Best Thai Food Ever! Sammy’s Organic Cooking School

It’s no secret that I love food, especially with loads of flavor and spice. If you’ve read my past posts, I’ve been a bit disappointed with the Thai food that I’ve been eating. Thai food is supposed to have a ton of flavor that is perfectly balanced and makes your mouth and body scream out for the joy of eating more. I didn’t have that experience until today.

And today, I had it over and over and over again.

Let me start from the beginning.

There are a lot of Thai cooking schools to choose from and making the decision for one is not easy. Mr. King saw a flyer for Sammy’s Organic Cooking School and the word Organic caught his eye. Then he saw that it was on a farm (away from the pollution) in the middle of rice fields and that just sealed the deal. We were going to take a full day class at Sammy’s Organic Cooking School just outside of Chiang Mai.

We arranged to take the cooking class with our friends from Living Outside of the Box and WorldSchool Adventures. Sammy picked us up from our hotel in his song toew and  off we went to visit a local market.

First, we learned about rice – a staple in the Thai diet. The rice is sorted into the regions of Thailand that it is grown. In the olden days- rice was measured in these metal pails. One pail was enough rice for 2 people for the day. This amounts to just under 1 kilo of rice per day or 1 pound per person per day.

1 Pail = enough rice for the day for 2 people

1 Pail = enough rice for the day

We learned the difference between sticky rice and normal jasmine rice. Sticky rice is on the left – it is very white in color when raw and then turns clear when cooked. Jasmine rice is on the right – it is clear when raw and then turns white when cooked.

Difference between sticky and white rice.

Difference between sticky and white rice.

Next we watched how fresh coconut milk is made. Many of you don’t know my love, fascination, borderline stalking of coconuts. I l.o.v.e. coconuts and anything coconut. By far, Thailand has the BEST coconuts I’ve experienced with the most coconutty flavor. So, to see fresh coconut milk being made was like heaven for me.

Coconut is first grated.  There is so much milk in the meat that you can simply squeeze it out and watch the white bliss run down your hand.

Oh my heavenly white goodness. I nearly licked his hand!

But to get the most out of the coconut meat, it is pressed in this machine. I would have bought one if they had home versions. You think I’m kidding, but you’d be wrong.

Coconut milk machine.

Coconut milk machine.

The coconut is pressed through this machine and out comes coconut milk at the bottom and dry coconut shreds out the side. The dry shreds have no more flavor and are only used to feed livestock and chickens.
The kids were as fascinated as I was!

Watching coconut milk stream. Fascinating to us all!

We had some time to shop around the market. The kids stopped at this stall, where G bought a cap gun that was taken away at the airport.

Cap guns and other plastic stuff.

Cap guns and other plastic stuff.

We perused around and found another favorite in Thailand…ROASTED COCONUTS!

The coconuts are roasted and then painted white (to look pretty), and the juice inside is simply incredible. Sweet, with chocolate undertones.

Roasted coconuts = juice from the gods.

Roasted coconuts = juice from the gods.

I love how beautiful they made the fruit here. All the pineapple eyes are carved out.

Pretty Pineapples.

Pretty Pineapples.

The market was clean and brightly lit and the food was displayed beautifully by every vendor.

Local Market in Thailand

Local Market in Thailand

Our time was up and we were excited to get going to Sammy’s Farm to start cooking.

Back in the Song Teow we go! To Sammy's Farm.

Back in the Song Teow we go! To Sammy’s Farm.

Another reason for choosing Sammy’s Cooking School is that we wanted the kids to come along, but knew that they also needed a bit of space to run around and play. A cooking school in a building or room was not going to be easy on the parents or children. Luckily, Sammy’s has plenty of space and we barely saw or heard the kids all day. At one point I asked “Did we bring the kids?”.

The invasion of the children.

The invasion of the children.

Our first step was to view the garden and get a explanation of all the herbs and ingredients they grow, much of which we used in our cooking that day.

