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Fresh: A Thai Cooking Class

We all have one, right? A foodie friend, who insists on cooking classes in every country they visit? πŸ˜‰

In Bangkok, mine dragged me to Ma-Sa-Man Thai Cooking School, where I learned how to make 3 of my favourite Thai dishes from scratch: pad thai, green curry chicken and mango sticky rice.

Instruction began with a walk through one of Bangkok’s many markets, where all manner of ingredients, fresh and otherwise, assaulted us from every corner. Everything from round, green eggplants that had no resemblance to any eggplant I’d ever seen before to skinned frogs to pungent spices were pitched to us by noisy market sellers.

Fortunately, it was not up to me to decipher the varied goods on display, and our teacher soon picked up everything we would need for the day’s classes. Tamarind, fragrant keffir lime, chilies, chicken, some of those round eggplants, mushroom, shrimp, tofu and bumpy galangal filled our bags.

First up – sweet and sour, tangy, pad thai. Peanuts pan-roasted to bring out their flavour, rice noodles soaked in water, and the paste that gives pad thai it’s distinct flavour, massaged out of fresh tamarinds by hand (despite the pic of the packaged tamarind paste below).

For the green curry chicken, a combination of savoury spices crushed with a mortar and pestle, Thai fish sauce for salt, the distinct flavour and aroma of keffir lime, and coconut milk not out of a can.

Delicious, if I do say so myself!

Despite not being a foodie myself, learning about Thai flavours and cooking methods was definitely eye-opening. Now I understand why the curries and pad thais I prepare here in Seoul, never taste quite the same as the ones I eat when traveling in Thailand!

Thai Cooking School
Since 2010, when I took this class, Ma-sa-man has changed ownership, and is now called Chef LeeZ Thai Cooking School. Information on courses and rates can be found on their website.

Do you take cooking classes in the countries you visit? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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33 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sha #

    I took one when I was in korea. Cooked ddeokbukki, yukgaejang and 3 different kinds of banchans (brinjal, potato and anchovies)…it was definitely fun and interesting to note the differences in cooking styles and use of ingredients. But in general, I don’t usually go for cooking classes. Like you, my cousin was the one who wanted to give it a try but I was more than happy to help eat all the food. πŸ˜„

    March 25, 2015
    • Lol…I think you know how to make more banchans than me! I can do soups, but haven’t tried making any banchans yet. Korean cooking is pretty simple though, right? And I’m not surprised that you were happy to help eat the food…. πŸ˜‰

      March 26, 2015
  2. I really wanted to take a cooking class while in Thailand but we got really sick with food poisoning and didn’t get to some of what we had planned. I love that they take you to the markets and show you what to buy.

    March 25, 2015
    • Oh no! 😦 What an unfortunate place to get food poisoning. It was really helpful to go the market together…I would never have known what was what without some guidance. Round, green eggplants? Who knew? πŸ˜‰

      March 26, 2015
  3. I took a cooking class in London that taught us how to make traditional British sweet and savory pies. Definitely a fun day, and I’d love to try more cooking classes when I travel.

    March 25, 2015
    • I’d love to learn how to make all those traditional pies as well! After I got dragged to that one, I started to appreciate the appeal, and wouldn’t mind taking a few more classes somewhere else. πŸ™‚

      March 26, 2015
  4. I am with Amanda…I have only taken one cooking class in my life in Italy….and they are so fun…I don’ t know why i don’t do it more often…the market alone would have been a blast.

    March 25, 2015
    • Italy is the one place I would absolutely LOVE to take a cooking class! I also enjoyed taking the class more than I thought I would. It was interesting to learn all about the different ingredients and flavours that are used in Thai cooking.

      March 26, 2015
  5. Through I love to eat food I am terrible when it comes to preparing it or even showing enough interest to follow it when my wife is preparing food. Once I had the chance to visit a cooking class however the chef/ teacher only looked at me and said that there is no hope for me, that my presence alone it enough to ruin the food for eveyone, well seems there is nothing to be done about it :p

    March 25, 2015
    • If your presence alone is enough to ruin the food for everyone, remind me never to let you near my kitchen. :p Lol, you’re lucky that your wife is happy to prepare food for you, otherwise you’d starve. πŸ˜‰

      March 26, 2015
      • Yeah, those years of preparing my own tasteless food are thankfully over for a long time now πŸ™‚

        March 26, 2015
  6. This sounds like an absolutely perfect activity for me while traveling! I think I would be that foodie friend. I love visiting the local markets too.

