A Wondrous Evening in Bangkok

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Travel | 0 comments

Wondrous may seem a bit hyperbolical, but it definitely describes the awesomeness that is a May Kaidee vegan cooking class! After eating at one of May Kaidee’s restaurants earlier in the week, a friend and I decided we had to have more and signed up for her “Singles and Lovers” class. We were lucky to have May Kaidee herself and one of her staff spend the entire evening with just the two of us. 

Fresh Ingredients for Spring Rolls

Fresh ingredients for spring rolls

 

May Kaidee Spring rolls

Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

It was amazing: we learned how to wrap our own spring rolls, make chili paste, peanut sauce, tom yam soup, tom kha soup, green papaya salad, pad thai, ginger and cashew nut stirfry, green curry, massaman curry, and mango and sticky rice for dessert, all in the course of one beautiful evening.  We also received a book that included the recipes taught in the class, as well a few more, and tips on how to make the perfect sticky rice among other things.   During the class we learned a few of May Kaidee’s tricks and techniques and created healthy, vegan dishes that were bursting with freshness and flavor. Sap sap (yum yum in Thai!)

May Kaidee Tom Yam Soup

Tom Yam Soup

 

May Kaidee Tom Kha Soup

Tom Kha Soup

What was surprising to me was the simplicity of it all!  Most dishes came together in just 5 minutes (not counting prep time).  Regardless of whether we were cooking soup, stirfry or curry, the only tools we needed were a  nice, hot wok and a spatula. Just a handful ingredients in different combinations form the basis of most Thai dishes: coconut milk, galangal (thai ginger which is quite distinct from regular ginger), lemongrass, garlic, green and red chilies, dark and light soy sauce, tomatoes, brown sugar, basil, and kaffir lime leaves and juice. The key to Thai cooking is finding the perfect balance between the sweet, sour, spicy and salty, and when you do the combination of flavors is just phenomenal. 

Key ingredients in Thai cooking

Key ingredients in Thai cooking

We were so excited to eat the pad thai, I forgot to take a photo until we had devoured it!

We were so excited to eat the pad thai, I forgot to take a photo until we had devoured it!

Me, preparing green papaya salad.

Me, preparing green papaya salad.

 

Beautiful green papaya salad. I made that!

Beautiful green papaya salad. I made that!

As we were cooking last night, May Kaidee and her staff told us a few times to “take it easy” and just relax and enjoy it.  There’s no need to worry about exactness or perfection, just use the ingredients you have on hand, adjust the seasonings to taste, and be willing to experiment!

Cooking green curry

Cooking green curry

My favorite Thai dessert: mango and sticky rice!

My favorite Thai dessert: mango and sticky rice!

After we finished eating May taught us a Thai cooking song and we danced a little to work off some of the calories and aid digestion. 

Striking a pose!

Striking a pose!

I’m not going to reveal any of May Kaidee’s recipes or her techniques, you can explore them for yourself. She has a beautiful e-book with vegan and vegetarian recipes and the other has demonstration videos, available on her website. I bought a copy of her cookbook to bring home with me and I’m really looking forward to trying more recipes out!

I can't wait to try the recipes at home!

I can’t wait to try the recipes at home!

She has developed a handy app for vegans and vegetarians, and others with food allergies, who are travelling in Thailand. The app helps to explain your dietary restrictions or ask about ingredients in food in Thai! I’m definitely downloading that ahead of my next trip to Bangkok. May also had a selection of teas, different types of curry paste, chili paste and a few other key ingredients and tools for sale in the restaurant.  I stocked up on lemongrass, green, rose and flower teas. Don’t they look beautiful?

Teas

Beautiful teas.

The class ends with either a trip to the night market or flower market, or a one-hour Thai massage.  After a long and incredibly intense week, my friend and I opted for the massage (we couldn’t leave Bangkok without one!). May walked us to a local spa situated in the last remaining traditional Thai house in Banglamphu district. The spa itself was a beautiful respite from the loud and bustling street outside, with dark wood floors, high ceilings, water features and gorgeous open spaces. The massage was just what I needed. The extremely skilled therapist pummeled, kneaded, stretched and contorted my body to release the tension that had built up during the week. It was a perfect way to end the trip!  

If you’re in Bangkok take a class with May Kaidee. I highly recommend it and can guarantee you won’t regret it! I already have visions dancing in my head of ways that I can use what I learned in the class to create my own recipes. And of course, now that I know how to make the perfect pad thai, I anticipate that it will become a staple recipe in our household for some time to come!

For those of you who may be wondering, we did cook with wheat soy sauces and I have been eating them all week because they are pretty much impossible to avoid if you want to eat Thai food. I am lucky to just have gluten sensitivities, and not celiac disease, so I am able to tolerate it in very small quantities in things like soy sauce.  But even with that, I have definitely hit my limit and I have been bloated to the point that I look pregnant for the last couple of days. Not so fun.

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