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Thai Noodles – An Amazing Variety

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Many people who have not been to Thailand or who have not taken Kasma Loha-unchit’s cooking classes think that Pad Thai is the best of a small number of Thai noodle dishes. However, just as restaurants here in the U.S. serve a very small percentage of the Thai dishes available in Thailand, so do they short-change the incredible number of noodle dishes found in Thailand. Here we highlight 28, just a fraction of the plethora of Thai noodle dishes available.

Kanom Jeen

Kanom Jeen Nam Ya

Many dishes shown here are nearly impossible to find in U.S. restaurants; the only way to taste them all is to find them in Thailand or take all of Kasma’s Thai cooking classes – Kasma teaches her version of virtually all of them somewhere in her Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced series classes. You’ll sample many on Kasma’s small-group tours to Thailand; often people who have gone on her trips come to take the classes so that they can make the unforgettable foods they ate during the trip. You may find that the same dishes may taste a bit different in Thailand. For instance, the noodles in the picture to the left are traditionally made from a fermented rice noodle that is difficult to find in western countries so the unfermented variety is substituted.

Just as with any Thai dish, any particular noodle dish varies with the cook so you’ll come across different versions as you travel in Thailand or learn to make your own versions from class.

Look at the pictures and be prepared to get hungry!


Please comment at the bottom of the page!! What is your favorite Thai noodle dish? What noodle dishes shown here look the most appetizing? What dishes here that are new to you do you want to try?


Note: All pictures are Copyright by Kasma Loha-unchit & Michael Babcock.

Please do not use without permission.


Click on any picture to see a larger version. There is a slide show of all images at the bottom of the page.

Roast Duck Noodles

Roast Duck Noodles

Boat Noodles

Boat Noodles

To the left we see Roast Duck Noodles from my favorite duck noodle shop in Thong Lo (pronounced “tawng law” – Sukhumvit Soi 55). This dish uses what the Thais call บะหมี่ (ba mee) – egg noodles made with wheat. As with virtually all noodle dishes, they are assembled to order and then served. You’ll need to use the condiment set noodle shops have at the table to add sour, salty, sweet and (for me, at least) ground dried red chillies to add some heat.

The bowl on the right is known in short as “Boat Noodles” – so-called because of the origin, being sold by vendor boats on the canals. When you get ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ (Kway Teow Reua), expect beef noodles in a rich beef broth, usually strengthened with beef blood and organ meats. This version here, from one of Kasma’s advanced cooking classes, includes tripe and tendons. Sometimes in the cities you’ll find a storefront noodle shop with a wooden boat outside to advertise that they make boat noodles. There are even shops where noodles are made to order with the cook sitting in a wooden boat just like he or she used to do on the canals before moving the operation onto dry land. This noodle dish usually uses wide, fresh rice noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเส้นใหญ่ (kway teow sen yai).

Stewed Beef Noodles

Stewed Beef Noodles

Stewed Beef Noodles

Stewed Beef Noodles

These two pictures of Stewed Beef Noodles show you how a noodle dish with the same name can vary from place to place. The bowl on the left is Stewed Beef Noodles had at a small roadside stall in rural Kalasin in northeastern Thailand (Isan) on one of Kasma’s Trip D. It includes beef balls (dumplings) and tendons (in the very center). The bowl on the right has the same name – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อ (Kway Teow Neua) – and is from a Muslim noodle shop in Krabi (in the south) during Kasma’s Trip C. Every place makes noodles just a little bit differently. Check out Kasma’s blog Beef Noodle Soup.

Drunkard's Noodles

Drunkard's Noodles

This is Kasma’s version of what she calls “Drunkard’s Noodles” – Spicy Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Chillies and Holy Basil – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดขี้เมา (Kway Teow Pad Kee Mao). It is sometimes inaccurately called by some as “Drunken Noodles,” which implies the noodles are cooked with alcohol, when they are not; but the words ขี้เมา – kee mao – actually refer to a person who likes to drink or get drunk. It is so called because the noodles are made so spicy-hot that it makes you want to drink lots of beer (or rice whiskey/rum mixed with soda water over ice – popular among Thai men) to quench the heat. It’s a stir-fried dish with the wide, fresh rice noodles (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเส้นใหญ่ – kway teow sen yai). When we cook it at home (I’ll cook it myself when Kasma’s away) we use ground pastured pork from the Berkeley Farmer’s market laden with a good amount of tasty fat. I’ve never found a good enough version of this noodle dish in Thai restaurants in the U.S. I’m always disappointed because invariably the restaurants here use Thai basil – ใบโหระพา (bai horapa) – instead of holy basil – ใบกะเพรา (bai kaprao) and it just doesn’t taste the same. They also never put enough Thai chillies to give the noodles the incendiary heat implied in its name.

