Kicking off Giving Season with a Special Thai Cooking Class!

Kicking off Giving Season with a Special Thai Cooking Class!

Giving season is upon us, and just a day after Thanksgiving we were happy to host our first class in partnership with Holland America. 

Our inaugural Thai cooking class with Holland America saw guests getting hands on in the Courageous Kitchen. 

This past Friday, we hosted our first guests from Holland America Cruise Lines. The company offers trips all over the world, and on their Asian itineraries often visit Thailand, docking at the nearby Laem Chabang port. Once here, guests have all sorts of options for day trips to explore Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. Recently, Holland America has connected with Courageous Kitchen to offer guests a chance to experience a Thai cooking class, while simultaneously giving back to people in need. 

The idea to bring travelers to the class began after staff in the company read an interview of Courageous Kitchen founder, Dwight, on Food & Wine. In the interview Dwight talks both about his favorite places to eat in Bangkok, and his charitable work to help the urban poor. 

The first group to visit was made of Americans and Canadians, all friendly and eager to hear more about the work of the charity. While we got to know each other, they learned to make four Thai dishes, including our famous pad Thai recipe and the delicious, but lesser known wing bean salad. 

The day’s menu included the lesser well known Thai wing bean salad. The fresh green wing bean sprinkled with fiery red chili, resembled a Christmas tree.
On top of the regular cost of the class, Holland America included a donation to our charity for each guest attending.

Since Courageous Kitchen began offering Thai cooking classes and street food tours in 2017, we have hosted more than 600 guests. While we still have more growing to do, we’re pausing this week to express our gratitude to our past guests in helping us improve the lives of those in need. Of course a special thanks goes to Holland America for seeking to connect with more sustainable tour operators, and for kicking off the giving season by sending us a great group of guests! 

Author: Dwight

Dwight is the director of Courageous Kitchen, and loves sharing his passion for food with new people.

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5 Stunning Thai Dishes to Request in Our Bangkok Cooking Class!

5 Stunning Thai Dishes to Request in Our Bangkok Cooking Class!

The hallmark of our cooking class is that when you attend one of our small morning classes in Bangkok (with usually no more than 6 people), you will have an opportunity to request dishes you love. After you book your class, we’ll email you with a few options to help narrow down the style of Thai cooking you would most prefer. Then we meet you in Bangkok, take you to the local market for a fun wander around, and finally back to our home to teach you the dishes you’ve requested.

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We do often have guests who may be new to Thai food, or need some inspiration to help you decide what to request. Although we’re happy to pick for you (just let us know what allergies you have and your preferred spice level), we though we’d share photos from recent classes where guests have been really please with both the taste and presentation of our Thai dishes. So here’s a few dishes for you to feast your eyes on from our classes, enjoy and we hope to be cooking them with more of you in 2018!

  1. Pineapple Curry Fried Rice with Seafood

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A few months back we published a spicy red curry with pineapple recipe, after making it as a special request for guests! If you enjoy red curry, you’ll love the fried rice version which isn’t too difficult to make. Our version of red curry fried rice gains sourness and punchiness from the fresh pineapple, but in our cooking class in Bangkok, you will serve it in the pineapple you’ve carved out yourself. We can’t think of a better serving bowl to represent this tropical, full flavored, and hearty fried rice!

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2. Egg Wrapped Pad Thai Noodle with Homemade Tamarind Sauce

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In the West, Thailand’s most famous dish is undoubtedly stir fried pad thai noodles. While it’s a starter Thai dish to many, often guests have more fun cooking a cuisine when they have a familiar dish like pad thai on the menu. So to keep this interesting for everyone, you’ll notice that in the Courageous Kitchen classes we put a local spin on the version of pad thai we make. While we can make the more typical presentation, where your egg is fried in the noodles, we love to teach guests to enshrine their pad thai in a fresh egg wrapper. This isn’t only super tasty, it’s more eye catching too! When you serve it, we’re sure your friends and family will wonder what deliciousness hides in this well garnished egg package.

