I never knew I am quite an accomplished amateur cook until I was taught how to whip up a delicious meal of Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong. It was one of the best meal I've ever had in Thailand, maybe because of the extra ingredients it came with; freshly picked herbs cooked with lots of patience, love and guidance from my chef in her lovely countryside home.
My experience started with a pick up from my hotel to the local wet market, where I was brought to buy the ingredients for the meal I'll be cooking later. Some of the ingredients are only commonly available in Thailand and it was a nice experience getting to see and smell them in their original form rather than the cooked version I usually see in my meals. Hahaha!
As my chef coach and I went around the market, we were greeted by the stallholders warmly. The market is opened from morning all the way till the late afternoon, which is really nice as most wet markets I've been to are only opened in the morning. I like being able to take my time to shop for the freshest ingredients. As the saying goes, in life and with food, the best things can't be rushed :)
Usually the coach will buy ingredients for 4 dishes (3 main course and 1 dessert), but as I was on my own, I told my coach we will cook just 2 dishes because I have to finish all the dishes that I choose to cook and my stomach can't handle that much food alone.
After we have completed our shopping, I was brought to my coach's home in the countryside. Her home is doubled up as her cooking school and I love the rustic vibe it exudes. I was exploring her property as she went in to prepare the ingredients we just bought. The sound of the birds happily chirping away and the lush greenery surrounded me completely and made me so excited to get going!
I was surprised by how huge her property is. Her school is able to house up to a maximum of 50 students, which is very impressive. As she was preparing the ingredients, I asked her about her inspiration behind the school, and she shared that it stemmed from her passion of cooking and love for Thai cuisine and she wants to spread her love for the cuisine to others.
I was given a cute chef hat and an apron before we start the session proper. The coach taught me that in Thai cuisine, how you process the fresh ingredients is very important as it will bring out the flavours in the dish. We went through the different ingredients needed for each dish and after putting them aside, it's time to get the wok heated up!
Step by step, my coach guide me which ingredients goes into the wok first as I precariously place them in the wok to avoid getting splashed by oil (hey, I am an amateur after all). As I watch my dish starting to look like an actual Pad Thai, I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and achievement and my stomach actually started growling! Or maybe it's because I've skipped breakfast that morning in anticipation of the feast awaiting me. Hee!
After I'm done with my Pad Thai, I moved on to the second dish which is the Tom Yam Goong. For this dish, one wrong ingredient used can change the entire taste of the soup. Unfortunately, most of the herbs used for the soup can only be widely found in Thailand, but not where I came from, Singapore :(
After I finished cooking both dish, it's time to tuck in! Boy oh boy... I'm impressed with myself for being able to whip up a decent Thai meal which tasted so good! It's my first attempt at it too!
To top off my already great cooking experience, I was given a cookbook by the coach with all her recipes of Thai cuisine, yippee!
This was a really memorable experience for me because everything was so authentic and rustic. In other words, simply perfect.