Thai cuisine has always been one of my favourites since I spent two consecutive summers in Charm Beach, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, many moons ago.
The smells, colours, fresh ingredients, herbs and spices all singing on a plate. I remember daily specials of fish cooked with sweet basil and chilli. Don’t ask me what fish, though – it just depended on the haul the fishermen brought back on their boats that day. Or the little pancake lady in the market, serving up banana pancakes with sugar and spice. And not forgetting the best soup noodles ever at Bangkok train station for a couple of Thai baht (about 50p).
The joy of Thai food is in the clean and fresh ingredients and the honesty and the love put into its preparation.
It’s because of my love for Thai food that I have been known to pay the occasional visit to Chaophraya. OK then, I go so often we are on first name terms. So when I was invited to try their Thai cooking school, I couldn’t have been more excited! I’m not the best cook in the world – well quite poor actually – so it was a chance to finally learn some of these favourite recipes for myself.
On arrival we were welcomed by business manager Deepak Yadav and a very refreshing and fruity Thai cocktail with lemongrass and coconut. Once the preliminary introductions were over, we were treated to a couple of their classic appetisers, presumably just in case our own efforts were a disaster. Vegetable spring rolls were good but not one I would generally order, and tasty chicken satay, juicy and plump, served with homemade peanut sauce.
We headed upstairs to our lesson and this is where the fun really started! After donning aprons and silly tall hats (food hygiene!), chef North demonstrated how to cook the perfect chicken pad thai.
One thing that tickled our sense of humour was the secret ingredient- pickled turnip. Well who would have thought? We all got to sample his effort which was, as expected, delicious. Then it was over to us. We had our own little food station with all the ingredients and equipment we would need. It was surprising how competitive we all got. Chef North and Deepak tasted all our creations on completion and needless to say, I didn’t win the taste off!
We headed back downstairs to enjoy the fruits of our labour along with some of the real deal courtesy of their fine chefs in the kitchen! Thai green curry was a no brainer, always good. But their lamb massaman curry was outstanding – packed with stocky flavours and full of depth for a Thai dish. I haven’t tried one before but will definitely order it again next time I go. I know they are launching a new menu next month, but luckily it’s one of the dishes that will be staying put due to customer demand.
Anyway, what a brilliant evening and something I would really recommend if you havn’t tried a cooking class before. You could also give it a try at the upcoming Foodies Festival in Tatton Park where Chaophraya will be popping up with demos, classes and good food throughout the weekend. Tickets can be purchased from the Foodies Festival website.
Here’s hoping the weather holds out!
Khop Khun Kha!
19 Chapel Walks, Manchester M2 1HN