As I mentioned yesterday, the only activity that we booked before we left for our honeymoon was a cooking class with Helping Hands Cooking School. My grandma read about it in The Australian the month before and it sounded fantastic. The price was right too. It was just $75AU for the two of us and that included the food at the end.
It was a little bit of a trek out to where we met our group but two sky trains later and we were there and then whisked off in an air-conditioned van to start our market tour. A little warning, some of the photos are a little bit disturbing. They might be more disturbing for me cause I can see the rest of the market beyond the photo. The market was not really a tourist place. It was very authentic.
The first thing we saw when we walked in was crates of chickens and ducks. It made me a bit sad and re-enforced my pledge to never buy cage eggs. I have convinced myself that these hens were roaming free living a wonderful life and had just been put in the cages at the start of the market day.
Next up were bags of live toads. These made me squeamish just looking at them let alone when they moved. A few stalls later they were selling them skinned. I did take a photo but thought better of sharing it. It’s pretty gory. Must not judge just because I don’t like eating toads though.
Oh no the slimy things haven’t finished yet. The eels were slithering around in big tubs and crawling all over each other. They gave me the heeby jeebies. The biggest fright I got was when a cat-fish in a trough like this jumped from one trough to the next as I walked past.
Yes that is a fried cockroach. There were also all manner of grubs and other insects to select from.
The little things at the back are tiny eggplant. They were about the size of half of my thumb.
Bananas aren’t anything interesting but I just loved this lady. She looks so happy!
These photos you have to look at really fast from top to bottom She is making pastry that is used for spring rolls. The blob in her right hand is a blob of dough that she slaps onto the hot plate and scrapes up with the other hand. It was amazing to watch and she made about 1 every 2 seconds. I could have watched her for hours.
The aroma from this chili paste was amazing. I wish you could get this sort of thing at home. I bet it packed quite a punch.
This was the other thing I could do with at home – freshly-chopped garlic and chili. It would save me from a lot of burnt hands and eyes if I could buy freshly-chopped chili.
Our guide bought a sample of fried bugs for us all to try. Of the five of us in the class Thomas was the only one game enough to try them. He said the slug wasn’t too bad but the cockroach was a bit rough to eat.
Then it was back to school to learn from Poo. The cooking school is set up near Poo’s house in a slum area. Poo uses the profits to help the community hence the name. She has assisted lots of locals to start up their own little food stalls and taught them how to cook food that appeals to us Westerners.
The first thing we made was Tom Yum Gai – a traditional Thai soup. It was so easy to make, took about 10 minutes from start to finish and it was very tasty.
The little bits you see floating on top are from the special secret chili sauce. We made this soup using water as the base. I think using a stock would have perfected it.
Next up was the larb which is a type of Thai salad made using mince and ground rice.
I never realised you could make the ground rice yourself. All you need is a bit of very finely chopped lemongrass, garlic and rice. You roast it up in a dry frying pan and then grind it up using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Poo told us that you have to leave it for one month before you can use it but we used it straight away and it was perfect.
We used duck mince for the larb but it’s often made with chicken or pork. I personally think it’s a bit too much of the one thing to have a big meal of it but as a little dish it was delicious.
The last thing we made was whipped up so quickly I didn’t even have time to take photos. It was just chicken, pepper, garlic and a bit of sauce. It sounds so simple but it was really tasty. A bit of rice and a few veges would have perfected it.
Poo and her assistant made our dessert for us. I wish I had her mango-cutting skills.
This was my first ever sticky rice experience and although yes it was seriously sweet I loved it. I actually got a little bit addicted to mangoes for the rest of the trip after eating this. There’s a recipe for sticky rice in her cookbook so I will have to make it some time soon. I think I’ll wait for mango season so I can make it just like this one.
We both really enjoyed the cooking class and are (ok I am) looking forward to whipping up some of the dishes from Poo’s cookbook very soon.
If you’re in Bangkok and want to take one of Poo’s classes visit the Helping Hands website. They cook different dishes each day of the week so you can pick you favourites.
ps. yes I do have other singlets I just seem to end up in this one quite often when I travel.
So what about you? What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen at a market?