In my eagerness to get as many posts published while internet was available long enough to get pictures to upload I missed a very important post and equally important pictures. Our cooking class at the Baan Hongnual Cooking School in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai – go north for cooking school and elephants!
Chiang Mai (translates to New city) and it looks the part. Nice, clean and modern this ‘city’ is lovely. Some of the group used our early morning arrival off the overnight train to catch the first private tour to the ‘elephant rescue’ sanctuary where they interacted with the elephants (under the guidance of their keepers). Everyone loved the experience and raved about the elephants for days!
We (four) took the opportunity to have breakfast, relax at the Hotel for an hour or two, and then head off to our cooking class at the “Cooking School”.
We were met in the lobby by our teacher, a lovely young woman named Amporn Hongnual , who spoke English and led us through the activities for our class. But first things first…we each selected our personal menu and then off to the market to buy our produce and meat for the dishes we would prepare. I chose to make Chicken in Coconut milk soup, Masaman curry with chicken,Fried chicken in Pandanus leaves and banana in coconut milk.
The market (as all markets do) captured my attention by the sheer size of it and the many opportunities for wonderful herbs, spices and delicate veggies. Baby eggplant that look like small berries, larger eggplant that resembled small baseballs (but green), herb bunches of fragrant lemon grass, coriander, and parsley, carrots that would put my own garden to shame, ripe red tomatoes, papaya, and garlic filled baskets and created bundles for take home!
The meat cutters section offered fresh chicken (and chicken blood for soup), pork, duck, fish, shrimp (choose only the long straight ones that proves they are fresh), and squid, octopus and cuttlefish. Our teacher chose beautiful fresh meats and we were on our way to the school.
A drive to the school in a local ‘taxi’ owned by the school ( a pick up truck with seats and a canopy in the back where people could sit) was fun and interesting as we wove through the small streets to the market and then on to the back roads to a small area of closely positioned houses.
I was impressed as we drove into a small lane way and stopped at a sign saying ‘Baan Hongnual Cooking School”…wow, now I can actually say I went to cooking school! There were a number of nicely laid out rooms with cutting prep tables and counters with propane single burner ‘stoves’ large enough for a pot or a wok. A hand wash station and uniforms with a chef’s hat , an apron and a hand cloth were all laid out for us and completed the venue.
Our ‘teacher’, Amporn Hongnual, whose family owns and operates the school, was a young woman who spoke excellent English with the authority of some one who knows what she is talking about… and elicited the ‘yes chef’ response on a number of occasions during our class. And, so we began…
We prepared, ate, prepared, ate,prepared ate… my four course meal started with chicken in coconut milk soup , with Masaman curry chicken , fried chicken in Pandanus leaves and banana in coconut milk..
Although I have been cooking Thai food for many years I can honestly say that I learned so much during these few hours together. I will be making Thai food much more often at home because of the experience.
A huge thank-you to Amporn Hongnual for a wonderful experience at Baan Hongnual Cooking School in Chiang Mai. Here’s the link: http://www.baanhongnual.com/