We have enjoyed a quiet and relaxing month on the island of Koh Chang in Thailand. Koh Chang is pretty laid back, and that was what we were looking for. We did find the energy though to do some fun things, including an amazing Thai cooking class. Thai food is incredible! Simple and fresh ingredients come together quickly for flavorful dishes. If you are coming to Koh Chang, I highly recommend Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Chang Thailand.
Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Chang Thailand
Located in the Amphoe area, owner and instructor Bunny tells me she started the school eleven years ago. I was very impressed with the layout of the mostly outdoor kitchen, and the quality of the kitchen and fresh ingredients. Bunny’s English is excellent and she has so much energy! Probably where she got the nickname Bunny.
There are three choices of classes daily, and depending on where you are staying you can also get a pick up. We chose the afternoon class. This class is 1200 Baht per person (about $35 USD) and you choose one of two dishes in five categories. So between my husband and I we made ten dishes. The food is also consumed as you make it, so unlike some classes you eat it all while it is hot. I liked that. The class took about three hours. See the other offerings on the website here.
Let’s Get Cooking
At the afternoon class there were two soups offered, two curries (which included making two curry pastes), a choice between Pad Thai and Cashew Chicken and finally two desserts.
Fresh and local ingredients are the key to Thai cooking. Most of the ingredients in classic Thai food can be found in the USA and Europe, although you may need to substitute a few things. Talking about the local ingredients is one of my favorite things about taking a cooking class in most countries we visit. Bunny explained some unusual-to-me ingredients like galangal, finger root and a tiny berry-like aubergine.
I’m a sucker for coconut milk based soups, and so I chose to make the Tom Kha Kai – a Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup made with lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime, chilies, onions, mushrooms, coriander, sugar, lemon juice, fish sauce and coconut milk. It was fabulous. I will certainly make this again.
Arne chose to make Tom Yam Koong – A Hot Sour Prawn Soup. His was also delicious, made with prawns (or you can use chicken), lemon grass, galangal, onion, tomato, coriander, chicken stock, lemon juice, kaffir lime and fish sauce. Both soups quick and easy.
Arne chose the Pad Thai, a dish most people are familar with. We have made this at home and have certainly eaten it in many places around the world. The recipe at Napalai included noodles, chicken, spring onions, cabbage, egg, two kinds of mushrooms, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, dried shrimp and chili powder. In a wok it comes together very quickly.
Kai Phat Met-Ma Maung is Stir Fried Chicken and Cashew Nuts, one of my favorites. Preparing the ingredients on the chopping block took more time than the cooking. It was all simple using carrots, baby corn, onion, mushrooms, red chili, garlic, sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, chicken and cashews. This one is easy to make at home and I have already made it.
Red Curry and Green Curry are a little different in Thailand than what you might be familiar with in India. Though not difficult, it is a little more time consuming to pound the ingredients for the curry paste. These two dishes were spicier than anything else we made, even though we scaled back on the spices. If you aren’t used to the spicy chilies here, you need to be careful…it can really knock your socks off.
We started by finely chopping our ingredients for the two curries before moving to the mortar and pestle and grinding the ingredients into paste. The pounded ingredients for the red curry included red chilies, garlic, shallot, lemon grass, galangal, coriander, kaffir lime, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin and shrimp paste.
The ingredients for the green curry included green chilies, garlic, shallot, lemon grass, galangal, coriander, kaffir lime, turmeric root, pepper corns, cumin and shrimp paste.
When the curry paste was ready we moved to the woks where we added the chicken, eggplant, corn, basil, fish sauce and coconut milk.
Of course the much loved Mango Sticky Rice, Khao-Neeaw Ma-Muang, was on the menu. And this stuff is dangerous. I could eat it every day. One of my all time favorite desserts and it is so easy. We also made Banana in Coconut Milk, Buat Fak- Thawng, which tasted like a Banana Cream Pie without the crust. The freshest fruit and good quality coconut milk/coconut cream, as well as sticky rice are the featured ingredients in these desserts.
Cooking Around the World
For me, taking a cooking class in a foreign country is hands down the best way to get close to the culture of a place. Food is such an important part of people’s lives, religions and culture. Seven years ago I took a Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai. And my experience Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Chang Thailand was an exceptional refresher. And I learned some wonderful new things too. Thank you to Bunny for being an exception chef and teacher.
Thank you for reading my post Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Change Thailand. If you are coming to Koh Chang, don’t miss it. I hope you saw last week’s post Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City.
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