In terms of tastes and spices, Thai cuisine is one of the more distinct cuisines in Asia that I like. Thai dishes mostly consist of strong aromas, heavy spicing, and the the kind of bitter and hot flavors that can make you weep simultaneous tears of pain and pleasure. In Metro Manila, there’s a number of Thai restaurants but only a few really serve the next best thing to the authentic version. Thai at Silk, Silk Road, and Thai Bistro were some of the restaurants we tried before that deserved a huge thumbs up. Behind all these was “Chef in Stilettos” Cecille Chang who’s now busy imparting her passion, knowledge and skills for cooking Thai food through classes held at her condo unit in BGC. 8-10 students are ideal.
Chef in Stilettos shared her glowing techniques and secret recipes to make perennial favorites such as the Spring Rolls, Papaya Salad (Som Tam), Hot and Sour Prawn Soup (Tom Yum Kung), Green Curry with Chicken (Kaengkhiawwaan Kai), and Stir Fried Noodles in Thai Style (Pad Thai). Thai cooking classes are held usually in Chef Cecille’s condo unit in BGC, but this special class was set in a friend’s house.
Attending this Thai cooking class was a good chance for me to go to the other side of the fence. As a food blogger who always writes food and restaurant reviews, I thought it was a fun and unique experience to test and “critique” my own. 😛 So, how good or bad did it go?
Thai Cooking Class by Chef in Stilettos
Chef Cecille started with the introduction of the different vegetables and spices that are being used in cooking Thai food. She taught us the proper way of cutting veggies and had us write our names on mini chalkboards so we could clip them to our plates and bowls later. All ingredients were readily prepared and sectioned per dish. Recipes were provided in clearbooks for easy reference.
Chef Cecille first demonstrated how to cook the dishes per recipe and let us taste before we proceed with our turn. Students cooked by twos with the chef guiding on the side, so beginners like me could stay worry-free. 🙂
5 Thai Dishes We Cooked
1. Spring Rolls
As a crowd-pleasing appetizer, fried spring rolls were made up of pork, shrimp, mushrooms, rice vermicelli, and a jumble of crunchy raw vegetables. The noodles had to be dry before the cooked ingredients could be rolled into the rice paper. The guiding principle in rolling is to put less filling so it will be easier to fold and seal the rolls. For the sauce, the classic sweet, sour and savory number from sugar, water, fish sauce and lime juice fits the bill perfectly.
2. Papaya Salad (Som Tam)
Som Tam consisted of shredded green papaya that we pounded with a mortar and pestle to release its tart, bracing juice. It was seasoned with lime, tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar, and chili heat which resulted to sweet, spicy, salty, and sour flavors. Green papaya (picked unripe) almost had a neutral cucumber-like flavor, unlike the orange-colored papaya with black seeds. Among all the dishes in the classes, I thought this one was the easiest to prepare because it didn’t involve cooking. We just pounded the papaya and mixed in the rest of the ingredients.
3. Hot and Sour Prawn Soup (Tom Yum Kung)
A bowl of Tom Yum is hearty enough to be served as a stand-alone soup course or, as the Thais do it, a main course eaten with rice. This is a reliable comfort food with a clean and zingy flavor. Mussels can be used as a substitute for prawns which won’t give a significant absence of seafood taste. Providing the most savory notes here has to be the tom yum paste, which now can be bought in some supermarkets in Manila (if you don’t want to create from scratch). With chicken stock and prawn stock, coconut cream, mushrooms, fresh kaffir leaves, lemongrass, galangal, lime juice, plus a handful of chilies stocked in the fridge, a tasty dinner is just a chicken breast and a few herbs away.
4. Green Curry with Chicken (Kaengkhiawwaan Kai)
Curry has many different versions, but the green curry with chicken of Thailand just might be the upgrade you’re looking for. It starts with the blend of coconut milk and coconut cream as base, green curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil leaves, and then layered with aromatic spices and chilies. I just followed as instructed and couldn’t believe that with just a few minutes of cooking, the chicken breast became tender and delicious. The green curry turned out as a super satisfying dish! 🙂 More chili can be added to heighten up the spiciness level.
5. Stir Fried Noodles in Thai Style (Pad Thai)
Everyone was waiting for Pad Thai! 🙂 Why not? It was fun and intriguing to learn how to make what’s known as the global ambassador for the glories of Thai food. These simple stir-fried rice noodles are almost certainly one of the best-known examples of Thai cuisine throughout the world. We cooked the Pad Thai tossing tofu, prawns, shallows, chopped pork tenderloin, dried shrimps, and chewy flat rice noodles in a few minutes then adding the sauce which delivered a powerful umami punch.
The prep list looked intimidating with a long list of ingredients, but we were rewarded with an awesomely flavorful, authentic version of this famous Thai noodle dish. With so many ingredients, laying them all out within quick reach in the order they will be used will make the process easier. Fried sunny side up and ground roasted peanuts further added a good contrast to the textures present.
“Chef in Stilettos” Cecille Chang is a funky and kikay chef who’s easy to work around with. She’s a great instructor and also someone who carries good conversations like a friend. She has completed a 12-month intensive culinary training all over Thailand, including special sessions with the royal family’s private chef, and has numerous other accomplishments under her belt when it comes to Asian cuisine.
This Thai Cooking Class certainly brought happiness because for the first time in forever, we felt extremely proud and very satisfied with our own cooking. 🙂 Rate is PhP 2,500 per session per student. Call +63956 3789129 to register or visit Thai Cooking Class Facebook page to know more.