Cooking has never been my strong point. I’m inherently impatient to follow directions and the thought of doing dishes is enough to make me avoid the kitchen altogether.
I had a couple cookbooks when I first moved out on my own but they were treated just like the decorative candles on my shelves-occasionally wiped of dust and put back on display.
For a while, I brushed off my lack of cooking skills as comical and cute but the older I get, the more I realize that the issue is neither of those things.
Now, I view it as more of a crippling affair and decided to finally do something about my lack of skills in the kitchen. While traveling around the world, I have promised myself that in addition to collecting fridge magnets, I would also collect recipes too.
Yesterday I took a course to learn to cook Thai food in Chiang Mai. This is how it went….
Taste From Heaven is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant located in the old city of Chiang Mai. As a huge fan of their food, I couldn’t pass on their offer of a private cooking course for 1,000 Baht (about 30 USD.) With the company of a visiting friend, we had an exclusive lesson in the making of traditional Thai dishes.
The lesson began with a briefing on the different spices, herbs and vegetables necessary for the meals and continued on with precise cooking techniques to bring out the best in the flavors.
My friend Morgan and I both got our shot to chop, mix, season and taste test before taking the finished products down into the restaurant to devour. We even received our own recipe books to take home and re-create the dishes in our own kitchens.
For me, taking a cooking course in Thailand not only helped me gain some skills in the kitchen but it taught me the culture that is intertwined within the Thai cuisine.
If you like Thai food and want to re-create some of these vegan (you can add meat if you choose) dishes yourself, here are some recipes from my class…..
Garlic- 4 cloves
Fresh Chili- 2 pieces
Tomato-1 cut up into 4 slices
Long Beans/OR green beans-About 3 beans cut up into 1 inch long pieces
Green Papaya (can be substituted for an unripe, green mango)- peel into thin slices, about 10 grams
Carrot-peel into thin slices, about 2 grams
Roasted peanuts-1- ½ tablespoon
Lime- ½ piece
Mushroom powder-1/2 tablespoon
Tamarind sauce- 1 tablespoon
Palm sugar-1/2 tablespoon
1.) Crush fresh chili and garlic in the mortar.
2.) Cut the green beans and add them as well as the roast peanuts into the mortar and crush.
3.) Add tomato, green papaya (or green mango) and carrot, crush slightly in the mortar.
4.) Squeeze lime and put in with skin, add mushroom powder, tamarind sauce and palm sugar.
5.) Slightly crush everything in the mortar until it is mixed well, add extra seasonings to taste if you prefer.
6.) Top with roasted peanuts and serve.
Tom Yum in Coconut (A spicy Thai style sour soup inside of a fresh Thai coconut)
Tom Yum paste (Find in Asian grocery store or make your own with the following recipe): ¾ tablespoon
Fresh Thai coconut: 1
Coconut milk-40 ml
Fresh chili (crushed) 3 pieces
Galingale (A ginger-like root that can be found in Asian grocery stores. Can be swapped for ginger or omitted if you can’t find it where you live) (cut to small thin pieces)-5 slices
Lemon Grass (Cut into large pieces)-1 stalk
Coriander/Cilantro (Cut ½ inch long)- 2 pieces
Tomato (cut into 4 slices)- 1
White onion (cut into 4 small pieces)
Razor Coriander (Cut ½ inch long) (Can be omitted if you can’t find it where you live)-1 piece
Kaffir lime leaves (take out the stem)-4 pieces
Mushroom (cut in half)-4 pieces
Baby coconut tree (can be omitted if you don’t have access to this)-10 pieces cut in squares
Coconut meat ( cut into small pieces)
Mushroom stock-1/4 piece
Mushroom powder-1 tablespoon
Tamarind sauce-1 tablespoon
1.) Open fresh coconut and take out the meat and juice.
2.) Put coriander/cilantro, fresh chili and lime juice in the coconut.
3.) Add water to the frying pan, add Tom Yum paste and mushroom stock, then mix together until Tom Yum paste breaks.
4.) Once it starts to boil, add galingale, lemongrass, coconut meat, tomato, onion, kaffir lime leaves, mushroom, and baby coconut tree. Cook for about 3-5 minutes.
5.) If it is too dry, add more water and then add mushroom powder and tamarind sauce.
6.) Once you are happy with the taste, add coconut milk.
7.) Pour in the coconut, put the top of the coconut back on and steam for about 5 minutes.
