Learning to Cook in Thailand & Cashew Chicken Recipe!

27 May 2014

I've been in love with the flavors of Thai food from the moment I tasted it. There's so much complexity, but yet it's simple, good food. It's affordable recipes made for working people. Large part of my travel to Thailand would of course be the food. I wanted to stop at every single street vendor and everything I saw. I was so excited to be able to take a cooking class and learn more about what goes into my favorite exotic flavored dishes.

I choose Thai Farm Cooking school in part from Melyssa's recommendation and also because I loved the idea of not only learning the act of cooking, but getting a better understanding of the ingredients by visiting a local market and a small family farm. At the market, we learned to identify different types of rice and how to find the essentials of Thai cooking - sweet, sour, spicy, and salty.

After the market, we piled into the truck with our ingredients and drove out to a beautiful rural farm outside of Chiang Mai. Our instructor, Liam, was amazingly knowledgeable and so full of energy that she made the day so incredibly fun. She took us through the farm and showed us all the different plants and let us smell and taste the freshest ingredients. It got me really inspired and excited for my garden this year! She talked about age old companion planting to keep bugs at bay and make the flavors better and it was really inspirational for my own little garden at home!

Learning the difference between different types of basil
Sampling fresh tumeric from the garden

I was lucky to have an amazing class full of people that were just so sweet and so fun. We bonded at the market by eating bugs together, shared our food and travel stories, and it was like a wonderful little family with these 8 other strangers I had just met! That is one of the great, unexpected things about travel.

Ingredients for yellow curry ready to be diced and crushed to a paste

Just hanging out in my farm attire and making some curry paste!
The final result of my hammering away with the mortar and pedstal!

And the yummy finished product of yellow coconut curry!
The farm was a gorgeous place to explore and relax during our breaks.  There was lots of eating during the class and we were all super full at the end of the day!

During the class, we each choose 5 dishes to make. I made a yellow curry, Tom yum soup, pad thai, cashew chicken, and mango sticky rice. the curry was ground the old fashioned way with fresh ingredients and a mortar and pedestal.  I loved that we were given options and even through I didn't make the other dishes that were an option, I got to learn a little about them by watching by classmates and we all shared our creations, so it was a pretty fantastic Thai feast!

At the end of class, we got a cookbook with all the recipes. I'm so excited to try these things out at home!

And in case you are interested in giving it a try, here's an amazing and simple cashew chicken recipe from the Thai Farm Cooking School website!  It's super fun to make and comes together in a jiffy!

Chicken with Cashew Nuts (Gai Phad Met Mamuang Him Mapaan)
Makes about 1-2 servings

1/4 pound of sliced chicken or tofu
1/4 cup of roasted cashew nuts
1/4 cup of sliced carrots
1/4 cup of sliced onions
2 sliced roasted and dried chillis, without seeds
1/4 cup of chopped spring onions
1/4 cup of mushrooms
2 tbsp. of soybean oil
a pinch of salt
1 tsp. of fish sauce
1/2 tsp. of sugar
1 tbsp. of oyster sauce
2 tbsp. of water

Heat the oil in the wok. Fry the chicken until golden brown. Add carrots, onions, mushrooms and water. Stir fry until almost cooked. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, salt and spring onions. Stir fry again until mixed well. When done, turn off the heat and add cashew nuts and roasted chilli. Serve with rice.

What is your favorite Thai dish? Have you even taken a cooking class in a foreign country?  I definitely hope I can make cooking classes part of my travel experiences as much as I can!


  1. Looks yummy! I think taking cooking courses in other countries can be a lot of fun, we just took one 2 weeks ago in Vietnam and it was fun to learn a bit more about the local cuisine.

  2. wow this looks like an amazing experience. i looooove thai curry and would love to learn how to make it sometime. yum!

  3. What an awesome experience! I love taking cooking classes when I travel. They're such a great way to experience a little more of the local lifestyle. And I love Thai food, so I'm totally trying that recipe!

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  5. Hey, I had a similar experience in Bali. It was fun no? Btw mango sticky rice is my favorite!! Was it easy to make?

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