It was mid-morning on Koh Phi Phi’s Pum Cooking School and Restaurant. After marinating the chicken morsels in the paste I had prepared earlier, I tossed them in the steaming hot oil that was sizzling in a giant wok. Nui the teacher handed me an aluminium spoon with a flat end: with that I was supposed to squeeze and turn the meat until crispy on both sides and ready to be dipped in the peanuts sauce. The utensil was heavier than I expected and the way it had to be handled made it hard to control. After a few strikes, some of the chicken jumped out of the pan, flying up in the air before landing on the floor nearby. This caused a stir in the kitchen: Bunny, Nui and the rest of the team burst in laughter and my co-student Hans Peter from Norway could not help it and took a picture of embarrassed me…
That morning-cooking-madness had started when, bored in Koh Phi Phi with the usual daily routine of appointments to go to, articles to write and phone calls to answer, I decided that learning to cook some Thai dishes would appeal to my tired brain. For that purpose I had chosen Pum Cooking School and Restaurant after reading a few positive reviews on the internet about them.
I was met by Khun Nui, the smiley teacher, who explained the program to us: after choosing from one of Pum’s cookery books the dishes we wanted to cook, we would go through some of the ingredients and start putting them together. Nui wore the school’s orange t-shirt, a black bandanna and an apron. We were geared up as well and it was time for the class.
Thai food, by its very nature, is fresh and quick, at times very complex, at times very simple. One of its characteristics is that it always combines a particular balance of flavours. Helpful Nui spent the first 30 minutes explaining in good English a variety of sauces, spices and different herbs used in Thai cooking. A ceramic tray filled with colourful pastes was brought to the table along with bottles of different oils and fish sauces and coconut creams, herbs and spices, all essential ingredients of Thai cuisine. Nui went through every one of them, patiently making us taste them, telling us the role of every ingredient in Thai dishes. It was both learning and a lot of fun too.
Apart from Chicken Satay, I got to learn to cook a classic: Tom Ga Gai, chicken in coconut soup. We pounded the ingredients into a mortar and followed Nui’s instructions, turning meat and veggies into an edible dish in a matter of 10 minutes, and with a proper Thai taste! Of course, a class this small gave both of us lots of personal attention. We eventually enjoyed a taste of our dish, which was promising to say the least. Unfortunately for him, enthusiastic Hans Peter is a vegetarian so he did not get to taste his soup, though I did, to discover it was much spicier than mine! Friendly Bunny served us rice – at least we did not have to cook that.
“Our dishes are based on traditional Thai cuisine adapted for a modern, fast paced world” explained Nui. “Quick, simple and always delicious, you can enjoy these dishes at any occasion”. Peter Hans and I both found the class very hands on; Nui and the mob turned out to be a fantastic, excellent team. I cooked a small 2 dishes course and I left wishing I had done the full class with shopping at the market included. Considering I hadn’t cooked for a while, Pum’s cooking class did me good. Hans Peter confessed he would be cooking Thai dishes for his family of four once back home, and with an orange smile in his face. As for me…
Pum Cooking School
Pum’s range of classes suits each individual’s budget; they offer both morning and afternoon sessions for early-birds and late-risers alike. Pum and her team have been running cooking classes on beautiful Phi Phi Island for a number of years and have taught students from all over the world. Pum and the team will teach the essential and practical side of Thai food to enable you to cook delicious dishes when you return home, and for brilliant memories of this wonderful land. Classes to suit everyone from single dishes to Grand Chef courses!
125/40 Moo7, Phi Phi Don
Tel. +66 (0) 81 521 8904