Heading to Thailand in the near future? There’s one thing you NEED to add to your itinerary, apart from copious amounts of cocktails next to the beach that is. Do yourself a favour and book into a Thai Cooking Class – your taste buds won’t know what hit ’em.
Yay Thailand! Just thinking about Thai cuisine is enough to make our mouths water, so now that we’ve arrived we’re ready to sink our teeth into all things nice and spice(y).
So we set ourselves a little mission:
1) Find a nice relaxing Thai island getaway, and
2) Learn as much as we can about Thai cuisine.
Welcome to Noi’s boot camp, aka Time for Lime Creative Thai Cooking Class, where there will be sweat, there will be tears… but no blood people, those knives are sharp!
Okay just kidding! It was time to get serious… back to the basics of cooking and the essence of Thai cuisine.
The first order of the day was to wake up our senses with an introduction to Thai ingredients. We sipped and tasted our way through the flavour big boys such as tamarind, roasted chilli paste and Thai fish sauce (deelish!).
Armed with our new knowledge and tingling taste buds it was time to don our aprons, pick our battle *err cooking stations and get chopping.
And the first thing we learned was to kill it! Yep there are a few key ingredients that need a good thump with the side of a knife to bring out all their succulent flavours. And since garlic was in pretty much every dish we cooked, we had a great time giving them a good smack.
Who would have thought that cooking Thai cuisine could be such a good de-stresser?
As the scents of garlic and chilli rose around us, Noi demonstrated the proper way to chop Thai ingredients. Did you know there are two different ways to chop things like lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves?
At Time for Lime it’s called Eat Me / Don’t Eat Me Way, and generally speaking if it’s chopped small, it’s good to eat. Big chunks or thick slices are there just for flavour.
Spotted some of those bright red nuclear chillis in your dinner? Sliced in small rings means they’re good to eat. Left whole in a soup and they’re there just for flavour, so don’t eat them! You’ve been warned 😉
Now, back to the mission. Our first task for the day was to whip up a nice big batch of Panang Curry Paste. Made the traditional way it can take a long time, but many hands make light work and with everyone taking turns at the mortar and pestle it was finished before we knew it. Phew!
Quick tip: Gently toast the spices, starting with the biggest through to the smallest, before grinding. They’ll smell incredible and taste even better.
(Tip Number 2: Curry paste + hot wok + oil = A fire in your nostrils. Stand back!)
With that done it was time to prepare our first courses, two delicious fusion recipes full of traditional flavour and modern flair.
First up was the Deep Fried Green Papaya Salad. While the Time for Lime crew set to work at the deep frying wok, we learned how to prepare the sauce – sweet, spicy, sour, salty and amazingly easy to make. Just pop everything in a mortar and pestle, give it a few quick thumps and it’s ready to go.
Alongside our salad we also whipped up a batch of the famous Time for Lime Soup. The brave souls in our class ramped up this pumpkin based soup with generous scoops of our Panang Curry Paste while Sarah and I opted to keep things a bit cooler.
Later we realised that might have been a good decision, based on the laughs and splutters we heard at the other end of the table!
More delicious flavourings ensued, such as onions, garlic, ginger, fish sauce and creamy coconut milk before being whipped up in a blender.
All that remained was to choose our weapons *err I mean serving plates and practice the fine art of food presentation. Maybe we need a bit more practice? 😛
With soup and salad out of the way it was time to fire up the woks for our next course, the Panang Curry with Chicken. Our hard work at the mortar and pestle paid off; with a flash and a cough (we told you to stand back when heating that curry :P) it was ready in minutes.
While all that was happening, succulent pieces of fish were bubbling away in the wok, soon to be topped with a flavourful Thai Herb Salad. This one has to be tried to be believed.
It was almost impossible to resist those finished dishes. But we did manage to take a photo before the spoons and forks finished them off.
Looking around at the end of the class we saw some very satisfied smiles and some well cleaned plates. What’s more, we walked away with a new appreciation for Thai ingredients from Noi’s in-depth presentations and demonstrations, and we’re itching to get back in the kitchen to put this knowledge to good use. Recipes to come of course!
Heading to Koh Lanta and want to learn more about Thai cuisine? Be sure to book in a Thai cooking class with Time for Lime. Not only will you learn way more than you bargained for, but you’ll also be supporting an amazing cause…
Lanta Animal Welfare
Supported by Time for Lime and an array of amazing volunteers, Lanta Animal Welfare is a not-for-profit cat and dog rescue facility helping to take care of and control the island’s animal populations.
These guys are up for adoption and ready for there forever homes, and Lanta Animal Welfare can arrange everything to help you welcome your new friend into your home – wherever in the world that may be.
If you have time why not donate it to the cause and become part of the Volunteer team, or simply take one of the dogs for a walk to the beach. They’ll be your best friend for the day! We had a ball and it was definitely one of the highlights of our island trip. Even if it did make us miss our puppy back home. 🙁
There are many ways you can get involved or lend your support so head on over to the Lanta Animal Welfare website for more information.
These happy puppies are waiting for cuddles!