Learning to Cook Thai Vegan Food in Luxury
If you’ve been following our Vegan Food Quest you’ll know that we love to eat really good vegan food, but you might not realise that we also love to cook really good vegan food too.
As we’ve been travelling for a year, we’ve mainly been without a kitchen to cook up tasty plant based treats and it’s been one of the things we’ve missed the most about being away from home (apart from friends and family of course).
So when the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai invited us to try out their cookery school to see how they could adapt to a couple of vegan cooks; we jumped at the chance.
We started at Thanin Market in Chiang Mai for a very interesting tour and to get to know a bit about the ingredients we’d be using (plus we admit that we did find a few snacks along the way, courtesy of our guide ‘Bomb’ so it was a kind of eating and learning market tour:).
Bomb was a great market guide and answered all of our questions
The market was one of the best we’ve visited in South East Asia; really clean with friendly market vendors, prices labelled on the produce, a huge variety of fresh produce, herbs and a vegan food stall among those selling ready to eat food.
This sticky rice cooked in bamboo was so tasty
Thanin Market even had it’s own vegetarian food stall!
We loved the fact that the meat and fish sections were separated and in a different room, meaning we didn’t have to walk throughout them to get to the bits we wanted to see, yes, this is a truly vegan friendly market indeed.
The freshest of fresh vegetables
Inspired by our morning at the market, we headed to the awesome Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai to begin our lesson at their cookery school, the last time we took cooking lessons, we were much, much younger and cooped up in school home economics departments.
This time we were in a beautiful open kitchen amidst the tree tops, with the breeze blowing through the open sides of the classroom and with lovely people pouring us never ending cups of green tea.
If only our kitchen at home was like this…
Our teacher was called ‘Meow’; we asked her what this meant and she kindly informed us that it was the noise that a cat makes, she must have been thinking that her work was cut out for her at this stage, as she ushered us over to her bit of the kitchen where our lesson began.
Meow stands by as Caryl cooks some noodles (and burns them a little bit:)
We watched her make the first dish, a vegan version of Chiang Mai’s ‘Kaow Soi’ noodle soup using tahu (tofu) instead of chicken and rice noodles instead of egg noodles. Before we knew it, we were staring at our own woks, ingredients laid out in front of us, and were ready to try to replicate Meow’s genius in the kitchen.
The starting point for so many Thai dishes…
Luckily, our teacher stood by us, reminding us to add ingredients, turn the heat up and down and stir things whilst looking out for our safety and giving us loads of encouragement along the way.
Our very own red curry paste!
Cooking has never been this pleasurable (we didn’t even have to wash up).
In no time at all (vegan Thai food is insanely quick to cook) we had made our very own, vegan version of this famous regional dish and it was delicious (even if we do say so ourselves).
We sat down to eat our first creation in celebration of our new, successful Thai cooking skills and were really pleased that Meow had veganised the recipe for us, it was a coconut creamy, kaffir lime leaf, garlic and galangal infused dream, with rice noodles, tofu and pickles to boot.
Packed with Thai flavours our ‘Kaow Soi’ tasted pretty good!
But we couldn’t sit around eating and basking in our success for too long; there was pounding of spices in the pestle and mortar to be done and lunch to be prepared.
We made curry pastes, were educated on the correct bits of the lemongrass plant to use and were taught about the importance of the coriander root (the bit that’s normally chopped off and thrown away at home); a food revolution was taking place and the little enlightening pieces of knowledge Meow shared will stay with us forever.
Time to make more curry paste
Next up was a marinated mushroom dish wrapped in a banana leaf (those living in banana leaf void countries can use foil), the aromas from this dish were so intense we couldn’t wait to actually taste it!
The paste is ready
Fresh mushrooms marinating in the curry paste
Next, all of the ingredients are placed onto a banana leaf…
…then wrapped up ready for baking
Our other creations were a Northern Thai ‘Larb Tahu’ made with fiery Chiang Mai pepper, and ‘Nam Prink Ong Tahu’ which was a wonderful tomato based dish with dry roasted garlic, chillies and shallots.
Our Northern Thai ‘Larb Tahu’
The ‘Nam Prink Ong Tahu’ was delicious and packed full of flavour
Looking very pleased with our creations
Our lunchtime feast at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
And then we sat down in beautiful surroundings and ate everything we cooked, which as you can imagine was incredibly satisfying.
Just about to enjoy a delicious vegan lunch at the end of one of favourite days since Vegan Food Quest began over a year ago
Meow was an excellent teacher; patient, informative and very good humoured and importantly, she never once made us feel like we were strange for being vegan. She had everything prepared so the recipes we made used plant-based alternatives, helping us produce really delicious vegan food that was still true to the roots of Thai cuisine.
Plus we got to keep our aprons and recipes (which we’ll write up here for you and share with you we promise!). We even had a masterclass in vegetable carving which after the pre-lunch tomato-rose carving taster, one of us was very excited about. The results were hilarious or beautiful, depending on which side of the table you were sitting on.
We’ve done some pretty amazing things since our Vegan Food Quest to Find, Eat and Write about the Best Vegan Food in the World began but this has to go down as one of the best experiences we’ve had.
So much fun, so much learned and so much delicious vegan food, it was definitely a perfect day for us which was rounded off with a meal at Terraces which you can read about here,
Thank you to the whole team at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai for making our time with you so much fun – more details about experiencing ‘Your Own Thai Kitchen’ can be found here and you can book your own vegan cooking lessons by contacting the resort on +66 53 298-181.