Harvest Rice Fields

Harvest Rice Fields

Sammy asked “Where do peanuts grow?” and none of us could give him a confident answer. On a bush? On a tree? Nope…peanuts are beans/legumes that grow underground.

Peanuts grow underground!

Peanuts grow underground!

We smelled all sorts of different herbs and grasses.

Smelling Lemongrass.

Smelling Lemongrass.

Alisa is amazed at the scent of the Thai Basil.

Thai basil, so fragrant you could taste it by smelling it.

Thai basil, so fragrant you could taste it by smelling it.

Trying more green stuff from the garden.

Trying more green stuff from the garden.

After touring the garden, we got a tour of the bathroom. Yes, a bathroom which Sammy claims is the most beautiful bathroom in Thailand. Open air with a glorious garden in it. We agree, Sammy. It’s gorgeous and fit for a King.

The most beautiful toilet in Thailand. We agree.

The most beautiful toilet in Thailand. We agree.

On to cooking we go!

Sammy’s was set up so professionally. Each one of us got our own work station with everything we needed perfectly portioned out and situated. It was mis en place (a french word for everything in it’s place) used in professional kitchens to keep everything that a cook will use to make the dish organized. This rarely happens for me at home, so it was welcome.

Mis en place...so professional

Mis en place…so professional

We all chose 5 dishes that we wanted to prepare. Sammy and his staff did a great job with pacing and timing everything to run smoothly.

Cooking with friends at it's best.

Cooking with friends at it’s best.

We started with making our curry dishes.  I made the green curry and Mr. King made a yellow curry dish.

Fresh curry ingredients.

Fresh curry ingredients.

Starting with fresh ingredients, already measured for us.

The beginnings of curry.

The beginnings of curry.

We ground the fresh ingredients together with cumin, coriander and pepper seeds to form a thick curry paste. We mashed with our mortal and pestal for quite a while and the fragrance was so intense and intoxicating. We hadn’t even starting cooking yet!

Preparing to mash curry.

Preparing to mash curry.

Every once in a while, the kids would come by and want to help and then they went back to playing with their friends.

G cooking with Daddy.

G cooking with Daddy.

Cooking with my gal, Miss I.

Cooking with my gal, Miss I.

While we prepared 3 of our dishes, the children had their own fun running around the farm…

Keeping busy making sure everything is watered.

Keeping busy making sure everything is watered.

They self-occupied themselves coloring and building.

Coloring and building in paradise.

Coloring and building in paradise.

And enjoyed the hammocks hanging around the property.

Hanging out with traveling pals.

Hanging out with traveling pals.

We cooked, happily.

The guys enjoyed it as much as us gals and the kids.

The guys enjoyed it as much as us gals and the kids.

And then we sat down for lunch!

Be prepared for visuals of

The BEST THAI FOOD in Thailand!

I’m not kidding. Here it goes.

First up: Pad Thai.

Since landing in Thailand my quest to find the perfect Pad Thai has been unsuccessful. How can that be? I’m in the land of Pad Thai! All that has changed now. I, Me, Moi have created and made the BESTEST PAD THAI ever! And it was all so very simple it made me wonder what all the other restaurants and street food vendors are doing wrong. Mine was perfectly season, slightly moist and brimming with the sweet, limey and spicy goodness that belongs in Pad Thai. Look and taste the tamarind juice that is the secret sauce!

I'm calling it: The King's Pad Thai

I’m calling it: The King’s Pad Thai

Next the curries…spicy like we like it (or not, you were fully in control of any chilis you add to your dishes).

Curry, curry, curry. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

Curry, curry, curry. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

Every dish was like having a mouth orgasm over and over and over. Lots of yums, mmmmms, ooooos.

Chicken and Cashews.

Chicken and Cashews.

We ate all the food we prepared, shared it all with our fellow classmates and left the table totally stuffed in the belly and amazed that we prepared so much food with incredible flavor!

