Cooking was not one of my favorite things to do, but eating authentic Thai food and watching it get cooked in front of me & plated in a matter of minutes, has changed that. The aroma and freshness of Thai food is both exhilarating and comforting to my senses! So this time in Phuket, while pigging out on yummy Thai food, I decided to learn the basics of Thai cooking. There are many places in Phuket and Thailand to learn cooking and I could take a class right where we were staying, at Secret Cliff. I booked a 3-course meal where I would learn to make soup, curry & stir-fried noodles in Thai style.
The next morning excited and a bit nervous, I reached the restaurant for the class and realized that it’s going to be right in the middle of the restaurant! I had imagined it would be in the kitchen, but there was a huge table all set up with fresh & colorful ingredients, pans, burners and all facing the beautiful blue Andaman sea. The chef greeted me with a huge smile and a glass of fresh watermelon-mint juice!
The whole experience – the aroma, mixing the ingredients, tasting if the dish had turned out alright, and the presentation with garnishing was incredible! As I finished my first task of making Tom Yum soup with prawns, it was time for the master chef to taste, and her verdict was “Aroy dee!” with a BIG smile and a thumbs-up. Aroy means tasty in Thai. Rewarded with the pleasure of eating what I had cooked, I devoured my first tom yum soup to the last drop! 🙂
I felt like Alice in wonderland in a fantasy of timeless Thai food! By the time I finished cooking and eating the 2nd dish of Green curry chicken, I couldn’t eat anymore and I still had the 3rd dish – Stir fried noodles to go! After a stroll around the resort I got back to cooking my favorite Pad Kee Mao also called Drunken noodles – spicy stir fried flat noodles with basil leaves & fresh green pepper.
Thai make their food look so divine and it’s mostly because of the fresh colorful ingredients, which are just cooked right, so they don’t lose their color, texture or flavor. It’s one of the easiest and tastiest cuisines that I’ve tried to cook so far. Knowledge of ingredients is an advantage in any kind of cooking but in Thai food that’s the specialty – the aromas & flavors. It is basically a mix of salty, sweet, sour, tangy & spicy flavors, mixed together as per your taste, with minimal cooking time. Cutting & preparing takes more time than real cooking. I also realized the importance of a good kitchen knife, because in Thai cooking it makes a difference as to how the ingredients are cut. I find it quite therapeutic to cut veggies in different shapes on a wooden board, arranging & organizing everything in bowls before cooking. The textures & colors are so gorgeous that all I want to do is take food pictures instead of cooking!
I’ve been trying to make other Thai dishes watching videos on YouTube. Most of them are in Thai but it’s quite easy to follow once you know the basics. More on Thai food and few of my favorite restaurants in Thailand. As a traveler I like to experience & assimilate in the culture and food of the place I am at, and learning to cook Thai food has been one of the more interesting things I’ve done while traveling. It is like creating art and has turned cooking into a fun & exciting way of life for me. And of course there’s yummy soul food at the end of it all! 🙂