Friday, March 13, 2015

March 9th – Cooking School in Phuket

Having mastered Vietnamese cuisine in Hoi An, my mission today was to get to grips with the wonderful flavours of Thai food, in Phuket. So, I joined the ship's tour to the wonderful Blue Elephant Cookery School in Phuket Town, housed in a beautiful old mansion, that used to belong to one of the rich Chinese tin magnates.

Tracy and I had previously done a course at the Blue Elephant in Bangkok, so we knew that this one would be good, but it more than met my expectations, as we created some really tasty and spicy Thai standards.

We started off with a walk down to the outdoor market – this one wasn't nearly as chaotic or smelly as the town's indoor one that we'd visited previously. Everyone was very friendly, and the range of colourful and exotic fruit and veg was excellent. When you have such great ingredients as these, it's not difficult to see why the cuisine is so good.

Then, it was time to get creating. It was all very clean, hygienic and well organised, and our chef was very good at suggesting alternative ingredients in case we couldn't get all these exotic vegetables back in the West. We made a delicious coconut milk soup, crispy golden bags stuffed with prawn and chicken (kind of like deep-fried wantons – my favourite of the lot), a spicy green mango salad with crispy fish, and stir fried chicken with red curry. Everyone on the tour really bonded as we worked our way through the dishes.

The chef would talk us through it first, then give a tasting, then we'd prepare our own version, for them to serve us for lunch. Each dish involved some chilli, and he'd tell us how many he would use, but we "could use less, if don't like hot". Being an idiot, I took this as a challenge, so I matched him chilli for chilli – that proved to be a mistake.

Of course, the best bit was the eating, and the lunch was delicious, although I did regret the over-use of the chillies a little, as my mouth progressed from tingling, to red hot, to on fire. As ever, you live and you learn, so I will not be so gung ho with the spices when I re-create these fantastic dishes back home.

A really well organised and fun tour.