Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chiang Mai's Street Markets

Let me take you on a photo journey through Chiang Mai's street markets.

In my experience, Chiang Mai is the best place in Thailand to do shopping. It has the most reasonable prices, the biggest variety of products, and there are three different street markets for tourists to choose from.

There are many similarities between the three street markets, but some of the vendors and products are quite different, so if you can, I would recommend checking all three of them. Also, again in my experience, the prices are lower and vendors more willing to negotiate on Saturday and Sunday walking street markets. The map below shows the location of each of these street markets.

Red Color - Sunday Night Walking Street - Takes place on Sunday between 5 P.M. and 12 A.M.
Blue Color - Saturday Night Walking Street - Takes place on Saturday between 5 P.M. and 12 A.M.
Green Color - Night Bazaar - Takes place every day between 5 P.M. and 12 A.M.

View Chiang Mai's Street Markets in a larger map

Even if you think that you aren't the shopping type, I guarantee that you wouldn't be able to resist the variety of high-quality, low-priced souvenirs and gifts that can be bought in Thailand. Just take a look for yourself.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thai Cooking Course

One of the most enjoyable memories from my trip to Thailand is a day-long Thai cooking course. This memory has potential to be long-lasting, as I plan to implement what I learned in my everyday cooking.

Mouth-watering Thai Food: Green Curry, Fried Tofu Cakes, Stir Fried Tofu with Cashews, and Tofu Souffle

We learned ins and outs of Thai cooking at Gap's Thai Culinary Arts Cooking School in Chiang Mai, which I can wholeheartedly recommend. One simple argument in their favor is that at Gap's you'll learn how to cook more Thai dishes than you would at any other school in Chiang Mai (for the same price and during the same duration of time). Moreover, I can attest that teachers there are fantastic! They're friendly, chatty, have good sense of humor, smile a lot, and they know their stuff. The three of us–Agnieszka, Wojtek, and I–had a great time during the course and also afterward, as some of the food we cooked we took with us to enjoy for dinner.

The course lasted six hours during which–magically–we cooked EIGHT dishes each AND went for a shopping expedition to a local market. Such high efficiency of learning and cooking was possible because all ingredients that we needed were washed, cleaned and chopped up for us, so we could simply grab them and start cooking whenever we were ready. I wish I had someone to do that job for me in San Francisco... (husband, hint, hint)

Here's a list and below are photos of the eight dishes that I cooked. As I'm vegetarian, all of these dishes are either with tofu or veggies.
  1. Green Curry Tofu (we also learned how to make the Green Curry Paste)
  2. Steamed Tofu Souffle in the Banana Leaf Cup
  3. Stir-fried Tofu with Cashews
  4. Thai-style Tofu Cakes
  5. Spicy & Sour Lemongrass Soup with Oyster Mushrooms
  6. Steamed Pumpkin with Coconut Custard
  7. Vegetarian Spring Roll
  8. Pad Thai
During the course we also learned how to make plain and sticky rice, as well as how to carve onions and tomatoes into flowers.

The course started with a visit to a local market, where Mai–one of our teachers–introduced us to some of Thai veggies, herbs and spices.
At a local market

Afterward we went to the Gap's school, where the real cooking started.
Here's our second teacher and his cooking philosophy: "How much of the spices you should add? I don't know. Just try your dish and figure it out. You want it sweeter, add sugar. You want it more salty, add soy sauce..."

Green curry with tofu

Seems ready to me!

And here it is, ready to be eaten.

Tofu souffle in the banana leaf cup

Steaming in progress
Pre-cut ingredients for stir fried tofu with cashew nuts

Let's make this pan hot!

Stirring, frying, mixing...

Ready: stir fried tofu with cashew nuts

Agnieszka and Wojtek working on their fish and chicken cakes

Meanwhile I'm frying tofu cakes

Fried tofu cakes
And here they are: perfect tofu cakes!

And for dessert steamed pumpkin with coconut custard

Final product: steamed pumpkin with coconut custard
The last dish that needs to be finished before lunch is spicy & sour lemongrass soup with oysters

Ready: spicy & sour lemongrass soup with oysters

My delicious five-course lunch: Green Curry, Stir-fried Tofu with Cashews, Tofu Cakes, Spicy & Sour Soup with Oysters, Steamed Tofu Souffle, and Rice

Mai is teaching us how to carve an onion into a flower

Carved onions

Carved tomatoes
We're making spring rolls–clearly, it's a job that demands a lot of focus ;)

My vegetarian spring rolls

And last but not least: Pad Thai

Friends, if you want to try out my new cooking repertoire please stop by for dinner next month!