Food and flavor are integral to the expression of most cultures. Food is not just for nourishment. Orders are prepared to celebrate an occasion, as part of religious traditions or for medicinal purposes. Tastes and cooking techniques can vary broadly from one region to the next. Food preparation techniques are just as important as the ingredients when creating an authentic dish. Food that has been prepared with love and care always tastes the best.
If you love to experience your travel destinations though food and flavor why not try a cooking class? The classes offer delicious, freshly prepared food, that you learn to make yourself.
The Thai cooking class that I attended provided a fun way to learn about the local culture through the ingredients and flavors used to make the food. There were instructors on hand to offer advice and assistance throughout the day.
The location near a white sandy beach and bright blue water offered a refreshing sea breeze and stunning back drop for our lessons.
Arriving in Phuket
Direct flights to Phuket are available from most Asian air transport hubs including Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Manilla. The airport is mainly serviced by budget airlines making Phuket a very affordable holiday destination.
I like to have a driver and a car waiting for me when I arrive the airport. I was able to arrange airport transfers via my hotel before I arrived in Phuket.
Booking a class
Read the reviews before ordering anything!
I found this class while looking for local activities on-line.
Bookings for the class can be made via the company website.
Visiting the markets
I love visiting the fresh food markets in Asia. There are always a myriad of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices. Many of which you will not see in Western countries. The spices we buy crushed up in jars are nothing compared to the fresh versions that you can buy in the market and grind yourself.
We visited the market in Old Phuket Town on the way to our class. Our guide was able to pick up the fresh ingredients that we would need for our recipes. Walking through the markets with a local guide is always a fascinating experience.
Everything in the market is freshly prepared before your eyes. The meat is chopped and the fish filleted. Spices are ground and mixed to a paste. The stalls are bursting with colorful concoctions, and dried ingredients as far as the eye can see. We saw noodles being made by hand and got to sample various things as we moved through the market.
The cooking class was loads of fun. Easy to follow recipe cards were provided. The preparation of each recipe was demonstrated by an entertaining and knowledgeable instructor prior to us making the dish ourselves.
The classroom was well thought out. Desks in the classroom were arranged in the style of a small lecture theater around the instructor's workbench. There is mirror above the workbench so that you can see exactly what to do.
My classmates and I were able to ask questions and scribbled notes on our recipe cards during the demonstrations.
After each demonstration it was time to cook. Everyone had their own work space in the kitchen. All dishes were carefully prepared under the chef's watchful eye.
Our first task was making spring rolls. We diligently chopped, ground, portioned and fried our ingredients as instructed. The smell of the fresh ingredients as our food cooked was divine.
Thai cooking is generally done at very high temperature over a gas flame. Care needs taken to cook things quickly without burning.
The contents of our pans were inspected before we roled our portioned ingredients into little spring rolls to be deep fried.
Once our spring rolls were made it was time to move back to classroom and learn how to make Tom Yum.
Tom Yum is a well known Thai soup recipe. The soup has a flavor that is salty, sour, sweet and spicy all at once. Its rich aromas and spicy taste are a perfect remedy for blocked sinuses.
Tom Yum is traditionally made with seafood (prawns).
The dishes prepared in class can be modified to suit dietary restrictions. The seafood in my soup has been replaced with chicken for this reason.
We made 5 dishes in total including a Thai Green Curry, Phad Thai and Mango with Sticky Rice for dessert.
After cooking coming eating!
We got to enjoy each of the dishes that we had prepared as they were cooked.
Sitting and eating with your classmates is a great chance to relax and chat.
It was good to compare notes the variations in the dishes that we had prepared.
We had some laughs about our dishes and decorations that did not quite work out according to plan.
The entire class left with full stomach at the end of the day.
Thai cooking at home
I have kept the recipe cards for all of the things that we made in class.
I like to bring my travel experiences to life for my friends and family using the skills and recipes from my cooking classes to prepare a delicious and authentic meal when I return home.
Finding the correct ingredients at home can be a challenge. I always like to photograph anything that I think will be difficult to find. I then take the pictures along to my local Asian grocer. Sometimes I am lucky and they have exactly what I am looking for. Other times they have been able to recommend a similar product or substitute.
Grinding up the fresh ingredients with a mortar and pestle yourself may take time, but the results are worth it!
Once you get a taste for the real thing buying jars of pre-prepared sauces and curry pastes is never as good.