Sometimes I feel that I research too much and after spending about three days pawing over the number of cooking schools in Bangkok, calling them, talking with them and agonising over how much money was wise to spend, I finally felt prepared enough to book our own experience.
The moment I broached the subject of cooking classes with the kids, they were hugely excited. They kept pestering me to see if I had chosen a school, whether they’d cater for us (plant-based, fussy eaters) and if they could attend.
You can imagine their utter joy, delight and excitement when I received an email from Sompong Cooking School welcoming us to join them.
- 1 How did I choose Sompong?
- 2 Arriving at the venue
- 3 Meeting our teachers
- 4 They gave us recipe books!
- 5 Chopping veg
- 6 Carving Thai fruit
- 7 4 vegan dishes in 3 hours!
- 8 Cooking the dishes
- 9 A visit to the market
- 10 Pin this
How did I choose Sompong?
The website was quirky and it showed some personality and forethought. It was also really easy to use and follow. It detailed the classes and the menus, was easy to navigate and was very specific about payment and expectations.
I wanted to visit a market as well as learn how to make traditional sticky rice and mango. Anything else was a bonus.
We paid 4,000 baht for all of us to attend + a little tip. This was the cheapest course that I found but I felt as if it offered the best value for money too.
Proximity to where we were staying
The school was just a 10 minute walk from where we were staying and although using public transport in Bangkok is cheap and easy, it’s time consuming and leaves me as a sweaty mess!
Arriving at the venue
The venue is pretty easy to find and it’s easily identifiable from the sign hanging on the front door. It does just look like the downstairs of a house though so if you go, be aware that that’s what you’re looking for.
We took our shoes off at the door, donned the compulsory flip-flops and sat down at the laid places on the table. We were invited to help ourselves to refreshments (delicious lemon tea) and get comfortable.
Meeting our teachers
We met Preaw our teacher and Yui the assistant who were both extraordinarily patient and helpful – bearing in mind my children were all brandishing sharp knifes lol.
They gave us recipe books!
I was so excited that they gave us proper recipe books and I’ve cherished it since. It sets out recipes for sauces I’ve never quite got right as well as other recipes which I would probably not have tried to make.
We were taught how to finely chop condiments such as garlic, lemon grass and shallots as well as pulverise spices in the pestle and mortar.
All of our belongings have been in storage for what seems like an eternity now and my beloved stone pestle and mortar hasn’t been used or seen in at least a year now. Whilst travel absolutely nourishes and educates children, there is no doubt that they do miss out on certain elements of ‘normal life’.
It was really great to see the kids chopping their vegetables and using the pestle and mortar with smiles and loving what they were doing.
Carving Thai fruit
Gosh this is challenging! Skinning the tomato with a super long knife is a skill and not one that I’m good at. Of course Preaw made it look really easy and she did it so quickly and perfectly. Our tomatoes were a little more ‘industrial’ looking.
Here’s mine! Not a bad first attempt but could be much better.
4 vegan dishes in 3 hours!
All the dishes we made were adapted to be vegan. Chicken was replaced with tofu and minced pork was replaced with mushrooms and baby corn. Butter could be replaced with coconut or soy bean oil, if necessary.
First we started with coconut sticky rice which is a huge favourite in our household. Shocking to see how much sugar goes into it and we will be trying to make our next batch with xylitol (birch tree sugar).
I have to be honest, when I heard that we were having lemon grass salad for starter I was disappointed. I love the smell of lemongrass but the texture for me has always been hard and chewy. A bit like chewing wood bark.
I was wrong!
It was delicious. The art of learning how to chop it finely, leaving it to soak in the lime juice and eating fresh ingredients makes a huge difference.
The portions were incredibly generous and I couldn’t believe that we were eating what was effectively a four course meal. I was stuffed! Thankfully we were allowed to take it home with us.
The potato curry was a flavoursome but spicy dish that was born out of the spices we had pummeled in the pestle and mortar earlier; a variation of red Thai curry. Topped with crunchy shallots it was divine.
Rice noodles are a staple of Thai cuisine and they’re delicious. We opted to make ours hot and spicy with extra chilli powder.
The recipes are unbelievably simple. Simple enough for all three of our kids to read and follow but it’s amazing how tasty they all were. It made me realise just how wrong I had been getting our Thai dishes.
Cooking the dishes
Just a few photos of the kids cooking and how Sompong made their visit very special.
Immy was given a wooden block to stand on so she could be tall enough to cook alone. They weren’t molly-coddled and were allowed to chop with the knifes, turn the gas on, cook alone and it was FANTASTIC. Their confidence sky-rocketed that afternoon and for that I am very grateful.
Sompong inspired my kids to want to cook and for the following three days (until we left), they planned, shopped and cooked together. How awesome is that! Sompong was definitely the catalyst for inspiring them.
A visit to the market
As we took the afternoon class there was no class visit to the market so we popped along to the market the next morning. The market runs every morning and can be found on Soi Silom 20 in Bang Rak.
There is an indoor market there too where you can watch and buy coconut cream and milk being made.
Sompong Cooking School – where dreams REALLY do come true!