As you can probably tell by now, I try to take a cooking class in each country I go to. So far I’ve taken classes in Bali, Laos, and Thailand. When I found out Beyond Unique Escapes did a half day course and taught 2 of the three famous dishes here for only $24, I signed up! I looked on Trip Advisor, and there were many companies that came up, but this one was in the top ten, the right dishes and at the right price! I signed up online, and a tuk-tuk came and picked me up at my hotel the morning of and dropped me off after at no additional charge.
They offer two classes, one in the morning and one in the evening, or you can combine the two and make a full day out of it. After the tuk-tuk had picked me up, he took me to the office to pay (they take your card online but don’t charge it) then we went off about a 15-minute drive from the center of town to a small village where the cooking venue is out in the rural part of town. It was nice to show up and have our guide walk us through the village and meet a family to interact with them and see how they live and cook. As a token of gratitude, we (the school) offered the man of the house 2Kg of rice. I thought that was a small amount to give while allowing strangers into your home, but the school visits them almost every day, so I guess the rice will never be wasted while also being plentiful. The villagers were happy to see us and smiling and willing to answer any questions and take pictures. There was a girl in the kitchen peeling garlic and a cute little girl playing outside.
After our tour of the village, we went back to the cooking school where we each had our own station to make three dishes: Fish Amok, Green Mango Salad with Chicken, and Sticky Rice Balls. With only a class of 9 (they take up to 10) it was very intimate and fun!
We first learned the Fish Amok and chopped all the ingredients ourselves and made the dish up until the last piece where you add a raw egg in at the end; they did that for us. There were no recipes given out, but I took good notes so I can replicate the dishes later. This was my favorite dish!
Although I came to learn the Fish Amok, it was great to find out how to make the Green Mango Salad too! All over Southeast Asia you’ll find Papaya and Mango Salads that are to die for! This salad didn’t disappoint, and now that I know the techniques and what’s in the dressing I can change it up to make it spicier, sweeter, or sourer.
The last dish we learned was a sticky rice ball dessert. None of us had high hopes for it as all it consisted of was the dough which was glutinous rice flour and water, then the filling was a chunk of palm sugar. I thought maybe the palm sugar would be enough to bring the flavor out, but it was just a hint of sugar in the ball. Basically, you roll a small piece of dough in the palm of your hand then make a little divot in it and add the piece of sugar then pull up the dough around it and form back into a ball. Then you boil them and drop into the cold water to stop the cooking and eat cold. I wanted the sugar to be more prominent, but all I tasted was bland rice flour with a hint of sugar. I think if you made the balls thinner/smaller and added more sugar or even coated the outside of the ball with toasted coconut or sugar they’d taste better. I’ll have to experiment with it.
I really enjoyed this class, the only other dish I wish I could have learned how to make was Lok Lak, it’s a beef dish marinated in a pepper sauce and served with a fried egg and rice. So good I had it three times while I was there!