Pad Thai Noodles

Pad Thai Noodles

Rad Nah

Rad Nah

On the left is Pad Thai noodles, probably the single “Thai” noodle dish that everyone is familiar with. The name, meaning “stir-fried (pad) in the Thai style (Thai)” indicates that it is not really Thai in origin – see Kasma’s blog on The Origin and Making of Pad Thai.

The dish on the right, ก๋วยเตี๋ยวราดหน้า (Kway Teow Rad Nah) could simply be called “Rice Noodles Topped with a Sauce.” It uses wide, fresh rice noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเส้นใหญ่ (kway teow sen yai) – and in this version, from one of Kasma’s cooking classes, the sauce includes chicken and Asian broccoli. It is best served piping hot and to taste really good, you’ll need to add some chillies soaked in vinegar (both chillies and vinegar, or at least some of the vinegar)  to enhance the delicate flavors in the sauce. All noodle dishes in Thailand are served with a condiment set so that you can balance the flavors to your liking. See Michael’s blog on Thai Condiment Sets.

Ayuthaya-Style Noodles

Ayuthaya-Style Noodles

Muslim Beef Noodles

Muslim Beef Noodles

There are certain noodle dishes that are particular to a region or place. Kasma teaches the Spicy Ayuthaya-style Chicken Rice Noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวไก่อยุธยา (Kway Teow Gai Ayuthaya) –  in an Advanced cooking class – it is a hot-and-sour dish, made here with a pastured, free-range chicken, and uses daikon radish to add sweetness to the broth, garlic oil to add fragrance and pickled Thai chillies in vinegar to add the hot-and-sour flavors. It can be made either as soup or dry-style.

The Thai Muslim Curry Beef Noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแขก (Kway Teow Kaek) to the right is Kasma’s version of a dish from southern Thailand, where there is a large Muslim population. Rice noodles (in this version) or egg noodles are served in a rich, red curry sauce sprinkled with green onions, fried shallots, cilantro and coarsely ground dried shrimp and peanuts. Yum!

Northern Curry Noodles

Northern Curry Noodles

Northern Curry Noodles

Northern Curry Noodles

Here are two versions of Khao Soi (ข้าวซอย), a northern Thailand curried noodle dish, rich and delicious. To the left we see Chiang Mai-Style Curry Noodles with Chicken and Condiments – ข้าวซอยไก่ (Khao Soi Gai) – from Kasma’s Advanced Set B weekend series. To the right we see the same dish made with beef – ข้าวซอยเนื้อ (Khao Soi Neua) – from a noodle shop in Lampang. Soft, boiled egg noodles are topped with contrasting crispy fried noodles, which add an interesting crunch and texture. It is served with a plate of shallots and pickled vegetables, to be stirred into the noodles as desired, and lime wedges, to be squeezed in to add a sour flavor. It is also accompanied by fried chilli oil (visible in Kasma’s version to the left); the roasted, fried chillies add both heat and an interesting roasted flavor. Just be sure to taste the dish first! In Lampang I invariably forget that the dish is already fairly spicy/hot and after stirring in the chilli oil, it gets very hot indeed! See Kasma’s article on Northern Style Thai Noodles.

Stewed Duck Soup Noodles

Stewed Duck Soup Noodles

Kway Chap

Kway Chap

To the left we see Stewed Duck Soup Noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเป็ดน้ำ (Kway Teow Bed Nam),  a common soup noodle made in small noodle shops run by ethnic Chinese throughout the country. To the right is Kway Chap – ก๋วยจั๊บ – this particular bowl from a Mae Hong Son noodle shop near the morning market that’s run by ethnic Vietnamese Chinese who’ve settled in the area; it is made from flat rectangular or triangular rice noodles that curl into a tube when they are boiled. It is served in a rich pork broth that usually includes innards and congealed pork blood, which you can see in this bowl right in front of the spoon. Both these noodle dishes are Chinese-influenced and are flavored with either star anise or five-spice and often also with Asian cinnamon.

