Thai food is my top obsession, and even though I write about burgers more often than anything else, I’d pick a big bowl of coconut curry (green or panang) as my last meal. At home, we’ve mastered several types of curry, but other endeavors, like perfecting peanut sauce, and making pad thai that doesn’t turn into a gloppy ball of sticky noodes, have been trickier. So, when I got an invitation to attend a class at Hipcooks, San Diego’s newest cooking school, I signed up for “Thai One On”.
I chose the class due to my own personal obsession with Thai food, but you can learn how to cook several dishes from almost any cuisine, ranging from dim sum to Moroccan. The set-up is a little bit more casual than most cooking schools, with a good mix of instruction and hands-on learning. Did I mention you get to eat a lot of food throughout the class? Ours was divided into four courses, and after preparing the dishes for each course, we’d take a seat at the table and sample the goods. In my haste and hunger panic, I didn’t take photos of everything, but this is what we made:
salad rolls, satay chicken with a spicy peanut ginger sauce, coconut sticky rice with shrimp
pad thai with tofu, green papaya salad (pictured above)
green curry with shitake, red curry with chicken
forbidden rice with coconut cream
The biggest highlight of the class was making the two curry pastes from scratch: something I’ve never felt confident enough to attempt. The green was much more herbacious than the stuff you get in a tub, and the red curry, which was blended up with cashews, had a slightly Indian flavor profile and was surprisingly creamy, even though there was no dairy or coconut milk. I loved them both, but my favorite thing we made was the spicy peanut sauce. I can already see many servings of it in my future.
Our instrutor, Tristan, gave several tips throughout the lesson, ranging from technique helpers (use a spoon to take the skin off ginger) to advice for what to do with extra curry paste (freeze it in ice cube trays).
All classes run 3 hours and cost $55, including food and all materials (including the recipes, which get emailed to you after the class — no need to take notes!) If you really love the experience, you can volunteer as an assistant and after your third time, take any class you want for free. All classes for the next 3 months are on the class schedule so take a look (and don’t hesitate to sign up — they fill up quickly). The next available Thai One On classes are June 23 and July 12.