I’ve walked past Chaophraya dozens of times and always been intrigued by this Thai restaurant. Yet I’ve never actually eaten here despite it’s great reputation, handy location (in the Bullring) and tempting menu. And after attending a Thai cooking class there on Tuesday night, I’m questioning why I hadn’t as I loved it!
When we arrived were greeted by our lovely teachers for the night – Chef Dew and Em– who guided us through how to cook a three course Thai meal in a hands on, interactive and enjoyable cooking class. I was joined by Ellie from Visit Birmingham and two lovely couples, with us all sharing a love of eating Thai food and eagerness to learn how to cook it ourselves at home – so we were in great company! After popping on our aprons and chefs hats, we teamed up into pairs and got to work at our own cooking stations, preparing and making everything from start to finish. I thought the layout was great for the class too as it allowed us to all interact and share the learning experience.
We started off by making Chicken Spring Rolls. I always thought that spring rolls were really hard to make, but they actually proved to be easier than I first thought! After making a tasty filling from chicken mince, vegetables, soy sauce and oyster sauce, we learnt how to roll them up in the super thin pastry. Chef Dew took this opportunity to circle the room and watch each of us roll one, offering tips and guidance on how we could improve, so by the end we all felt confident with our technique and happy with our attempts.
I’m also no longer scared of frying stuff in a big pot of hot oil after being shown how easy it actually is, especially with the top tip from Chef of dropping some water in to check if it’s hot enough! So watch this space for some more spring roll making action coming soon…
The result was a crispy, crunchy, golden casing, with plenty of flavoursome filling inside. Dipping them into sweet chilli sauce just completed it for me, and I ate my way through 3 before having to restrain myself from finishing the whole plate off as we still had two courses to cook and eat! But luckily they had plenty of takeaway boxes on hand so I could take the other 2 home to enjoy the next day.
For our main course, a classic Thai curry with Beef Panang. And for the non-meat eaters they were more than happy to switch the beef for some rather tasty looking sea bass fillets instead. We started by making our own curry paste from scratch using a pestle and mortar. A slightly tiring (lots of grinding and elbow grease was needed!) but very rewarding process, with the fragrant spices coming to life and filling the room with the most fantastic aromas.
The curry was spicy, but not overwhelming or ‘blow your head off’-hot, and instead had a nice, delicious heat to it. The sauce was creamy, fragrant and beautifully spiced, and generously coated the tender beef and crunchy green beans. As if it couldn’t get any better, I had some leftover which I thoroughly enjoyed for lunch the next day, and we were given some extra curry paste (which stays fresh for a month!) so I can make it again at home too!
We were all pretty full by this point, but the promise of Thai Coconut Pancakes drew us back to our cooking stations ready to make dessert. I discovered that I’m really not the world’s best pancake maker, but by the last few I’d managed to get the hang of it with the guidance of Chef Dew and Em. The pancakes were so tasty and moreish, and reminded me a bit of one of my favourite treats – coconut macaroons! Plus we had plenty to take home and feast on the next day too.
I had a fantastic night at Chaophraya’s Thai cooking class, and it was a really relaxed, enjoyable way to spend an evening. All of the food tasted delicious and the room was filled with the most wonderful, fragrant aromas all night. Our teachers for the night were so lovely and helpful, splitting their time equally between each pair so everyone got some 1-1 time, handy tips, and guidance on how to improve our cooking techniques.
I thought it was great value for money too at only £60 per person for the amount of food and class time we got (3 and a half hours). Plus we all had plenty of leftovers and a goody bag to take home, so you definitely get your money’s worth!
Chaophraya’s Thai cooking classes now take place once a month and always include cooking and eating a 3 course menu. I think it’d make a perfect birthday, anniversary or Christmas present to get someone! So to find out more, contact Lynsey Miller on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: I was invited to review the Thai cooking class at Chaophraya, and my place was complimentary. However, I wasn’t requried to write a blog post and all opinions expressed are honest and my own