Organic-Cooking-School---Featured

 

I’m back. It’s been a couple months since I returned and I’m finally starting to catch up on the 130 GB of photos and videos that I took on my recent backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. Stay tuned for more. I should be putting out a new post every week or two maximum!

Original Date: February 07, 2015

Food: one of the MAIN reasons I travel. Wherever I end up going, I just HAVE to try everything in sight (especially when it’s this cheap). More importantly though, I want to learn to cook something authentic from the places I’ve been to and add it to my repertoire. This was no different when I found myself in Chiang Mai, a much more laid back city (compared to Bangkok) located in northern Thailand–and it was only a $50 CAD & 1.5 hour flight. Not bad.

While considering the many different schools there, I decided to go with the Chiang Mai Organic Thai Farm Cooking School since I wanted an experience as authentic as possible.

Up At 7:00 Am For A Tour Of the Local Markets

Never was a morning person but some things just make it worth it. The day started off being picked up by an air conditioned van that took myself and a group of others to the market where locals come to get the freshest ingredients in the city.

Chiang Mai Local Market
Chiang Mai Local Market Raw Meat
Chiang Mai Market - Rice and Grains

Chiang Mai Market - Curry

Our guide showed us some pre-made curry paste but we were going to create that ourselves so there was no need to buy it here. If I were to move to Chiang Mai though, this place would be my go-to for anything I wanted.

On to the Organic Farm

We were greeted to a large wooden table with a stone mortar and pestle, a wooden cutting board and a large knife; the tools of the Thai trade.

Chiang Mai Cooking Table Chiang Mai Mortar and Pestle

Immediately upon arrival, our guide took us for a tour around the farm. Everything here is organically grown, no pesticides or anything. I realized that I’m so used to buying food from the grocery store back in Canada that I didn’t really have an appreciation for where it all came from.Chiang Mai Organic Farm Chiang Mai Organic MintConveniently, our ingredients were already picked by the staff there and they had them waiting for us by the time we got back to the table, so we got to work.
Chiang Mai Organic Green Curry

Prior to coming today, we were given the options of what we were going to be making. I chose the following:

1. Green Curry

The Green Curry Paste recipe goes like this:

  • 2-3 Green long child peppers
  • 2 bird eye’s child peppers
  • 1 tbsp chopped challots
  • 1 tsp chopped galangal
  • 1/2 tsp chopped kaffir lime rind 
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp chopped finger roots (or “Thai Ginseng”)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp roasted coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or 1/2 tsp salt if you want to keep the paste longer)
Other Ingredients
  • 1 cup sliced eggplant (or other vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, potato or pumpkin)
  • 1/4 cup small bitter eggplant (not necessary)
  • 70 grams sliced chicken (can be replaced by beef, pork or tofu)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 leaves of sweet basil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 red chile pepper (for garnish)

So basically you dice them…

Chiang Mai Organic Curry

Grind them …
Chiang Mai Organic Curry

….and voila! Green Curry paste.

Chiang Mai Organic Curry

To make the green curry:

  • Pour 5tbsp coconut milk into a saucepan
  • Add 1tbsp oil
  • Add curry paste and turn on to medium heat.
  • Story & fry until fragrant
  • Add chicken & Egg plant. Add the rest of the coconut milk & water. Turn the heat up.
  • Add sugar, fish sauce & salt. Stir a little.
  • When everything is done, add sweet basil and kaffir lime leaves. Season to taste. Put sliced red fresh child pepper on top as a garnish.
Chiang Mai Green Curry

The taste should be a bit salty, creamy and spicy

2. Tom Yum Soup

If you haven’t had Tom Yum soup before, it’s kind of sour and spicy (but not in the way that I like Hakka Hot & Sour Soup). I definitely didn’t like it the first time I had it in Bangkok but after trying this recipe it was definitely a lot better.

The Recipe:

  • 1-5 crushed bird eye’s chilli peppr
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushroom (slice into 1 inch long pieces)
  • 1/4 cup sliced galangal
  • 1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp tamarind chilli paste
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 5 shrimps (or chicken, fish, etc)
  • 1 tbsp chopped spring onion
  • 1 stem of coriander
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 leaves of Thai Parsley
  • 2 chopped shallops
  • Chiang Mai Tom Yom SoupStart by making the broth by putting water in a saucepan and adding lemongrass, galangal, shallots, tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • Heat until boiling. Add tamarind chili paste and bird eye’s chilli peppers.
  • Flavour with fish sauce, salt and sugar
  • Add shrimps. Stir thoroughly & add spring onion, Thai Parsley, coriander & kaffir lime leaves
  • Finally, add lime juice. If not spicy enough, add more child peppers

Chiang Mai Tom Yom Soup

DSC_2851-Edit

3. Chicken Cashew Stiry Fry

My third favourite dish that I made this day (#1 Mango Sticky Rice, #2 Chicken Pad Thai). I gotta say, being outside in the heat, with some shade and the breeze running through the place made for a calming yet excitable experience.

