Cooking Class and Tour 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.

How to Make Tom Yum Soup with Chicken (Easy Thai Recipe)

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Today we’d like to share a simple and delicious recipe with all of our supporters. If you watch the video below you catch our students making a big pot of the spicy, satisfying tom yum soup with chicken. Then continue to read below for all the details on how to make this recipe at home. We’ve even included a few frequently asked questions at the bottom, to be sure you’re confident when cooking this homestyle soup for your friends and family.

Remember you can donate to support our efforts to educate and train more at risk youth.

Tom Yum Recipe Video:

Chicken Tom Yum Recipe (Tom Yum Gai)

This recipe serves 1-2 people, but if you have all your aromatics on hand, it’s easy to make a much larger pot like the one seen in recipe video above. Preparation time is typically 15-20 minutes, while your cooking time can be as quick as 10 minutes.

Primary Aromatics:
3-4 Kaffir Lime Leaves
5-6 Galangal Large Slices
1 Lemongrass Stalk

Seasoning:
2-3 Tbsp of fish sauce
Juice from 1 lime
2-3 Tsp of palm sugar
1-2 Tbsp of Thai chili jam

Other Ingredients:
500ml of Water
4-6 Oyster Mushrooms
2-3 Bird’s eye chili
1/2 Beef tomato quartered
1/4 of a roughly chopped white onion
100g of sliced chicken breast
5-6 Cilantro leaves for garnish

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Preparation:

1. Prepare your aromatics. Smack your kaffir lime and tear it, being carful not to remove the leaves from the stem. Pound your lemongrass stalk and tie it in a knot. Cut your galangal root into large slices. For the best final result you want to keep these aromatics large and easily visible (avoid chopping small), because although they are used for their aroma and flavor, they are not typically consumed with the rest of the soup.

2. Roughly chop 2-3 chilies for an average level of spicy. You can chop the chili more finely or add more if you prefer your soup extra spicy.

3. Cut your lime in sections by moving your knife around the core. This will help you remove the seeds more easily. You can also tilt your knife down into a bowl and use the blunt side of your knife for squeezing the lime without making it too messy.

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Cooking Instructions:

1. Bring your water to a boil in small pot and immediately add your aromatics. Cook a few minutes until fragrant.
2. Add your chicken breast and after it cooks, your onion, tomato, chili, and mushrooms.
3. Let the soup lightly boil uncovered as the vegetables soften, while adding your fish sauce, chili jam, and palm sugar.
4. Taste your soup for saltiness and sweetness.
5. If you are satisfied, remove from heat and add lime juice (remember adding lime too soon can cause the juice to become bitter).
6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves.
7. Remember you can remove the hard to eat aromatics (galangal slices, lemongrass, and kaffir leaves) before serving or remind guests not to eat them.

Frequently Asked Tom Yum Recipe Questions:

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1. Why don’t you add coconut milk to your tom yum soup?

CK: Tom yum has a sibling soup called ‘tom kha’ which is made with coconut milk. The creamy coconut milk is a good match for the spice and a better menu option for people sensitive to the heat from Thai chilies. The confusion comes because some restaurants do a version of tom yum called ‘nam khon’ where they top the soup of with evaporated milk. This is especially common in Bangkok and at wester restaurants abroad. The milk adds a creaminess to the soup without changing the flavor like the coconut milk can, however, many people mistake this for coconut milk.

2. Can I use other mushrooms or forego the chicken altogether?

CK: If you would prefer to make a vegetarian version of this dish you can! The meaty, buttery mushrooms work best. For example, we often mix oyster mushroom with straw, shimeji, and even the small stringy enoki mushrooms. In general most mushrooms will work, however, you may want to limit your portion if you’re using really bulky mushrooms, such as portobello. To completely make this recipe vegetarian you should substitute white salt for fish sauce, and buy or make a vegetarian chili jam.

3. What is the Thai chili jam (nam prik pow) used in the recipe?

CK: An essential ingredient in tom yum, Thai chili jam is not an ingredient many people are familiar with using. The jam is typically made by reducing dried chili with fish sauce, palm sugar, and shallots. A litany of other ingredients are added in homemade recipes and they tend to be more intensely spicy, and less sweet than the ones commonly sold in Asian supermarkets. We often make our own veg and vegan versions for our cooking class guests with special dietary needs.

We’re Bangkok’s First Social Impact Experience on Airbnb!

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The travel company Airbnb recently launched a new program called ‘Airbnb Experiences‘ which allows guests in cities around the world to find unique activities. We’re proud to announce that not only is Bangkok one of the initial launch cities, but Courageous Kitchen is now a featured experience on their website and travel app!

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We initially launched our cooking class about 8 months ago and since then we’ve hosted nearly 100 curious guests for market walks and Thai cooking tips. The feedback each of you has given has helped us develop the experience, and we hope the Airbnb platform will offer us a chance to give our classes more regularly.

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Furthermore, Airbnb often highlights experiences offered by registered nonprofits. There will be a special ribbon icon to make each organization recognizable, and Airbnb will not take any commission fees. This means your entire booking will go directly toward helping us! The funds the classes generate are important for building a more sustainable charity, which we hope will be serving up fun and nutrition to people for many years to come.

Let your fellow travelers know to look for us on Airbnb and that taking a Thai cooking class will help us bolster our mission to feed and educate more people in need!