Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Trialling the Thai Cookery School at Thaikhun

A couple of weeks' back I joined a small group of other bloggers and journalists for an evening of Thai cookery with the lovely team at Thaikhun, a restaurant I had the pleasure of sampling at the end of last year when it opened in Bath's Little Southgate Quarter. Having come away from that occasion feeling very impressed with the place, I was keen to make a return visit. However, this time it would be me doing the cooking. Hmmm...

Very competent at my small but perfectly formed repertoire of personal classics - I'm great at Bolognese, risotto and other Italian standards - I'm not so hot on more exotic cuisines. My curries are often disappointing and even Delia's fool-proof Thai curry recipe has turned out to be not to be so fool-proof in my less than capable hands. So it was with a slight sense of trepidation that I rose to the challenge of testing my skills at Thaikhun's newly established cooking school.

Just launched, the school runs at the Bath branch every fourth Sunday (other dates are available at Thaikhun's other locations), inviting Thai food aficionados to create their very own two-course feast. Led by an experienced chef - in our case a very lovely lady who had travelled down from the Manchester branch especially - the two-hour sessions are designed to give you a grounding in the basics of Thai cookery, impart some interesting know-how and give you the opportunity to socialise while you enjoy a starter and main course made by your own fair hands.

For our session, we started out by making vegetable spring rolls - so much easier than I'd expected, though there is a bit of a knack to rolling them like a pro. But with a Gin Cooler to hand, any worries I'd had about my cooking limitations started to fade away and I began to really enjoy the experience. 

It helped that our guide for the evening was very funny, keeping us engaged with her insider knowledge and personable teaching style. In fact, it felt nothing like a 'lesson' but more of an informal invitation into a friend's kitchen - I didn't feel intimidated or insecure about my abilities at any time during the evening.
After whipping up our spring rolls - a mix of vermicelli noodles, finely chopped carrot, mushroom and cabbage, as well as a spices, herbs, ginger and soy sauce - they were whisked off to be deep fried while we got on with the important task of choosing another cocktail from Thaikhun's menu (I highly recommend the coconut mojito.)

Then the moment of truth arrived as our first course was delivered and I'm happy to say mine and my guest's (it was a joint effort) were absolutely delicious and nothing like the greasy, anaemic looking spring rolls that often turn up in your takeaway.

Refreshed and ready to take on our main course, we returned to our cookery stations to be guided through the steps needed to create the perfect Thai Green Curry. Like the spring rolls, this task wasn't anywhere near as scary as I'd anticipated. Turns out some simple tricks of the trade and knowing how to create the perfect, proper curry paste is the key. 

We were introduced to some exotic ingredients such as Galangal and palm sugar, and instructed how to use the coconut milk to get a perfectly creamy consistency for our curries. Taking just a short time to master, we were directed back to our tables to enjoy our left over spring rolls, bowls of steaming rice and our curries - and I'm pleased to report that, for once, my curry was well above passable. 

I left Thaikhun feeling pretty confident about replicating these recipes in my own kitchen and inspired to venture beyond my cooking comfort zone every so often. And with a few exotic cocktails sloshing around in our tummies too, me and my guest went home glowing from an evening very well spent. 
For more information on Thaikhun's cooking school, visit the website here. You can also read my review of the restaurant here.

I enjoyed a complimentary visit to Thaikhun but all words and opinions are my own. 

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