Chiang Mai Organic Kitchen

To make this recipe:

  • 80 g sliced chicken
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 dried chili peppers, cut 1 inch long, without seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped spring onions
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
    Chiang Mai Chicken Cashew

Preparation

 

  • Heat oil in a wok. Fry chicken, onion & garlic with a pinch of salt until golden brown
  • Add carrots, mushrooms, chilli peppers & water
  • Season with oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar
  • Stir fry again until vegetables are cooked
  • When done, turn off the heat and add cashew nuts and spring onions. Serve with rice.
    Chiang Mai Chicken Cashew

I Served it with some rice and the green curry that I made earlier. It tastes as good as it looks. Chicken Cashew & Green Curry4. Pad Thai

Let’s be honest this is really what I came for. My mouth had been watering since the flight over. It’s surprisingly easy to make, just requires a lot of ingredients.

The Recipe:

  • 80 grams rice noodles (soak 30 minutes in water or until soft)
  • 1/3 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/3 cup tofu (or chicken, pork, etc)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste OR 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar (I much prefer the tamarind paste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives (or spring onion)
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 chopped shallots

Chiang Mai Pad Thai

Separation:

  • Put water in a bowl. Add tamarind paste, palm sugar, fish sauce, molasses and chill powder. Mix together well and set aside.
  • Heat up oil in a wok on low. Add chicken, shallots & a pinch of salt. Fry until crunchy.
  • Move to one side of the wok. Scramble egg and mix together with already fried chicken.
  • Move this mixture to the side.
  • Add noodles and seasoning sauce that was set aside. Stir fry until noodles are soft.
  • Add bean sprouts, grated carrots & chives
  • Mix everything in the wok together
  • Serve with crushed peanuts on top and a slice of lemon or lime.Chiang Mai Pad Thai Chiang Mai Pad Thai Chiang Mai Cooking Class Chiang Mai Cooking Class

 

5. Mango Sticky Rice

The. Greatest. Dessert. Ever.

Okay, maybe 2nd to Tiramisu, but I foam at the mouth when considering the combination of coconut and mango in anything.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of steamed sticky rice
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 ripe mango (peel, remove the seed and slice into pieces)
  • 1-2 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar (I prefer palm)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp of roasted mung beans
  •  1 pandan leaf – chopped 1 inch long

Chiang Mai Pandan leafPreparation:

  • Put coconut milk and pandan leaf in a saucepan, heat until boiling. Turn the heat off.
  • Take pandan leaf out. Take 2tbsp of coconut milk out and set aside to use later
  • Put the rest of coconut milk in a bowl. Add palm sugar and salt. mix together well.
  • Add steamed sticky rice. Mix well.
  • Put on a plate. Sprinkle with mung bean and top with 2 tbsp of coconut milk. Serve with ripe mango.
    Coconut Palm Sugar Pandan Leaf Coconut Palm Sugar Pandan Leaf

The smell emanating from this pot will never escape my memory. We then poured this heavenly mixture onto some steamed rice, cut up some fresh mangos and made it look presentable.

Mango Sticky Rice

Takeaways From Eating Abroad

So I was very happy with the day, the food and the experience….until I returned back home to Canada. I was filled with excitement to share these new meals with my family and I had prepared it one night for them for dinner. I followed the recipes to a T, exactly how it was back in Chiang Mai…and yet somehow it tasted very different.

All I could figure out from this was that it has to be something with the produce. Don’t get me wrong, food in Toronto is of great quality but there’s got to be so many more preservatives and other additives in them that resulted in a big loss of flavour. The food in Chiang Mai was organic and the chicken was recently slaughtered. The food just had a noticeable amount of flavour missing.

 

This experience truly made me appreciate growing and eating organic food. The flavour just cannot be compared. Until I learn how to do that though, i’ll stick to the grocers. I’m not about to go pay $2.50 for an avocado at Whole Foods.