One of the best things that we have experienced in Thailand thus far is the food. From fruits to curries to delicious noodle dishes, Thailand has it all. Learning to cook Thai food was one of the things I wanted to do while I was here. When I was out with some friends we met at the Chiang Mai Hash, I told one of the Thai girls about my desire to learn to cook Thai food. She then insisted that Brandon and I come to her house so that she could teach me. She then asked me what I wanted to learn first. I told her I would love to learn to make Pad Thai and also maybe some type of curry. She told us to meet her at the food market the next day.
We arrived at the market, so that I could see the types of ingredients that she was purchasing for the dishes. She showed me the different cuts of meat and various spices and veggies that we would need. We loaded up and purchased everything for under $10.
Not knowing where her house was, we had taken a tuk-tuk to the market. This turned out to be a problem, as there weren’t many taxis around the market area and she had ridden a scooter there. After looking around for a taxi, she said it was ok that we could all ride on the scooter together. This was very comical. There we were, one tiny Thai girl driving with the two of us sitting on the back. Brandon was barely hanging on the back, and his feet were almost dragging along as we rode through the streets of the city. This was definitely an experience we will never forget, but you know what they say… “when in Thailand…”
We arrived at the house and Mat laid everything out and got me situated. She then told me how to cut the various ingredients to prepare the two dishes. We decided to make Pork Pad Thai and Chiang Mai Curry. I prepared everything and she showed me how to properly season each dish. We used sauces and spices I have never seen before. We also used a bit of brown sugar for both dishes, which I later learned was specific to the northern region of Thailand.
As the pork for the curry was marinating, we started to cook the Pad Thai. This was the first time I ever used a wok. As I was cooking the meat and beginning to add the various other ingredients, Mat told me to put more strength into my stirring and flipping. The flavors began to blend together and the smells made me want to stop and eat it all right there. We sampled it and then placed it into a container to allow the flavors to blend a bit more.
Next up was the Chiang Mai Curry. This was my favorite dish. We had marinated the pork for a few minutes and started by filling a saucepan with a spicy paste-like substance. Once this was melted and spread around, we added all sorts of sauces and a thick coconut sugar that was the consistency of super thick honey. After we added the pork meat, nuts and ginger we let the mixture sit for a half hour. You can let it sit longer, but 30 minutes was enough time for the meat to cook and become tender.
As we finished the dishes we went outside to eat in the garden. The meal was the best meal I have had in Chiang Mai by far, and the best part was that I cooked it! It was an awesome experience and I can’t wait for my next class.