I love to do a cooking class if I can during a trip to a new region, and it turns out that cooking classes are quite a thing in Chiang Mai! This was great in some ways, but made making a selection quite daunting. Thankfully, I found this blog post on What Kate and Kris Did, which had done all of the work for me! Mark and I definitely wanted to do an afternoon class rather than a full day, but one that included a market trip and to have options of what we could cook rather than a set menu for the class. We ended up booking with Galangal Cooking Studio.
Booking was super easy the day before via their online form, followed by an email confirming our place. We were quite relieved as we actually tried another place first who were fully booked and we thought we had left it too late to go anywhere good.
The school organised a red bus taxi to pick us up from our hotel and after picking up a few other class attendees took us to our cooking destination. We were given a list of dishes and could each choose a dish from a few categories: stir fry, soup, curry, and appetiser. We strategised and came up with a plan to make sure we made different dishes to cover a wider range of options, essentially making 2 of each category between us.
Once we had made our choices, it was out into the red buses again to visit the produce market nearby. Our instructor showed us around and talked us through the essential ingredients in Thai cuisine. We had a bit of time to look around and buy anything we might want, while our instructor quickly picked up a few bits and bobs for the lesson. The selection of fresh ingredients was amazing, with all the exotic vegetables and herbs that are tricky to find back at home.
Soon it was time to get cooking. We each had our individual bench space and cooking station to prepare our dishes, and the instructions were clear and simple to follow. With a bit of guidance, tasting and adjusting we were on our way!
First up were the quick stir fries. We felt that pad thai was a must, and chose our second dish of chicken and cashew nuts based on a whim really. Fresh ingredients specific to each dish were laid out on a little tray, and then we added chilli and garlic depending on our own palates. We were taken through how to make and adjust the seasoning for each of our dishes, before doing the final cooking in the wok. The pad thai was absolutely delicious with the peanut and tamarind flavours really prominent. The chicken and cashew nut stir fry was yummy as well, although not quite as much of a stand-out.
Next up were the soups, and we opted for the well-known Tom Yum with prawns, and a seafood and coconut milk soup for our second choice. Both were comforting and delicious, and I think we agreed that we preferred the soups with coconut milk. Tom Yum can be made with or without, so it was interesting to learn how you could make the different versions.
For our appetisers we chose the light, fresh papaya salad, and the lab salad. The simplicity of the process and the amount of flavour produced in each dish throughout the class kept on surprising me I have to say!
The next job was to make the red, green and mussaman curry pasted from scratch. Often we can find curry pastes in jars or packets in supermarkets, but making it from scratch was really insightful and packed way more freshness and flavour than a store-bought paste. Our instructor talked us through the ingredients and processes in each before we took it in turns to pound the pastes to the right consistency.
For our curries, Mark and I both happened to choose options that used the red curry paste. Mark cooked a panang curry, one of our favourites to eat back home, and I cooked khao soi, a local Chiang Mai curry noodle dish. Both came out really well, with the khao soi edging in front for me particularly as it was a new discovery for us in Chiang Mai.
We finished eating our final dishes and were absolutely stuffed! We had such a fantastic time, the staff were amazing and so friendly. At the end it felt like having dinner with mates! I can definitely recommend Galangal Cooking Studio for the ease, friendliness and the general experience.