peanuts make it much milder than the typical red curry.
And here is the final result :
Mango sticky rice for desert
I’m usually a chocolate person and I avoid most other things. But when in Thailand one absolutely thing you can’t miss out on is mango sticky rice! It can be found everywhere in Thailand from street vendors to high end restaurants.
It was also quite interesting to cook sticky rice and use the colored flowers we picked from garden as a natural dye for our desert. And that completed our cooking class at Asia Scenic
Contact Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School