Our Flight Centre Travel Expert Liz Goodbrand shares her recent experience in Thailand and some of the amazing dishes you need to experience when you’re there.
It seems hard to find anyone these days who has not tried Thai food in some way, shape or form, but let me guarantee you one thing – until you have had it in Thailand, you have not had it at all!
I am fortunate to have been able to visit Thailand twice now – once on my honeymoon in 2009, and most recently on a GOGO Vacation. My first thought when I found out I was returning had to do with my taste buds. Having tried multiple Thai restaurants in Ottawa, my husband and I had yet to find one with a truly authentic flavour, so my mission was not only to eat as much food as humanly possible while I was away in Thailand, but also to find recipes for those flavours that we had not been able to replicate at any dining experiences since our return.
Cue my favourite part of this vacation; the afternoon that we spent at a Thai cooking class in Chaweng Beach on the island of Samui. The school is called SITCA (Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts) and is quite prestigious, having been noted on the BBC, Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, and more. In fact, chefs from other areas of the world visit this school while in Samui to take back skills to use in their own kitchens. Needless to say, it was quite the honour for us to be able to learn from such professionals.
Thai food is so much more than some Pad Thai noodles on a plate sprinkled with peanuts; it is artistic, it is healthy, it is yin and yang, and oh so delicious! Every dish attempts a balance of spicy, sour, sweet and salty, and if a particular dish is too much of one and not enough of another for your taste, on every traditional Thai table is a set of 4 condiments including sugar, chilli flakes, rice vinegar, and phrik nampla, which is made up of fish sauce and chillies, (and is not for the faint of heart). Thai food is traditionally served family style and shared by all with rice on the side. A fork and spoon are used except for with noodles – that is the only time you pull out the chopsticks.
As far as the preparation, our chef/teacher joked that Thai food takes 2 hours to prepare and only 2 minutes to cook! Fruits and vegetables are usually cut in a very specific way, and differently for different dishes. Lots of seafood is used, of course, but also chicken, pork and tofu – most dishes can be made vegetarian as well. At our cooking class we made, of course, the famous Pad Thai, but also a coconut soup, green curry, and spicy fish salad, and I could not believe how amazing they were! The great part about it was that some ingredients that may be more difficult to find at home, such as tamarind paste, are available for purchase from SITCA so you can recreate the deliciousness in your own kitchen, as long as you have some time and a wok!
So if you are thinking about a trip to Thailand, what most people say about this country is true; the beaches are beautiful, the people are amazing, and the massages are cheap, but you should definitely check out SITCA and learn some Thai cooking while you are away. Washed down with a cold Singha beer, you will certainly not regret it!
Looking for more information on travelling to Thailand? Liz Goodbrand is an International Travel Consultant at our Flight Centre Place d’Orleans in Ottawa, Ontario and can contacted online or by calling 1-866-704-5374.