A Taste of Thailand: Cooking Class as the First Order of Business in Bangkok
When I was planning for my trip to Bangkok, I came across a lot of exciting activities via KKday. One of them is the cooking class with Baipai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok. I wasn’t a fan of Thai food. I wasn’t there to learn how to cook the food I was already in love with, unlike the two couple who attended the class with me. But joining the cooking class was my way of introducing myself to Authentic Thai cuisine. I wanted to know which dish I'd want to try again outside after the lesson. So, even though I was only running on a few hours of sleep after my flight, I made sure that the Thai cooking class with KKday would be the first order of business when I arrived in Bangkok.
Wet Market Tour
The cooking class started with a market tour, and my hostel was outside the pickup area of the van. So, I was told to wait in front of the Kasikorn bank near the Or Tor Kor Market instead. I got there very early only to find out that I had been waiting in front of the wrong Kasikorn bank! But I was so lucky because I had a few minutes of free calls from my tourist SIM. I was able to connect with the direct contact person at the Baipai Thai Cooking School. They’d been accommodating. Even though I had to walk a few hundred meters to reach the right location, I was grateful. At least they still waited for me before starting with the tour!
Or Tor Kor Market is the 4th cleanest wet markets in Bangkok. It’s not as crowded as the wet markets in the Philippines that I have visited. So, it was the perfect location for a quick tour before the class itself. We stopped at a couple of stalls during the visit, and that’s where I realized that there a lot more types of eggplants that I used to know. I was also amazed by the machine that they use to extract the milk of the coconut. Even the smallest pineapples I've ever seen looked very interesting to me!
In the market, I also got to see most if not all the spices Thais use for their cooking. They even have those Tom Yum as well as Pad Thai sets that even tourists could buy so that they could bring it home. There were available spices that could last for about a year while there were also fresh ones which would only last for one week. During our tour, we sampled some of the best Thai food souvenirs like the durian chips and dried fruits like longan, mango, tamarind, and even pomelo skin. I also had one flavor of their sticky rice snacks which was similar to Philippine’s Suman filled with a banana.
I wasn’t exactly ready for the market tour. But it's a good thing that it was such a clean wet market. I could even see the janitor cleaning while we were there! But what I liked the most about the tour was our taste test of the fruits especially the super small pineapples. Indeed, it was crisper than the bigger and juicy one. It was so sweet as well that you wouldn't even mind eating the stem of the cut!
Baipai Thai Cooking Class
After our market tour, we drove for about 20 minutes to get to the Baipai Thai Cooking School. From there, we had cold lemongrass tea and a wet towel to freshen up. They informed us that we're going to cook three dishes for the day, but we were able to taste four dishes including the premade fruit dessert.We received the recipe cards which I liked and kept because I didn't have to cram into writing down anything that I have forgotten during the cooking demo. Although all the recipes were incredibly easy to replicate, I was a little afraid of messing up. In the end, the recipe card had been helpful because I wanted to cook one of the dishes when I get back to the Philippines.
We started off with familiarizing ourselves about the spices and flavors often used in Thai cooking. Unlike in the Philippines where we usually use just granulated sugar, Thais use both granulated and palm sugar. They also use tamarind paste and the fresh ones that they prepare right before cooking. It was pretty fun to learn which kind of sugar and tamarind is best for what dish. And to be honest, it’s just during this class that I learned that the clearer the fish sauce is, the better!
The cooking class proper started with the ladies of Baipai Thai Cooking School preparing all the ingredients and equipment that we needed to make the food. I liked that we were on a table surrounding the stove where the chef taught us how to prepare each dish. Since we were just a group of five, we had maximum space between each other. And since I didn't have a partner, I didn't even have to wait for anyone before my turn to use the stove. No need to hurry as well, so there was no pressure, too!
Authentic Thai Dishes
We started the session by making the Crispy Chicken Cashew (which was my favorite, by the way). The thing about joining cooking class is that you won’t have to prepare everything 100%. There were pre-cut chicken and pre-peeled onions, so everything was a breeze. After all, I don't think someone in the group still needed coaching on how to debone a chicken or peel an onion. I was amazed, though, about how easy the dish was to prepare yet it was so flavorful. I even found myself buying some Thai chili paste so that I could try the same recipe again when I get home. Probably, I'd be writing about that, soon, too!
One of the things that I learned during the class was knowing when the cooking oil is ready for deep frying. We used a wooden chopstick and stuck it to the cooking oil. Once the oil starts to bubble, that means that it’s ready already. Cool, right? The chef also said that we should leave the chicken pieces be once they're deep frying to make sure that they'd cook evenly without sticking to each other and I think that trick would work for big chunks of chicken, too.
At the beginning of the cooking class, we answered a sheet about our allergies and preferences. Although I am not allergic to pork and beef, I am currently abstaining from eating them. So, I was so delighted when they gave me grilled chicken and tofu instead. This part of cooking class focused on mixing the right wet ingredients well to produce a great tasting sauce which I think still matched perfectly with my tofu and chicken. While eating, one of my classmates' mouth was on fire because she put too much chili on hers. But I was safe. I think it’s the perk of joining a cooking class in Baipai. Even though we were doing everything together, I was still able to control the number of chilies that I was using. I was the one who’s going to have to finish it after all!
The last dish that we prepared was the famous Pad Thai. I think you've never been to Thailand if you have never tried this meal, so I was game for it! Like the other dishes, all the ingredients were already on our table by the time that we have finished devouring the Spicy Grilled Chicken Salad.
I was amazed by how fast-paced the cooking class was, yet it was still fun. I finished cooking my Pad Thai in about eight minutes, tops! Cooking the egg was my favorite part. They have a nice wok, and I guess it's safe to say that I’ve never fried an egg perfectly before, but I did it here. I was so happy because I was able to put the noodles in the egg and slide everything entirely on my plate.
I can only think about two flaws of this activity. First is that they could have done better in expanding the pickup area so there would be no chances of their students to get lost (i.e., me). Second, is that maybe they could lessen the ingredients some more if possible. I was so full at the end of the cooking class. I didn't even have to have dinner that night. Imagine eating three dishes and fruits for dessert? I could barely drink my lemongrass juice before leaving the dining area! But I guess that's not a flaw, you know. Because come to think of it, the serving means that you're getting what you paid for, right? So, I take that back. One flaw only!
Overall, I had a wonderful time at Baipai Thai Cooking Class. Everyone, including my classmates, was delightful to work with the whole time. I didn't feel left out even though I was just by myself. The assistants were very attentive and would immediately step up to guide us whenever we're struggling or feeling overwhelmed. It was hassle free! We had great food so even though I was very slow in eating because of my braces, the experience was still memorable for me.
I also loved the souvenir photos and refrigerator magnet of me holding my dish proudly. The recipe card (which comes with a stand) was also a nice souvenir. The best amongst the inclusions? The fact that I was able to ask them to take me to the Sathorn Pier instead of somewhere else! Saved my time and some baht for my next destination- The Grand Palace!
I am not kidding. I would highly recommend this to be the start of your Bangkok trip as well whether you already love or are still preparing to like Thai food. Where else to try these foods but with the locals, right? Actually, after this, I've thought that I should do this often whenever I visit a new country. Oh well! I think the activities KKday recommends are starting to affect my way of travel now! Should I be worried? There's just so many things to do I think I'm having FOMO!
Note: You can also book affordable and convenient tours and activities around the world on #KKday's website.
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