I love Asian food and as I'm sure you all know by now, I also love cookery courses so when I got invited to the School of Wok I jumped at the chance. With Dave in tow, I headed down to London a few months back for a full day Thai masterclass.
The School of Wok is a small, independent cookery school right on the doorstep of London's China Town. Founded by Jeremy Pang in 2009, the school specialises in Eastern cuisine with courses on everything Chinese from banqueting to dim sum, as well as Thai, Korean and Vietnamese. Our tutor Phillip was brilliant, really funny and with some excellent knife skills – what that man can do with a cleaver and a green pepper is beyond most of us!!
In a small group of eight we spent a very enjoyable day learning to cook some essential Thai dishes. Priced at £160 per person, the course runs from 10:30am - 4:30pm and covers the following dishes:
- Red Curry Duck
- Thai Green Chicken Curry
- Pad Thai Coconut Rice
- Tom Yum Soup
- Som Tam Salad
We also spent time learning how to use a traditional Chinese cleaver, wok skills and the art of making a perfect curry paste in a pestle and mortar (giving us killer muscles!).
First we made Som Tam (ส้มตำ) – green papaya salad. Som Tam is a really well known thai dish, which is salty, sour and sweet, with a crunchy dressing. The recipe we followed includes dried shrimp, peanuts, palm sugar and of course fish sauce. Slicing the green papaya thinly with a cleaver is harder than it sounds! We added extra chilli too, to give ours a real zing.
We then went on to make Red Curry Duck (เป็ดแดงแกง) and Thai Green Chicken Curry (ไทยแกงเขียวหวานไก่). We ate them for lunch along with the papaya salad and coconut sticky rice. The duck curry was absolutely delicious, stir-fried at a temperature I've always been too scared to reach at home. The key to a good stir-fry is just that though – a really high cooking temperature. Next time I make one I'm going to brave it because the results speak for themselves; vegetables which are slightly charred but not soggy and a sauce which has a toasted edge to it. Delicious.
I've made thai curry paste from scratch before but this one took it to another level. Between four of us, and for a good 20-30 minutes we pounded a massively long list of ingredients: garlic, shallots, lesser galangal (also known as Chinese keys), chillies, ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves, shrimp paste, basil and turmeric. The thai green curry was cooked low and slow and we learnt a few invaluable tips. For example, when you add your coconut milk to the curry paste, start with just the cream from the top of the can to begin with. If you add the entire can straight away, you end up basically poaching everything in the curry which I guess is why you sometimes get rubbery chicken. Once the paste and coconut milk have cooked through, you can add the rest of the milk and let it come to the boil before gobbling it up!
As well as having the expected ingredients like sugar snap peas, baby corn and chicken in it, the thai curry also had pea aubergines and baby aubergines in it. I've never seen pea aubergines before (they looked like little grapes) but apparently they are very common in Thailand. Phillip explained to us that being on the doorstep of Chinatown means that the school can always get access to really authentic ingredients which is probably one of the reasons why they are just so good at what they do!
We loved our time at the School of Wok. I've been on so many cookery school courses during my time as a food blogger but I think this one was my favourite. Our tutor was fun, informative and helpful. The small class size meant that we all had a go at everything and we were given hand outs to take away so that we can recreate the recipes at home.
Have you been to Thailand? What is your favourite dish to eat and cook?