Thailand, Travel
Comments 27

Thailand: Farm to Fork (via a Cooking Class) on the Outskirts of Bangkok

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Chung, who met us at the farm to harvest our ingredients for our cooking class

On our first morning in Bangkok we hopped on a bus and drove to the outskirts of Bangkok. It didn’t take long, maybe 45 minutes, before we arrived at a farm that grows herbs, fruit and some vegetables. We were to collect some ingredients that we would be using in our Thai cooking class not long after.

Everything grew on extended narrow beds, lined with little irrigation canals. The heat was scorching. 40 degrees centigrade plus and as we all know, the melting temperature of an Irish person is 14 deg C. I persevered with my fan, driving some air towards my face and soaking up all of the smells, tastes and colours.

Watering the crops with a little boat

Watering the crops with a little boat

It is very hot and the crops are watered using a hose deployed from a little boat which was a joy to see. I grew up in a farming area in Ireland and watering the crops was not something our local farmers had to worry about, at any time of year.

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Harvesting lemongrass

We tried lots as we went, first some papaya, which was as fresh, rich and unctuous as you would expect. Then some lemongrass which grows in tufts, like spiked fragrant doll hair. The part we use is at the bottom, but the grass itself is beautifully aromatic too. Some okra was cut and I was offered some raw, I couldn’t believe how good it was. Also a green crumpled pod that is called pea here, but is unlike and pea I have ever known.

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Chung, he rarely stopped smiling

Banana trees

Banana trees

Once the herbs were gathered we hopped on a boat to head to the cooking school. The cooking school is open air with a thatched roof to protect from the intense sun, on the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. To one side is the canal and the other a farm, it is a beautiful setting. The market itself is only open at weekends, but still boats chug along occasionally mostly selling food. The postman passed in his boat at one point.

Khlong Lat Mayom - a floating market at weekend and a cooking school, three times a month

Khlong Lat Mayom – a floating market at weekend and a cooking school, three times a month

The cooking school is divided into three cooking stations, and a different cook teaches one of three dishes. We started with a green seafood curry. Siri taught us, a cook for 30 years, this was his personal green curry recipe. In the UK people mistakenly think that green curry is mild but in Thailand it is served hot. We had medium heat, which for us is pretty firey and perfect for my palate.

Siri, who cooked green curry with us

Siri, who cooked green curry with us

Ingredients for green curry

Ingredients for green curry

Finishing the green curry with fresh coconut cream (which we made in the class)

Finishing the green curry with fresh coconut cream (which we made in the class)

Once the green curry was made we progressed to the next station to make Tom Yum with prawns, taught by Pichit, Siri’s grandson. We made two versions, I was keen to try the milky one with an extra chilli kick too. The results were great and the recipe very accessible.

Tom Yum

Tom Yum

The last recipe was Bua Loy, bean sized sticky rice flour dumplings in coconut cream with taro, sweetcorn and other bits and bobs. I had already tried these and loved them. Nee makes and sells these at the floating market at weekends.

Bua Loy, before cooking

Bua Loy, before cooking

All that was left to do was eat, the food we made was served with rice and some other dishes including a cripsy crab omelette, rice, and some beans and sugar snaps served with prawns with a mild kick.

Crab Omelette

Crab Omelette

Prawns with beans

Prawns with beans

When we were finished we hopped back on our boat and headed back in to central Bangkok, stopping off at the Artist’s House on the way. I loved this experience and will work on some of the recipes soon, making them a bit more accessible to those living in the UK.

A canal scene from the journey back to Bangkok

A canal scene from the journey back to Bangkok

Canal side house in Bangkok

Canal side house in Bangkok

If you want to do this, and I recommend you do, you will need a guide / translator as the class is in Thai. I highly recommend Ann, who guided us through it and who could organise a whole day for you, as she did for us.

27 Comments

  1. Sarah Turrell says

    Wow Niamh, what a great trip and a great food experience. The food you cooked looks wonderful. Hot, hot, hot thai curry is one of my faves so if you’re ever able to post the recipes.

      • Sadly not – up to my eyes in deadlines this week and won’t be able to make it to Ballymaloe either. Will you be over later in the year?

  2. It’s 9 in the morning here, and I could definitely be up for that crab omelette right now! To be honest it all looks delicious.

    • Hey Kerstin! Thanks so much for that.

      Re: the dream, that sounds awesome. Now please tell me I was in NYC living in a beautiful spacious apartment with a countryside bolthole? I would also imagine that I had figured out the secret to being a food writer and being healthy and slim :)

      … we can all dream! :)

      Hope you are well x

  3. What an amazing experience. You capture everything so well with your camera – I love that you give us people alongside the places you go. It makes it so much more real. Love it!

    • Thanks Louise. So lovely to read these. Places and food are nothing without people, I think. Lots more to come!

  4. Such beautiful descriptions of the farmland- sounds like an absolutely amazing experience – though I completely sympathise about the heat. I would have been a puddle on the floor.

    • Thanks Tori! I was and I really am appalling in intense heat. I can get very stressed. Always have a fan with me now :)

  5. Was wanting to read all your posts on Thailand. I’m loving reading your posts – detailed and vivid. Both in your style of writing and photographs. I’d love to link up the posts… so please keep me in the loop. It was indeed a pleasure meeting you Niamh and I hope you managed fine in the last phase of the trip!

    • Hello! Lovely to meet you too and thank you for the kind words :) I will be writing several more posts and will tweet each one. Still in Bangkok and enjoying it. Hope you are enjoying home :)

      • Enjoying home but feeling disoriented still. Wow! You are still in Bangkok… you can never have enough I think:)

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  9. If I ever go to Thailand I am totally going to do this same cooking class you’ve done – it sounds so good! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Pingback: Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung (a vibrant and delicious Thai soup) |

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