This is a story of a cooking school in Chiang Mai, called Asia Scenic.
It starts in a marketplace on the outskirts of town.
The market is alive and awash with bright colours.
If it’s fruit and veg you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.
Or maybe its eggs for next day’s breakfast you need.
Or some rice for lunch.
The butcher’s area is a blood bath, ready to turn even the biggest meatlover off their lunch.
Plastic bags swing overhead to keep the flies away.
But walking over to the food stalls and seeing all the meat prepared actually looks quite tasty.
But in this story, we’re not here to eat street food, we’re here to buy groceries to create our own meal.
And for this meal, we head to the cooking school in Chiang Mai, Asia Scenic. Well, its farm branch.
Guided by our cooking instructor A, we pick out the best produce to use in our seven course feast.
We even see a jackfruit on the vine, but thankfully we don’t pick it. It’s kind of gross. It is, however, the largest tree borne fruit in the world. And it stinks!
After our tour of the garden, we get dressed in our chef outfits. This includes an apron with the Asia Scenic logo brazened on it. And of course, no chef would be complete without his or her knife. Masterchef watch out!
First up, we prepare the appetiser. And what better appetiser than a Thai spring roll? We set to work stir frying the sprouts, chicken, herbs and glass noodles. Two of our class members have a cook off and we taste each dish afterwards to see which one was tastier. I preferred the one with less fish sauce.
Next came the tricky part – wrapping the rolls. We each wrap one and I am awarded best spring roll work of art in the class! But I’ll let you in on a secret – I don’t think it was. Still, it looked pretty neat.
After this we set to work on our next course – salads. Of our six courses, we could choose what we wanted out of three choices. For my salad, I decided on the glass noodle salad, or Yum Woon Sen. Here is the final result – ain’t it pretty!
Then it was time to prepare for our next course. I chose stir fried chicken with cashew nuts. First I chopped up the vegetables and herbs.
And then I stir fried the ingredients on a high heat with fish sauce and some palm sugar. This was the end result. It tasted as good as it looks, if I do say so myself.
Dave didn’t do too badly either – here are some of the dishes he whipped up. Fried banana is the dish on the far left.
The hot and sour Chiang Mai soup, called Tom Sab is on the right. This soup dances on the tongue with flavour from the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chillies that are in it.
Below this is Khao Soi, the famous Chiang Mai dish that is a must try if you’re in the Northern Thai region. The deep fried egg noodles on the top of the dish give it an added crunch to the meal – divine.
While Dave was busy with those dishes, I was frying up my pad thai. Because what’s a trip to Thailand without one of its best-known dishes being slurped into your mouth? Although A laughs and tells me it’s a tourist dish and no-one in Thailand actually eats it. While Aussies have Fosters, it seems the best known Thai export is the pad thai recipe.
Undeterred, I get on to making my curry. The ingredients look beautiful on the plate, the colours are stunning in their purples, greens and reds, and hinting at the flavour inside.
The chopping begins.
And this is followed by pounding. Dave does most of it because he has bigger biceps than I.
Our class prepares four different pastes – green, red, penang and massaman. The colours are so bright they look artificial. But I can promise all the ingredients in these pastes are completely natural.
I’ve chosen penang curry and I add coconut milk, chicken, chillies and kaffir lime leaves to the paste to get the delicious end dish.
And alas, the story is drawing to a close. But before I slip in to the depths of a food coma, I polish off the meal with mango and sticky rice. Flowers gathered from the garden earlier have been boiled to create a natural food dye to the dish, giving a blue hue. As I shovel in my last mouthful, I can feel my eyelids droop.
What you need to know
Cost: 1200 baht (about US$35) which is great value considering you get six dishes for this price!
How to get there: Asia Scenic will pick you up from your accommodation. If you want to go to their class in town, the address is 31 Rachadumneon Soi 5, Chiang Mai, 50200.
When to go: There are classes most days, just contact the school and pre-book a time.
Thank you to Asia Scenic for hosting us. However, this story is our own.