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3. Stir Fried and Drunken Pad Kee Mow Noodles

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This dish isn’t for everyone, but has been popular with visiting spice lovers. While many people complain the food in Thailand is too spicy, there are still folks arriving who want all the chili filled food they can handle during their stay in Thailand. So if you’re a chili enthusiast, or love someone who is— then you’ve got to make them a smoking hot plate of pad kee mow. While the name of the dish sounds foreign, you may literally translate it as “a drunk’s noodles”, or more commonly, “drunken noodles.” Why is this dish well loved by Thailand’s hedonists? Because the mix of hot chilis with numbing spice from the handfuls of finger-root and fresh peppercorn are intense enough to bring you back to life after a big night out!

4. Shrimp Filled Tom Yum Goong Soup

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While pad thai reigns in the West, in Asia Thailand’s most famous culinary export is tom yum soup. The dish has headlined in famous movies domestically and internationally, and generous portions of seafood included in the soup make it hard to overlook! So seafood lovers get those spoons ready and prepare to tilt a bowl of easy to make tom yum soup up, to get all the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and galangal flavors from the broth. If you’re curious about how we teach this dish to students in our project, and visiting tourists, check out our recent video recipe for tom yum with chicken.

5. Sticky Rice Bua Loy Dumplings in Warm, Fragrant Coconut Milk

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Finally, here’s a dish for your sweet-tooth that is more than capable of cooling you off after eating too much spice. To make this traditional dessert, we spend some time together first squeezing and kneading the dough together. In seperate batches we’ll add an all natural food coloring such as pandan leaf (green), pumpkin (orange), or butterfly pea (blue), to give a vibrant color to the dough. Finally, before boiling the dumplings we do the painstaking work of rolling them in to pea sized balls, which is more difficult than it looks or sounds. Making this dish is especially popular in our new evening cooking class in Bangkok. This new class is aimed at families who prefer to make recipes that their kids can get involved with too!

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We hope these photos and descriptions give you an idea of what we’re up to in our cooking class in Bangkok! Our class is officially a year old and we’ve had so much fun teaching you these dishes and learning from your feedback. All of our students are provided a digital cook book after the class, so we hope you can make our most popular recipes at home. Every cooking class is unique though, so we’re also hoping to create a larger cook book to share with everyone later in the year.

Thank you for following and supporting Courageous Kitchen this past year, happy eating!

Note: Are you may know, we are a nonprofit project and not a cooking school. While we try to honor all requests made for our class, the guests who book in advance have the best chance of cooking dishes they want to make!

A Cooking Class in Bangkok’s Largest Flower Market!

A Cooking Class in Bangkok’s Largest Flower Market!

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This past weekend we had a very special activity for our junior chefs, our Courageous kids aged 11-14. This is a special age group because they have been watching their older brothers and sisters in the kitchen for several years now and helping in small ways. In 2018 however, we’re pivoting to focus on this age group more, and really working on building their skills and confidence.

This past weekend we jumped into Thailand’s most famous flower market, the Pak Khlong Market. In the Yodpiman building there, we met friends at a company called Expique who run several different types of cooking classes known as The Market Experience. The fun Thai food they create is not unlike what we cook in a typical Saturday in the Courageous Kitchen, but by pulling these students away, we gave them an opportunity to shine without pressure from their older brothers and sisters. In addition to this freedom, they also had a chance to explore the market, learning about it’s rich history and of course, having a plenty of small treats along the way.

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After the students toured the market, the washed up and got ready to get their hands messy in the kitchen. The Expique staff was great with the students, watching carefully as they used adult sized knives, and helping the group prepare their ingredients for three dishes with precision. The excitement was palatable as the students rushed to answer the questions from our hosts, and experienced some new methods of preparing their minced pork larb, green curry with chicken, and shrimp pad thai.

