‘More chilli, more sexy.’ I shovelled five more mini red chillies into my curry under my instructor’s watchful eye, before sabotaging my cooking partner’s dish with secret spice – much to my instructor’s approval. My bravado was something I’d regret later.
We’d selected our ingredients from the local market where spiky durian, swollen purple aubergines, stalks of pak choi, dried salty sardines in bamboo baskets and fanned meats steaks were laid out on blue plastic canvas sheets. Our guide, who was at pains to have us pronounce his name as ‘Shet’, showed us how to select the freshest vegetables, herbs and spices we would need to cook up some authentic Thai cuisine.
On the shopping list was lemongrass, bean sprouts, elephant ear mushrooms, three types of basil, white onions, hot galangal roots, coriander, garlic, baby corn, kaffir limes, mint, tamarind, eggs, chicken, shrimp, tofu, squishy mangoes, coconut milk, glass noodles, sticky rice and of course, red and green chillies.
We prepared everything from scratch, mashing up the famous red and green curry pastes with a pestle and mortar, and finishing dishes by sprinkling in the vital fish sauce, ground peanuts, sugar and lime for flavour. We created the favourites of chicken pad Thai, deep fried vegetable spring rolls, hot and sour fish soup, spicy seafood Tom yam soup, coconut milk curries, with mango sticky rice for dessert.
Below are a few recipes for you to recreate your own, with some alternatives if you can’t source all the ingredients. Don’t forget to be sexy!
Chiangmai Smart Cook Thai Cookery School, 400 Baht (£8) for 4 hours and three courses. Visit their website at
http://www.chiangmaismartcook.com for more details.