Chaopraya, a river in Thailand formed by the confluence of the Nan and Ping Rivers; flows southward past Bangkok and empties in the Gulf of Thailand. Also and most commonly known as the fine dining Thai restaurant.
As a huge lover of Thai food, I’m always on the hunt to find the next-best restaurant. It’s a hard cuisine to master, so anywhere that knows how to do it properly is worth my time. We were kindly invited to attend one of the Chaophraya cooking schools in their Leeds establishment, which was something we were super excited to take part in.
These interactive classes include an introduction to Thai cuisine and cooking demonstrations, giving people the opportunity to explore the art of Thai cooking whilst learning some of the secrets of the cuisine from the masters themselves! Throughout the class we were learning the importance of good preparation skills and a knowledge of how to combine different ingredients, all things that we were able to take home with us.
The day started with some welcome punch, whilst we waited for all the attendees to arrive. The restaurant itself was highly decorated with sleek interiors, which helped reflect the fine-dining element of the establishment. Being immersed in this environment got us excited for the hours ahead. We were then told to pair up with another pair and get going.
After a short introduction to the day and our Chef, Poom (don’t forget the m!), we we’re ready to get our hands dirty – and quite literally… We started with some classic Thai Fish Cakes. I’ve never been a fan of fish, so took a backstop for this part of the course to take photos and observe the process.
Chaophraya were amazing and provided a Sweetcorn Fritter alternative to the Fish Cakes for me. These weren’t made by myself but the kitchen and were INCREDIBLE. I’m ready to go back for more.
10 fresh red chillis
1 tsp salt
1 tsp shrimp paste
4 kaffir lime leaves
Sweet Chilli Sauce Recipe:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
2 cup sugar
1/2 spoon salt
Add chilli and garlic to taste
Boil until thick, then leave until cold before enjoying
500g boneless fish – minced
1 tbsp finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped long green beans
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp red curry paste (previous ingredients)
Cooking Oil (half a sauce pan)
- Using a pestle and mortar, crush and mix together your curry paste ingredients until it forms a thick red paste.
- Mix the fish, red curry paste and eggs into a bowl thoroughly until the mixture becomes sticky.
- Add the fish sauce, green beans, lime leaves and mix in well.
- Heat a saucepan on medium heat, half full with cooking oil.
- Gently roll the mixture by hand into balls and flatten into a cookie shape.
- Drop the fishcakes into the oil and leave to cook. When they’re cooked, the fish cakes will float to the surface.
- Serve with Sweet Chilli sauce and cucumber relish.
Next up was the Chicken Pad Thai. Hollie had been hoping we would make this as it’s an all-time favourite of hers. After each course in the cooking class, we had a tasting session where we had the chance to try the food we had cooked. Lucky for her, we were in a group with two other lovely ladies, who helped us cook up a storm. You can imagine the sheer joy on our faces when we finally sat down to eat our homemade Pad Thai.
250g sliced chicken breast
90g rice noodles
50g bean sprouts
2 tbsp chopped green/spring onion
6 tbsp fish sauce
3 tsp tamarind sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp preserved turmeric
1 tsp red chilli
2 tbsp crushed peanuts
- Soak the rice noodles for 30 minutes in room temperature water.
- Heat and season the wok. Add chicken and stir fry for a few minutes.
- Add egg and stir fry. Before the egg is fully cooked, add the noodles, sugar and turnip. Stir fry until all ingredients are mixed well and noodles are wilted.
- Add the tamarind and season with fish sauce. Then add bean sprouts, green onions and the red chilli. Stir fry quickly to ensure everything is well combined.
- Remove from heat and serve with crushed peanuts and lemon wedge on the side and garnish with coriander.
It was at this point, that we were brought some complimentary prosecco, to celebrate the birthdays in the group. The perfect way to finish off our Pad Thai’s, which we’re amazing if we do say so ourselves. The whole day had slightly run over schedule, so desert was slightly more rushed than we had prepared for.
It was ready to get the Deep Fried Banana going.
3/4 cup of self-raising flour
2 bananas – chopped
1/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1/2 tsp salt
Coconut shavings (optional)
Oil for frying
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine self-raising flour, sugar and salt. Add water and stir until well combined. You’re aiming for a pancake mix consistency.
- Peel the bananas and then cut them up into the relevant amount of sections.
- Add about 1 1/2 inches of oil to a pot and heat to about 160°C. Dip the bananas into the batter and fry for about 5 minutes, until they are a deep brown colour. When done, let them drain on a paper towel to soak up the oil.
- Enjoy! Optional – serve with maple or honey syrup and ice-cream!
Naturally, after dessert, they began to tie things up. It was a pleasure to be a part of this cooking school and we really had an amazing time learning and cooking the Thai cuisine. When leaving, we were given a goodie bag with some gorgeous Thai Singha Beer, our chef aprons and a complimentary glass of fizz on our next visit.
The Chaophraya Cooking Schools are an amazing opportunity for anyone who has an interest in Thai cuisine or cooking in general. The day itself was interactive and fun, making it perfect for a group of friends or a corporate event.