Learning the Secrets of Cooking Amazing Thai Dishes

I’m taking a break from blog posts about Europe and I am writing about my most recent adventures in the land of smiles, Thailand.

After my first solo travel experience in Bangkok, various travels around the islands, and living in Chiang Mai, I will definitely be back. No doubt, Thailand is one of my most favorite countries.

One of my dearest soul sisters has moved to Singapore and she invited me to visit upon knowing I will be back in Manila. I found a few things I like about Singapore but it’s not on my repeat places to visit. So I proposed to meet in Southern Thailand instead and offered her my free adventure guided tour. Getting her to agree was easy simply because I told her that not only will I introduce her to delicious and authentic Thai food but we shall also learn the fine art of cooking Thai dishes.

So where in Thailand did we have our cooking adventures? Here I present to you our delicious adventures at Time for Lime Cooking School in Ko Lanta.

Time for Lime Ko Lanta

Time for Lime beach front bar

Time for Lime Cooking School was the first cooking school on the beautiful island of Ko Lanta. It is located right on Klong Dao beach front.

We were biking around the island and we stopped by the day before our class to reserve our spot. It is highly recommended that you book a day in advance as the classes can get very full. Everyday except Sunday, the school has different sets of menus.

The first time I learned to cook in Thailand was at an organic farm in Chiang Mai. For this class, it was my first time to try fusion cooking by the beach. And I absolutely loved hearing the waves of the Andaman sea, listening to cool jazz music while we cook our delicious food.

What’s included in the fee is a 6 plate menu, guesthouse/ hotel pick up and drop off, a few lovely surprises and a list of recipe for your records. Since we were traveling on a low season, we got a discount and paid THB 1600 ($50) each. This was the most expensive cooking class I tried in Southeast Asia but surely the class is worth every penny and by far the best cooking class I’ve been to. Not only that, we were surprised to find out that we were the only two students for the Wednesday class making it a private session for us. During the high season, classes could run up to 20 people a day. We couldn’t get any luckier!

Mai Presenting the Chilis

The woman who taught us to kill it in the kitchen

Every time I go home in the US and the Philippines, I make dishes for my family and relatives and this June I was able to host my first food tasting party at my aunt’s home in New Jersey. I have an aunt who taught me not only the art of negotiating in markets but also how to cook from scratch and tasty meals in no time. It’s a bit challenging to impress my aunts since they are excellent cooks. However, no one in my family cooks Thai food. So as the Thai food fanatic that I am, I served them with some of the Thai dishes I learned in the past and they love it. Another reason why I love Thai food. I’ve done several cooking classes and this was the only class that gave a detailed theoretical approach to the concept of Thai cooking. Our class not only started with a theoretical introduction but also a special food tasting on a leaf. 

Thailand in one bite

Thailand in one bite

Our teacher said: “Close your eyes and open your mouth!”

I did as we were told and in a second my mouth was bursting with flavors.

I know for sure that I have chosen an excellent class.

Let’s begin.

The Menu

Red Curry Paste (kruang gaeng ped)

Anna making red curry

Mai cracking a joke while I smash the chilies, herbs and spices

Curry pastes are a staple Thai ingredient. A sample of which are green, red, massaman and penang curry pastes. I have cooked meals with red curry however, I only buy a Thai red curry paste because it requires a lot of effort.

The best part about making your own red curry paste is not only because of its freshness but also because you can adjust the level of spiciness according to your taste.

As Mai says: 1 chili= no spicy; 2 chilies= medium spicy; 3 chilies= spicy; 4 chilies= hospital

Ze curry

Ze red curry

It takes a lot of time and effort (minimum 30 minutes) to make the paste but it’s well worth it. The difference between a supermarket red curry paste and a home made curry paste is like night and day all the way from the scent to the taste.

Tangy Coconut Soup with Fresh Thai Herbs (tom kha)

Chefs with Knives

Kill it!

The number 1 tool you need for great cooking is an excellent knife. The knife that we had in class is one of the best knives I’ve used. Just look at how finely chopped the veggies are in my soup:

Tangy Coconut Soup

Viola!

Shrimp with Holy Basil (pad kaprow goong)

Shrimp with Holy Basil

Holy Basil makes this simple dish heavenly

This dish is one of the most famous food in Thailand that is enjoyed everywhere in the country from the streets to fine dining. Locals would normally add an egg on top of it.

Another must have in the kitchen aside from an excellent knife is an Asian wok pan. You can cook a variety of dishes with this magical tool. Here we used it for our stir fried dish.

Anna's creation

Tada!

Fish cakes with a “kick” (tod man pla) and my favorite Tofu, Chili and Cashew Nuts

After our break and finishing our delicious meals, we’re on to our next two dishes. And just like the past two dishes, we had followed the same procedure.

Prepare:

Ingredients

Sauces, herbs and spices (check out our red curry paste)

Pick Up

Anna cooking

Dangerous woman in the kitchen

The difference between the first stir-fry to the second one is that the second one should be done on very high heat and in 10 seconds, my super tasty tofu, chili and cashew nuts is ready to serve.Yum!

Present

Finished Product

Nomnomnom

Why We Love Time For Lime (a lot)

We Love Time for Lime

We enjoyed the cooking and the eating part (+ the cocktails)

Aside from the creative Thai and fusion cooking classes with six sets of different menus to choose from, the school boasts a very funky and chill atmosphere that makes cooking experience more fun. If you’re not into cooking, you can also be a lazy partner and you will have your food cooked for you instead.

The school not only has the most entertaining and lively teacher Mai who does her job with so much passion and love but also has the friendliest group of staff members from the people in the kitchen and the bar all the way down to the animals. You would immediately feel the good vibes of the people in this place. It’s not only their workplace but it is their second home.

What makes Time for Lime even more special is that the owner established Lanta Animal Welfare’s animal center for rescued dogs and cats in the island. The center of which was built entirely by the profits of Time for Lime. Not only will you have a great time but also know that your money is going towards a good cause. When my friend left Ko Lanta, I moved to the bungalows in Time for Lime and made it my home for the three weeks I was here. I could not have chosen a much better place to live and eat.

And last but not the least, it was only in this class where we learned the secret of cooking amazing dishes. So you might ask what is it? I decided not to include it here because I think everyone who likes Thai food should visit Time for Lime and try their dishes. My friend and I left the class with such happy bellies. Learning has never been so much fun. For us one thing is for sure- our dishes will never be the same again.

To great friendships, cooking, food and fun adventures,

Anna

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Author:Anna

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2 Responses to “Learning the Secrets of Cooking Amazing Thai Dishes”

  1. Joey
    August 26, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Definitely an experience of a lifetime! :) Cheers to more fun & food adventures my soulsis ♡

    • October 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      Thanks for sharing it with me <3