Coconut Chicken soup.

Coconut Chicken soup.

We were hoping for a rest. Sammy has been doing this long enough (10 years) that he knows what’s next and provides a perfect place for it.

A digestive rest under shade on some fuzzy hammocks.

A digestive rest under shade on some fuzzy hammocks.

A much needed digestive rest under shade on some fuzzy hammocks. Sammy knows what’s going on! We rested. Notice…the kids are not in this picture (except for Miss I). They were so independent all day long and even allowed us our rest time.

After an ample time, we went back to prepare an appetizer and dessert.

Preparing Som Tom..Green Papaya Salad

Preparing Som Tam..Green Papaya Salad

We ate Som Tam, or Green Papaya Salad, every day in Thailand. It’s wonderfully healthy for you and has the flavors of lime, fish sauce and chili in perfect balance. Plus, I love the crunchy, yet slightly soft, texture of the young papaya.

Another favorite is Mango Sticky Rice. A mixture of coconut cream and palm sugar with sticky rice and a mango on the side. It’s simple and oh-so-heavenly. We got a little creative with our presentation.

Sunshine Mango Sticky Rice

Sunshine Mango Sticky Rice

Our bellies are so full and our smiles so big…but we managed to eat all of it.

Pumpkin custard

Pumpkin custard

It was time for us to go and we noticed a large deep scrape on Miss I’s leg. Sammy’s wife quickly broke a leaf from a plant and put it on the wound. Sammy’s wife was an incredible instructor for the day and a great healer too!

Miss I gets plant treatment

Miss I gets plant treatment

No clean up to do. We received a professionally printed cookbook with all the recipes that everyone prepared that day to take home with us. We found all of our children and posed for a group photo of an amazing day…actually…it was the BEST DAY we had spent in Chiang Mai.

Group photo of our cooking crew!

Group photo of our cooking crew!

We jump back onto Sammy’s Song Teow to be dropped off at home. But before I get on, I use the fanciest toilet in Thailand again.

The nicest toilet in Chiang Mai.

The nicest toilet in Chiang Mai.

Sammy’s Garden inspired us so much that we will be transforming a large part of our yard to an organic sustainable farmette.

You can check out Sammy’s Organic Cooking School and read the Trip Advisor reviews. It’s a day that is well worth your time. And at $30/adult…it was well worth the delicious food we ate and the experience we had.

Sammy’s Organic Cooking School phone number: 081-5709279.

We HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend it. You can’t top it!

That's Sammy's Cooking School...that building in the rice fields.

That’s Sammy’s Cooking School…that building in the rice fields.

More Sammy’s Cooking School adventures here:
Visiting Sammy’s Cooking School
and
Family Friendly Cooking Class in Chiang Mai

7 Responses to “Best Thai Food Ever! Sammy’s Organic Cooking School”

  1. Amy @WorldschoolAdventures December 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Man, you are making my mouth water reminiscing about that day! We are so glad we got to experience it with your family. xo.

    • S King December 27, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      I dream of Sammy’s Class. Best gorge yourself and have fun day in Chiang Mai.

  2. Living Outside of the Box December 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Oh no…that basil photo of me is AWFUL!! Hahahaa… thanks ;-)

    It was a fantastic day. Thanks for being part of the fun!

    • S King December 27, 2012 at 12:37 am #

      It’s beautiful actually. It shows your zest and zeal for life and great, fresh food!

  3. Emily December 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Wow, I am drooling on my keyboard at your beautiful food photographs and eloquent descriptions. Pad Thai is my favorite food in the world, I think, and your version does look perfect! Thank you for sharing this wonderful day with your readers — I almost feel like I was there, except for the rumbling in my tummy!

  4. Mary December 28, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    Looks amaziing!! Definitely doing this next time we are in Chiang Mai!

    • S King December 28, 2012 at 5:58 am #

      We had high expectations and they were EXCEEDED! Hmmm…so you’ll be in CM a next time…?

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