This week, I made a Tom Yum Gai (hot and spicy chicken soup) at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School. Read about my Tom Yum experience here.
Cookery school is a great value way to spend the day at 900 baht($38NZ/$28US) per person, includes hotel transfers, ingredients, class, market tour, 6 dishes, 1 curry paste and a vegetable carving session. I purposely chose to cook 6 different dishes to those I cooked at Baan Thai. If this were a science experiment, I would have repeated the dishes. You will not need to eat anything else on the day, so the price includes your meals for the entire day. A full day course runs from 9.30am to 3.30pm and runs at a good, relaxed pace. There are half day and evening classes available for those with limited time (Evening course: 800 baht. Half day course: 700 baht). No hard sell on anything at all. If you wanted to buy beer or souvenirs, you had to get up and enquire, but they were reasonable 50-70 baht for a large beer, just 100 baht for a souvenir apron. Such is the style in Chiang Mai. “Sabai sabai.”
Last year, I went to Baan Thai Cookery School for a half day class, so I’ll be comparing both of these highly rated cookery schools. You can view my review of Baan Thai over here on my blog. I had a great time and would absolutely recommend this Siam Rice Thai Cookery School to others.
I joined the class on my own, as the boys that I am traveling with couldn’t be dragged along. No biggie though as meeting new people is easy in Thailand. There were 2 couples, 2 sets of friends and just 2 singles (including me).
Our teacher came with our driver to our hotels to pick up each person in the class and he was friendly and open, making everyone feel at ease. It’s Thailand, so sexy innuendos are ubiquitous, though light hearted. I assume that if there were children or teens present though, these would be reigned in. As with many Thai tours, these classes are more entertaining than educational. Our group of 10 each got to choose 1 dish each from of the 6 catergories, a total of 27 unique dishes. One of which was a curry and we had to pound out our own curry paste. 10 indiviudal sized curry pastes were pounded out! This was much better as at Baan Thai, we made just 1 of each kind of curry paste to share.
Unlike at Baan Thai, where you only eat with your core group, and may cook with people from other groups, at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School, you spend the entire day with your core group. There was another group cooking at the same time as us but were kept separate.
The market tour was brief, with our teacher going through some of the ingredients we would be using during our day. Then we had 15 minutes to browse the markets on our own, taking photos or buying food. I preferred this portion over Baan Thai.
The outdoor kitchen setup at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School is built under shade, includes 2 sinks for “students” to wash their hands, sitting/chillout areas, dining table, cutting table, wok/cooking area. A lovely environment to cook in but it’s not a 5 star establishment. Baby chickens run around underfoot and it’s not surprising that the only meat choice we cook at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School is chicken.
I found the classes educational, even for someone who cooks and reads about food on a regular basis, but the classes are aimed towards people who have no or little experience in cooking. It’s almost foolproof and our teacher was there every step of the way. We were advised to taste each of our dishes from “big spoon”, as is the Thai way and adjust the flavours to our personal preference before plating up. I did feel that as someone who cooks, just a little too much was done for us, but I guess it adds to the experience if you don’t have to cut every single thing in a recipe. There was some cutting, but about half of the prep work is done already. All we have to do are easy cuts and the cooking.
I found the teacher at Siam Rice Thai much more clear than Baan Thai when it came to the ingredients, why we were using them, what other uses certain things had. My questions were answered and nothing was ever any trouble. Instructions were easy to follow and every person in my class passed and were awarded with a certificate. There was no certificate offered at Baan Thai. I didn’t do the class for a certificate, but it’s a nice touch.
We cooked 2 dishes, then ate, then cooked 2 more then ate, then cooked 2 more then ate some more. There was plenty of time to chat, eat and digest between each session and I never felt rushed like we did at Baan Thai. There was the feeling that we had plenty of time. Perhaps this was due to doing the full day course instead of the half day or evening course. The vegetable carving session at the end was a nice, calming activity to do before heading home.
Any food that we put plastic covers over, was automatically packaged for us to take home at the end of the day. They even told us that if we wanted to take our curries home, to keep the take away portion free from rice. Rice doesn’t travel well so that was a good tip. I took home 1 box of food plus a bag of curry.
Sticky rice is unique to the northern part of Thailand and Laos and you will see the cylindar baskets both individual sized and family sized at mealtimes all over the area. Like at Baan Thai, cooking sticky rice is not offered as part of the course. Many of the desserts feature sticky rice, but we used pre-cooked sticky rice. Our teacher explained the reasons for this and it not because cooking sticky rice is difficult, but it is time consuming as the rice must be soaked overnight. It is dry steamed (not in a rice cooker) for just 20 minutes. It would have been nice to see the end stages of the process though. Perhaps they could show us how to soak the rice, then take us step by step through the cooking stage.
There is no need to take notes or try to memorise the recipes at all as a string-bound inkjet printed booklet is included at Siam Rice Thai. This has a few pictures, but not many. No contents page makes the book a bit hard to navigate. This is the only portion where Baan Thai Cookery School wins hands down. Baan Thai included a professional printed, photographed, glossy, full colour cookbook.
If they spent a little more on a better cookbook, they would win hands down. I bet I could find them a fantastic recipe book designer too. *wink wink* *nudge nudge*
Siam Rice Thai Cookery School Tips:
- Come to class on an empty stomach
- Don’t be shy, meet new people!
- Try cooking something you love or try something new
Siam Rice Thai Cookery School Highlights:
- Pounding our own curry pastes to our own tastes
- Learning exactly how many chilies per dish to suit my personal taste
- Sky high flames when making Drunken Noodles
Siam Rice Thai Cookery School
211 Moo 13 Soy 5
Mueng, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Office : +66 53 329091
Mobile : +66 8 41773160 , +66 8 50388600
That looks like lots of fun. I look forward to a Thai dinner when you are back.
Mum? Is that you?
Yes! Your proud Mum.
Hi Mum! What would you like me to cook for you?
Money well spent!
Deep fried pork skin! That would have been my achilles heel. I would have seen that table and never made it back to class. They would have found me hours later, burping pork rinds.
The school looks like fun! The internship I did in Paris was for a similar kind of cooking school. Really geared towards people who didn’t really cook at all. I think my job was to prevent people from burning or cutting themselves (not much fear of that since I had done all the prep for them). You do still learn a lot and get exposed to different things. What a great experience!
I hadn’t tried the Thai pork rinds at that stage, but have since then. It is super cheap here in Thailand, so could become a serious addiction. A small bag costs just 10 baht/$0.32US/$0.42NZ and is available just about everywhere.
The Paris cooking school sounds like a great internship. What better way to memorize the basics and meet new people? Both as a student or a teacher.
Impressive flames! That looks like a fun and delicious class. 🙂
I practically live off Som Tum when I’m in Thailand. The food is so amazing and cheap. The best food is the cheapest! How cute is your Mum. haha!