    March 26, 2015
  7. I took a cooking class in Vietnam and made crispy rice pancakes, pho, beef noodle salad and spring rolls! It was such a fun and interesting way to discover the cuisine of Vietnam and I’d love to do it again in other countries πŸ™‚

    March 26, 2015
    • Ohhhh, I LOVE Vietnamese food. Was the pho really complicated to make? That broth is so delicious and has so many different flavours in it, it seems complex!

      March 27, 2015
      • It’s not too terribly complicated, actually- it’s just a long process. The broth is boiled all day and impurities are skimmed off regularly. I remember that we added onion, lime, fish sauce and chilies for flavour.

        March 30, 2015
        • I’d love to try to make it at home, but always thought it was super complicated. Good to hear, it’s not. πŸ™‚

          March 30, 2015
  8. I am not a good cook though, but I do enjoy good food! I always like Thai food, especially that mango with sticky rice – Khao Nieo Mamuang. Was it difficult to prepare the food?

    March 26, 2015
    • Mango sticky rice is so delicious, isn’t it? It’s always one of the first things I eat, when I visit Thailand. πŸ™‚ Actually, it was surprisingly easy… a bit time consuming because we really did everything from scratch, like squeezing the tamarinds to get the paste and grating the coconut flesh to get the milk…but nothing was difficult.

      March 27, 2015
  9. I learned how to make (the ugliest ever) dumplings in the hutongs of Beijing! Ugly because I was inept at forming them into beautiful creations; mine were just lumpy blobs pinched together, but they did taste great.

    March 26, 2015
    • Lol…well as long as they tasted great, what they looked like doesn’t matter, does it. πŸ˜‰ We ate dumplings every morning that we were in Beijing and they were so delicious and so cheap!

      March 27, 2015
  10. I love Thai food, specially the three dishes you made in class. We frequent our local Thai restaurant here and declared their tom yum to be the best, but when I went to Phuket and tasted their tom yum, our local Thai restaurant paled in comparison! I wish I can do a cooking class when traveling but it seems like we are always rushing and doing something else. How long did that class take?

    March 27, 2015
    • The food of different countries never tastes quite the same when it’s exported, does it? I find that the $1 pad thai I get on the streets of Bangkok taste better than the $14 one I pay for in a β€œThai” restaurant here!! It just can’t compare. The class wasn’t too long at all…I think just the morning, maybe 3 hours total? And the best part, was that we got to eat everything afterwards of course!! πŸ˜€

      March 27, 2015
      • Maybe its the whole atmosphere, the authenticity, the water(?), the soil where the vegetables/plants are grown, even the “germs”. haha.. You got me craving now for Thai food! πŸ™‚

        March 27, 2015
        • Totally agree! We met a gelato maker from Italy, in Canada, who was using the same recipes and same ingredients, but somehow the gelato wasn’t quite the same. When we asked him why, he said “the air is different…” πŸ˜€

          March 28, 2015
  11. I’ve always wanted to do a cooking class but have never actually gotten around to it. It looks awesome though!

    March 28, 2015
    • It was a lot of fun! and it was nice to learn how to make 3 of my favourite dishes. I wish I could get the same results at home…but alas, no coconuts falling off trees in East Asia! πŸ˜‰

      March 29, 2015
  12. What a brilliant experience. I would love to learn thai. When I go in a few weeks, I’ll be sure to try and get a lesson too!

    March 30, 2015
    • You’re going to Thailand in a few weeks?! Ahhhh jealous! πŸ˜‰ It was a great way to spend a morning. Look forward to reading about your experience. πŸ™‚

      March 30, 2015
  13. Oh so exciting – I would love to learn how to cook exotic food like that πŸ˜€

    April 25, 2015

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