Chiang Mai Chow Down
· by wendy · thailand
We’re not ashamed to admit that one of the big draws of coming to Thailand was for the food. We had heard it was spicy and delicious. Delicious it is, but spicy…not so much. Sometime during the first week, after being served one non-spicy meal after another, we learned that restaurant owners don’t serve us the spicy version because people that look like us can’t take it. Luckily, we learned how to tell them that we wanted it Thai style or “ped ped” (spicy). Still, the food was just slightly spicy. Maybe they were still holding back on us. Dusty wants his face to explode from the heat!
We thought maybe cooking school would be the answer, so, we found Sammy’s Organic Farm through friends of friends on Facebook. You won’t find it on TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet, which we though might be a bad thing, but later learned that Sammy doesn’t want to be on those sites. “Too much! My sister has restaurant on Lonely Planet and she never stop working!” I liked his attitude.
Class began early in the morning with pick up from our hotel, a swing by the market and then on to his farm. He began by teaching us about the ingredients that we were going to be using, what they might be called at home or good substitutes if we couldn’t find them. He’d pull things from one bush or another and we sampled them all. He taught us about the spicy chilis, too. “Only one or two, maybe. If want more spicy, then more. If too many, then die! Ehhhh!” Making a choking face. :) He also taught us that if we want it more spicy we say “ped ped ped ped ped….”. The more you say it, the hotter it gets I guess. We’ve only been saying it two times, unfortunately.
In the morning session, we each made 3 dishes. Between Sarah, Dusty, Oksana and I (Arlo was our paparazzi) we made Yellow Curry with Chicken, Tom Yum Soup, Phad Thai, Green Curry with Chicken, Thai Vegetable Hot Soup, Stir Fried Minced Chicken with Holy Basil and Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup.
Our favorite was the Yellow Curry, with Coconut Milk Soup in a close second. Here’s the winning recipe:
Yellow Curry Paste (Nam Prik Gaeng Kari)
Put all of the seeds in a mortar and grind with a pestle into powder. Add the rest of the ingredients except shrimp paste and yellow curry powder. Pound until all ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Add shrimp paste and yellow curry paste then pound until it becomes a fine paste. Put the paste in a jar and chill until needed. Keep chilled for up to one month.
Yellow Curry with Chicken
Put yellow curry paste into boiling coconut cream and stir fry to release strong aroma. Add sliced chicken breast. Pour in coconut milk when the chicken is just cooked. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and onion. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender. Season with fish sauce and palm sugar. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add spring onion and remove from heat. Serve hot with steamed rice.
When you make the curry paste from scratch, it’s a lot of work. Lots of pounding and grinding, but at least you know what’s in it. I saw at the market where people had large bowls full of different curry pastes for sale. I can see why people would buy it that way, after the work we put into ours. But, I like being able to control the flavors. Dusty put 8 chilis into his green curry paste, which made Sammy’s eyes grow big. Even later he threw in 2 more for good measure while it was cooking. The verdict = still not spicy enough. :(
After we finished cooking our three meals, we ate them, sampled others’ dishes and then had break time. Sammy has hammock’s set up by a small pond where we laid around for awhile. Eventually, each one of us passed out from eating so much.
Round two was preparing an appetizer and a dessert. Between the four of us we chose Deep Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls and Chicken in Pandanus Leaves for appetizer and Pumpkin Custard and Banana in Coconut Milk for dessert. I loved the Pumpkin Custard. So, here it is:
Pumpkin Custard (Sung Khaya Fak Thong)
1/4 cup pumpkin, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup palm sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
1/4 tsp salt
Beat eggs and palm sugar until it becomes creamy. Add coconut cream, corn flour and salt. Mix together well. Divide the mixture into 3 cups and put sliced pumpkin on top. Steam over high heat for 20 minutes.
Sammy’s wife told us that other ingredients can be substituted for the pumpkin such as almonds. Also, a good idea is to purchase a small pumpkin, scrape the seeds and some pumpkin out of it for the coconut mixture. Then, add the mixture back to the pumpkin and bake in the oven instead of steaming.
Really, all of the recipes were pretty dang delicious. I’d eat anyone of them at this very instant. Only small problem is that Dusty never got his face blown off by spiciness. It’s his own fault, I suppose, for not throwing 20 chilis in the pot. Perhaps we’ll have to try India!
Sammy’s Organic Cooking
Full day course 900 BAHT or about $29 USD
Pick from hotel 8:30 – 9:00 AM
Return to Chiang Mai 5:00 PM
Wendy’s Review: OMG SO
Dusty’s Review: Delicious! (rubs belly)
Sarah’s Review: Charming, delightful, and mouth wateringly good!
Oksana’s Review: Fresh coconut milk is the key, duh!