All that said, I have always been intimidated to cook my own Thai food. The neighborhood that I live in, the Sunset, is packed with cheap Asian grocery and produce stores and I would have all the ingredients that I need readily at my disposal. However, those Asian stores have always intimidated me. I walked through the isles staring at all the exotic ingredients, jars of chilli paste, bottles of oyster or fish sauce, dried fish or mushrooms and some other things that I did not know what they were.
So I decided to take a Thai cooking class, to hopefully shed some light on how it's all done and to break the ice between me and the myriad of tasty ingredients in Asian cuisine. I booked a class in Chiang Mai and absolutely loved it. From 9am until 5pm we went to a farmers' market, got introduced on some of the ingredients we needed for the day, bought a few things, then drove on for an hour out to a farm where we walked through the gardens with vegetables and talked about them. Then on we went cooking all day, about 6 dishes, from appetizer to desert, we ate them all and even took doggie bags with us. All this for about $30 USD.
Each student was able to choose the dishes he/she wanted to cook, and this is what I chose: tom yam gang, soup, yellow curry paste (made from scratch), yellow curry, basil chicken stir fry, pad thai noodles, papaya salad and mango with sticky rice. Below I'll give some brief descriptions of the dishes that I prepared.
The kitchen where we cooked. Each student had their own individual stove and cooking station.
And this is my first curry that I ever cooked from scratch. Modesty aside, it tasted like curries you'd buy at nice restaurants in San Francisco. If you follow the instructions carefully and have the right ingredients, it really is an easy dish to prepare.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first cooking class ever and can't wait to cook Thai food again. Although there is no shortage of excellent Thai food in the Bay Area, I think I'd still be able to surprise my guests at a dinner party with some Tom Yam soup. It's also nice to be able to whip up some pad thai in just a few minutes. I enjoyed the company I did this cooking class with: Thai Farm Cooking school, and the lovely, witty, funny teacher we had, by the name of Durian. At the end of the class, she and the driver dropped me off at my guesthouse, which was out of town and far out of the way for them and I got to have a heart-to-heart conversation with Durian, which made me like her even more.