Admittedly, I cannot cook to save my life. My omelettes are disastrous, I burn most things and unless it comes from a frozen packet, I just can’t do it..
But although I can’t make the food, I definitely can appreciate it and the food I’ve had through my trip so far has been unbelievable! We’ve been spoiled for choice with fresh fruit platters, stir fries, curries, noodles, rice dishes, Thai deserts.. (and the odd pack of Oreos..)
Cooking classes in Thailand seem to be super popular, and we decided to book a half day class at Siam Rice for 700 baht, which included transport – this was 12.30-3.30 and involved cooking four dishes and being able to eat or take home whatever you’d like. The half day class was perfect for us – I don’t know how anyone would be able to have room to cook & eat 7 courses in the full day class!
From the menu, we chose to cook our own stir fry, noodle dish and curry and curry paste, so I went for: Chicken Cashew Nut, Fried Fat Noodles & a Chicken Massaman Curry, whilst Sham chose the Phanaeng Curry.
Our teacher, Eve, was an absolute angel and managed to guide my useless self into cooking three of the nicest meals I’ve had in Thailand (even if I do say so myself..) But no, I highly doubt I would ever be able to recreate it ever again!
Thai food involves a lot of spice – mildly spicy in Thailand equates to extremely spicy in the UK – herbs are very popular also, as well as sugar, pineapple, bean sprout and of course, chili peppers! If you prefer your food mild, ask for 1 or 2 chilis or even 1/2 a chili if you really struggle with spice. The food in Thailand though is absolutely incredible, and one of the best things about the country. Equivalents, like Thai food in the UK, just doesn’t compare – you need to try the real deal!
Vietnamese food was equally fantastic, and having never really eaten it before, I was seriously impressed. The dishes are concocted around similar ingredients – rice, meats, noodles, with Thai food tending to be spicier and Vietnamese cuisine having a greater emphasis on soup and soup-style dishes, such as its famous Phở.
To compare, in my personal opinion, Thai spring rolls are more delicious – crunchy, fried and filled with shredded veg + glass noodles, whilst Vietnamese spring rolls are wrapped in transparent rice papers, with a texture similar to noodles, and filled mostly with seafood, like prawns. However, Vietnamese Curry was the best I have ever had – creamier in consistency and full of vegetables.
I have been lucky to taste so much gorgeous food so far, and am still very excited for city-dining in Singapore, noodles and satays in Bali and of course a barbie on the beach in Oz. But if you’re coming to Vietnam or Thailand, mine and Sham’s recommendations to try are:
- Khao Soi – Northern Thailand – fried noodle curry with chicken
- Egg Coffee and Vietnamese traditional Iced Coffee – coffee prepared with egg yolk, sugar + condensed milk, whilst the iced coffee is extremely strong
- Prawn/pork Phở – soup like dish with noodles and meat
- Banana fritters with ice cream – essentially deep fried bananas
- Phanaeng Curry – type of red curry based around peanuts
- Bánh Mì – Vietnamese bread filled with salad and meat
- Chicken Pad Thai – everyone’s favourite!
- Tom Kha Kai – a chicken and coconut curry/soup-like dish
And for the days where you may fancy something slightly different, inexpensive, but still very delicious, you have to try – the 7/11 toastie.
7/11s are found all over Thailand and are quite the novelty for British backpackers. 50p for a warm ham & cheese piece of deliciousness. Divine!
After spending the afternoon at our cooking class, we then headed out to the night market that evening to catch the Chiang Mai Cabaret Show – and watch the gorgeous Thai LadyBoys in action and it was absolutely fabulous, with every classic in there – Steps, Rihanna, and Whitney Houston!
And as the days went on, I fell more and more in love with Chiang Mai. Out of every city we’ve backpacked through, I think Chiang Mai may take the cake as my absolute favourite & I am now seriously considering returning in April to celebrate the Songkran Festival & Thai New Year!