Tom Yum Paste
Dry big chile (take the seeds out and soak in water for about 30 minutes until it is soft, then cut into small pieces)-30 minutes
Red onion- 1 piece
Garlic- 2 pieces
Sliced galingale- 1 teaspoon
Textured soy protein (can be omitted) 5 pieces
Tamarind sauce- 1 tablespoon
Sugar- ½ teaspoon
Salt- ½ teaspoon
Soy sauce- ¼ teaspoon
1.) Chop galingale into small bits, then roast until cooked, add into the mortar, crush into small bits.
2.) Grill garlic and onion until cooked, then cut into small pieces.
3.) Chop chili into small bits, then add into the mortar.
4.) Put peanuts, grilled onion and garlic in the mortar and crush to small bits.
5.) Add textured soy protein and salt, crush into small bits, then fry in the frying pan with cooking oil, add sugar, soy sauce and tamarind sauce. Cook for about 3-5 minutes and then turn off heat.
Red Curry Paste- ½ table spoon (Can be made with the following recipe or store bought) (Put in less for less spice but do not put in more to make it spicier. This will only make it bitter so put in fresh chilies instead.)
Eggplant (cut in half and cut into four pieces)- 1
Baby coconut tree (can be omitted) – 10 pieces cut into squares
Tofu (cut into cubes)-1/2 of a block
Sweet basil leaves (take out the stems)-10 pieces
Kaffir lime leaves (pull out the stem)- 5 pieces
Bell pepper/capsicum (cut in half and cut in 3 slices) ½ piece
Big chili (cut thin slices)- 1 piece
Coconut milk-75 ml
Water- 200 ml
Mushroom powder- ½ tablespoon
Cooking Oil-2 tablespoons
Mushroom stock-1/4 piece
Put the sweet basil leaves in a bowl to be put in at the very end.
1.) Fry curry paste and mushroom stock in cooking oil.
2.) Add coconut milk, mix curry paste and mushroom stock until they melt and then add water.
3.) Once it starts boiling, add eggplant, baby coconut tree, bell pepper/capsicum, tofu and kaffir lime leaves.
4.) Let it boil for about 3-5 minutes until it is cooked. If it is too dry and too light, add more coconut milk than water. If it is too dry and too thick, add more water than coconut milk.
5.) Add mushroom powder and sugar, once it tastes good, add the big chili and turn off heat.
6.) Pour in a bowl and mix in sweet basil leaves.
Red Curry Paste
Dry big chile (Take the seeds out and soak in hot water about 30 minutes)-5 pieces
Red onion-5 pieces
Fresh garlic-10 pieces
Sliced galingale-1 teaspoon
Lemon grass-1 teaspoon
Pepper seeds-5 pieces
Coriander root-1 piece
Kaffir lime skin-1/2 teaspoon
Roasted coriander seeds-1 tablespoon
Roasted cumin-1 teaspoon
Vegetarian paste-1 teaspoon
1.) Chop everything very small.
2.) Put galingale, lemon grass and coriander root in the mortar and crush to small bits.
3.) Add chili, red onion and fresh garlic and then crush into small bits
4.) Add salt and vegetarian paste. Crush into small bits.
Pad Thai Noodles
Rice Noodle- 40 grams
Bean sprout-10 grams
Roasted peanuts (crushed into small bits)-2 tablespoons
Garlic (crush and chop into small bits) 2 cloves
Chive (cut 1-1/2 inch long)- 3 pieces
Texture soy protein-10 grams
Tofu-cut into cubes-half of a block
Tamarind sauce- 1 tablespoon
Sweet radish-1 tablespoon
Mushroom powder-1/4 tablespoon
Chili sauce- 1 tablespoon
Pepper- ¼ teaspoon
Soy sauce- to taste
1.) Fry garlic in cooking oil until yellow.
2.) Add texture soy protein and tofu, cook about 2 minutes.
3.) Add noodles and water and fry until noodles are soft.
4.) Add sweet radish and roasted peanuts, tamarind sauce, mushroom powder, seasoning sauce, pepper and chili sauce.
5.) Once the taste is to your liking, add bean sprouts and chive, then turn off the heat and add to plate.
Mango and Sticky Rice
Sticky Rice-1 cup
Coconut milk- 75 ml
1.)Soak sticky rice in water for at least 3 hours, then drain.
2.) Add water in the steamer, then add sticky rice to be steamed for about 20 minutes until cooked (You can steam the rice by using any method you have available to you)
3.)Add coconut milk to a pot and turn to low heat. Then add sugar and salt and mix until it melts.
4.)Add cooked sticky rice to the coconut milk, mix together and let sit for 15 minutes covered with a lid.
5.) Put the sticky rice on a plate and serve with sliced mango. You can add extra of the coconut, sugar and salt mix on top at the end.