The Blue Elephant Cooking School is a great way to discover traditional Thai cuisine, from the markets to cooking in the kitchen and finally savouring the dishes you learn to make. Different dishes are taught everyday, so students can choose to attend lessons on multiple days, both as a group or in a private lesson. All the staff are super friendly and keen to explain the different ingredients and cooking techniques.
I joined the morning class, which starts with a tour of the Bang Rak markets that is accessed by taking the Sky Train to the Saphan Taksin Station. The first stop is the fruit and vegetable stall, where the cooking tutor introduces a whole range of local ingredients. These include the Queen of all fruits - the Mangosteen and the King of all fruits - Durian. The sour and sweet tamarind varieties, which are used in a variety of Thai sauces. Additionally, there are two different types of papayas. The long and narrow ones are mainly used for som tum (papaya salad), whilst the fat and short ones are sweeter and used for dessert.
After the market tours we head back to the cooking school, where students learn four dishes for the day. The tutor would demonstrate the dishes first, then students would enter the kitchen to prepare ingredients and start cooking! On the Tuesday that I visited, we learnt how to make Yum Ma Keua Koong Sod (Eggplant Salad with Prawns), Tod Mann Plaa (Thai Fish Cake), Kaeng Phed Kai Nor Mai (Red Curry with Chicken and Bamboo Shoots) and Pad Thai (Stir-fried Rice Noodle with Prawns).
Students have the option to take away the dishes prepared in the kitchen, or opt to enjoy the meal at the restaurant itself (you can invite someone if you cannot finish it all!). A souvenir apron and recipe cards are provided to all who attend.
Next time you visit Bangkok, be sure to check out the Blue Elephant Cooking School! Call in to make a booking in advance. For those who choose the afternoon session, the market tour won't take place but an extra dessert dish is taught! Check out the website for more information.