At the end of the class, the students were beyond thankful for the opportunity. They went around the room (not without some prodding), sharing what they enjoyed about they class and expressing their gratitude to Simon, Alyssa, and the whole team of Thai teachers.

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The day was a special one as the group was not without it’s kids who have persisted through extraordinary challenges in their lives. One young boy with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in his knee had so much fun, he didn’t notice how long he had been standing. Another girl, who’s family had spent time in immigration, loved the outing and voted with a few of her friends to go swimming during the next school holiday. These are just a few stories of triumph over adversity the kids in the group, and seeing how far they’ve come, made us anxious to see what mountains they will move next!

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Please enjoy the photos, you can find more on our Courageous Kitchen facebook page. If you haven’t considered sponsoring a student or family, we’d love to have your support in 2018. Please visit our donation page and join our small but awesome list of supporters!

All photos courtesy of Alisa Suwanrumpha.

Special Group Cooking Class for 30 Deakin University Students!

Check out the photos from a recent class where Courageous Kitchen welcomed our largest group yet!

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We were contacted by the Deakin University faculty for the Food and Nutrition Sciences Department. The teachers were organizing a study tour to Thailand and looking for a special cooking class for thirty people. Although we don’t normally host large cooking classes, the group was really open to learning more about the community we’re supporting.

So instead of our usual cooking class setting the Deakin students arrived in the community we’re helping in Bangkok, ready to get messy cooking with our students. We divided the young adults from Australia into 5 groups, pairing each of them with one or two youth from the community. The youth led each group in making several recipes such a tom kha soup, pad thai with shrimp, and even a handmade sticky rice dumpling dessert!

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Big thanks to the Deakin University students and faculty for being so willing and flexible for our first large group cooking class. Not only was this a great experience for our community, but the faculty from the university committed early to helping us buy better equipment for our ongoing classes. We’re more than grateful and hope to welcome more groups for similar experiences in the future!

Quick and Painless Pad Thai Recipe

Quick and Painless Pad Thai Recipe

Pad Thai is Thailand’s most recognizable dish and one of our most popular cooking requests! Below you can find a version adapted to allow you to recreate this delicious recipe at home. You can catch us cooking pad thai in our cooking class in Bangkok, but we mastered it teaching our Courageous Kitchen students. In the video you’ll see them in action, working in teams to prepare the dish after we’ve demonstrated it. Each week they learn a fun Thai recipe or international dish thanks to your support!

Watch the children we help learn to make this classic Thai dish:

Pad Thai Recipe สูตรผัดไท

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. dry or fresh rice noodles, at least ¼ inch in thickness
  • 4 Tbsp. peanut or rice bran oil for frying
  • 8 oz. pack of extra firm tofu cubed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 1 bundle fresh scallions or garlic chives chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp fresh minced garlic

Pad Thai Sauce Recipe:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup diced shallots
  • ¾  cup fresh tamarind pulp
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3-4 Tbsp. palm sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • pinch of white pepper and dried chili flakes to taste
  • pinch of paprika for color
  • Optional Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. protein of choice
  • ⅓ cup small dried shrimp
  • 3 limes cut into wedges
  • Crushed unsalted peanuts
  • Dried red chili flakes
  • Extra bean sprouts, garlic chives, banana blossom for garnish

Preparation:

Fully submerge and soak dry noodles in cold water for 20 minutes. If using fresh noodles, soak for 10 minutes. Once noodles are al dente, strain and set aside. If soaked too long, noodles will become gummy to the touch. Prep additional ingredients mise en place*.

Pad Thai is traditionally cooked very quickly over high heat, so laying out all ready ingredients is essential for a quality dish.

*Mise en place is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up, i.e. wash and chop all ingredients prior to cooking.

Directions:

Heat large wok on high. Add 1 tbsp oil, shallots, meat, dried shrimp and 2 oz. tofu. Cook for approximately 3 minutes until browned and protein is cooked all the way through, remove meat and set aside. Add in ½ tbsp garlic, 4oz. noodles, 1 cup sauce stirring vigorously until noodles soften. You can add in a little bit of water to help soften. Throw in ½ cup bean sprouts, pinch of garlic chives, and mix thoroughly.

