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Learning how to cook authentic Thai food

Two things are important to us now when we travel: good food and good diving. Thailand checked both of those boxes off for us and passed with flying colors! Every single meal we had was insanely delicious, better than any Thai food I’ve tasted in the states.

Learning how to cook authentic Thai food was a must-do on our list. Through TripAdvisor, we found Phuket Thai Cooking by VJ, an intimate 6-person class where we could learn how to cook a variety of Thai dishes.

Our day started out with a visit to the local market. Markets like these are where locals and chefs get their fresh ingredients daily in preparation for that day’s cooking.

Our lovely instructor, VJ, walked us down each aisle of the market one-by-one and talked to us about the fresh produce, spices, seafood, sauces, pink eggs, fermented crabs… you name it! So many of the items were extremely foreign, but we learned so much about what’s native to Thailand and its people in that first portion of the class.

We also tried the most delicious fresh, tropical fruits, some of which I’d never even seen before. If you ever have the chance to enjoy mangosteen (below), do it! They’re kind of like lychees, but much sweeter and melt-in-your-mouth soft.

We also watched a vendor make fresh coconut milk, a staple for making curries. Authentic Thai cooking uses coconut milk pressed in a machine like this one every morning. It only lasts for a few hours, so locals must get their coconut milk for cooking specific dishes on the day of!

When we returned to the location of the class, it was time to get chopping!

First up was a green curry, made completely from fresh ingredients. This means no canned coconut milk or curry powders! Using a mortar and pestle, we ground each ingredient up as finely as possible. It’s definitely hard work (and that effort makes the curry taste that much better when you eat it!).

I was never actually a big fan of Thai curry before I came to this class.  If you go to a Thai restaurant in the states, more often than not, the curries will be mostly white with a hint of orange, yellow, or green. This means that the curry is mostly canned coconut milk, and not curry paste at all!

After I tasted the green curry that we learned to make, my world completely changed. The depth of flavor and balance of spices tasted SO amazing… dare I say, better than any food I’d tasted in restaurants or from street vendors during my visit in Thailand thus far?

We also learned to make Cashew Chicken Stir Fry and of course, Pad Thai. Both were super tasty too, but I still can’t stop thinking about the green curry that came first.

If you have the time while you’re in Thailand, definitely consider taking a cooking class to learn more about the local culture and produce. Give your taste buds a treat and take some of those learnings back home — so you can have authentic Thai food even when you’re not in Thailand!

Emily is a Los Angeles based content creator with a passion for photography, videography, and storytelling. Through @emwng, you'll find photos and videos of people, places, delicious food, and of course, her two fluffy sidekicks Kokoro and Chibi.

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