Push your noodles over to one side of the wok, leaving one side clear and crack 1 egg directly into opening, scramble and cook to 80% — do not fold in. Turn down heat to low. Fold noodles over and set directly on top of egg, about 30 seconds to finish cooking. Remove from heat. Plate noodles, add extra chives, peanuts, chili flakes and lime wedges on top for garnish.

Eat and enjoy! Remember your donations help us to keep sharing recipes and training more students for courageous cooking! Special thanks to Christy Innouvong for writing this recipe, and Dew Napattaloong for creating the recipe video. 

How much pad thai should I make at once?

Pad Thai is a one plate dish and meant to be made in single portions. This recipe includes enough ingredients for four servings. However, directions are written for single batch only. Use remaining ingredients to make additional batches if desired, sauce can be refrigerated up to one week.

Can I cook my pad thai in advance and eat it later?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the best idea because the noodles will become gummy. We recommend prepping all the pad thai ingredients and sauce in advance. This will make it easier when you begin to stir fry. After you stir fry your noodles, you should eat it immediately for the best result. If the noodles have a chance to cool, they will begin to clump together. 

How different is pad thai in Thailand versus elsewhere?

We find that many versions of pad thai (including some in Thailand) are overly sweet. This is likely due to varying ways to make the pad thai sauce. The sauce should balance the sourness and sweetness, and be tangy when you eat the noodles. If your noodles are too sweet, this flavor will dominate your experience of the dish, and the medley of flavors from ingredients such as the dried shrimp and radish will be muted. We’re aware some people may prefer this, but we want to give you a Thai perspective on how pad Thai should really taste!

Is pad thai Thailand’s national dish?

No. Pad Thai is Thailand’s most well known dish. You may argue that the dish is more popular in western countries than it is in Thailand. This makes finding a tasty, authentic version difficult to find in Bangkok. We recommend hunting down a restaurant that specializes in these noodles, or you can always learn to make this recipe in our Courageous Kitchen cooking class

Can I add meat to this recipe?

Yes, pad thai is most commonly made with chicken or shrimp. You can add 50-100 grams of meat per serving. However if you decide to add shrimp, we recommend you saute the shrimp first.

Unlike the chicken, the shrimp is easy to overcook and may begin to come apart as you vigorously stir your noodles together. Instead, we recommend you shallow fry them first in a few teaspoons of oil. When the shrimp is cooked, set aside. Then keep your now shrimp flavored oil for your batch of pad thai!

What other versions of pad thai should I try?

We love the egg wrapped version of pad thai. This is created by making a thin omelette style wrapper and adding your cooked noodles inside. This can be a lot of work when you’re hungry, but if you’ve got extra time and hands in the kitchen, it is delicious and looks beautiful as well. 

In addition to egg wrapped pad thai, there is a version of pad thai cooked in Thailand’s eastern coastal provinces that diverges away from the common versions most people know. In places like Pattaya, Chonburi, Chantaburi, and Rayong you can find pad thai cooked with chunks of crab meat! These coastal regions also prefer a very oily sweet sauce, made by using the oil from the head of the shrimp. They will also use ‘sen jan’ (ผัดไทเส้นจันท์), which are thinner rice noodles than typically used in better known versions. Although thinner, the noodles hold up better for stir frying and are used in other recipes in this region as well. 

Sponsor Lessons for Courageous Kitchen Students!

Each week Courageous Kitchen provides fun, education instruction to at risk students. This instruction includes English language learning, cooking classes, and special outings. You can donate any amount, but if you’re unsure here are some suggestions: $1 = sponsor one plate $30 = sponsor a meal for an entire class $100 = sponsor a full day of instruction $400+ = sponsor a month or more of Courageous learning Each gift given on the form below will help us reach our goal to fund classes for an entire year!
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