Kanom Jeen

Kanom Jeen Nam Ya

Kanom Jeen, Chicken

Kanom Jeen, Fried Chicken

Here are two versions of the southern-style ขนมจีนน้ำยา (Kanom Jeen Nam Ya) made with fermented rice noodles. ขนมจีน (kanom jeen), a round noodle a bit smaller than spaghetti, is perhaps the only kind of rice noodle in Thailand that is not Chinese in origin; they most likely originated with the Mon ethnic group, whose forbears ruled a large part of mainland Southeast Asia from the 8th to the 11th centuries before the Khmer empire rose to power. The yellow sauce is a fish-based sauce called น้ำยา (nam ya) and  the southern Thai version is shown here. The photo on the left is from Krua Nakhon (now Wang Derm) Restaurant in Nakhon Si Thammarat in southern Thailand; it is served with a large  platter of fresh and pickled vegetables and herbs (seen behind the plate), something that accompanies nearly all spicy meals in the south. The dish on the right is from a shop in a small town south of the city of Krabi, that makes its own fresh noodles from scratch with fermented rice dough as is traditionally done; they also serve a crispy and very delicious fried chicken which goes well with the spicy noodles. (We visit this shop on Kasma’s Trip A & C).

Pad Si-ew

Pad Si-ew

Pad Si-ew

Pad Si-ew

ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดซีอิ๊ว (Kway Teow Pad Si-ew) – Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Soy Sauce –
is another well-known Chinese-influenced Thai stir-fried noodle dish. It means, literally, “stir-fried with soy sauce.” Here are two versions. The picture on the left is taken at a small noodle shop south of Nakhon Si Thammarat, where we stop for a quick lunch on the way to Songkla on our Trip C. The second is taken on Poda Island (เกาะปอดะ – Koh Poda) in Krabi province, where the noodle is one of our breakfasts with a tour group; the noodle already has ground dried red chillies added from the ubiquitous condiment set at the table so that the diner can balance flavors as desired. This dish uses wide, fresh rice noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเส้นใหญ่ (kway teow sen yai).

Mee Krob

Mee Krob

Rice Noodle Soup

Rice Noodle Soup

The Mee Krob (หมี่กรอบ – Glazed Crispy Noodles) to the left is from Kasma’s Intermediate cooking class.. Her version is less sweet than most and has a slight orange flavor from grated orange zest. It uses the thin, dried rice-stick noodles- mei fun in Chinese and sen mee (เส้นหมี่) in Thai. The bowl to the right contains Rice Noodle Soup with Fish Dumplings and Pork – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำลูกชิ้นปลา (Kway Teow Nam Loogchin Pla) – from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. These are two very different noodle dishes!

Hot & Sour Soup Noodles

Hot & Sour Soup Noodles

Hot & Sour Soup Noodles

Hot & Sour Soup Noodles

Here are two pictures of the same Hot-and-Sour (Tom Yum) Soup Noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำต้มยำ (Kway Teow Nam Tom Yum) – made on a boat at Damnoen Saduak floating market. The noodles are spicy/hot and sour, and include pork and shrimp dumplings. The bowl on the left is the bowl as it is served, fresh from the vendor; the bowl on the right is how it looks ready to eat, after the noodles have been stirred in. Skinny fresh rice noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเส้นเล็ก (kway teow sen lek) are used here.

Hot & Sour Noodles

Hot & Sour Dry Noodles

Hot & Sour Dry Noodles

Hot & Sour Dry Noodles

Like many noodles, tom yum (ต้มยำ – hot-and-sour) noodles can be served either as soup noodles (as with the two from Damnoen Saduak above) or dry. Here are two versions of tom yum haeng (ต้มยำแห้ง) – dry-style tom yum noodles. To the left is the Dry Hot-and-Sour Noodles with Fish and Fish Dumplings – เส้นเล็กต้มยำแห้งปลา (Sen Lek Tom Yum Haeng Pla) from a noodle shop in Hang Dong, Chiang Mai. To the right we see Hot-and-Sour Dry Rice Noodles with Pork – เส้นเล็กต้มยำแห้งหมู (Sen Lek Tom Yum Haeng Moo); it is Kasma’s version from her weekend Advanced Class C. Be warned, this noodle is a very spicy/hot dish!

Fish Dumpling Noodles

Fish Dumpling Noodles

Making Noodles

Making Noodles

To the left is another bowl of soup noodles: Rice Noodle Soup with Fish Dumplings – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำลูกชิ้นปลา (Kway Teow Nam Loogchin Pla) – from a popular noodle shop on Sukhumvit Road near Thong Lo (pronounced “Tawng Law” – Sukhumvit Soi 55); Kasma’s small-group trips to Thailand go there for a noodle breakfast.

The picture to the right shows the set-up in Kasma’s advanced set F-4 class to assemble Sukhothai-Style Dry Hot-and-Sour Rice Noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแห้งสุโขทัย (Kway Teow Haeng Sukhothai). All the fixings are laid out and ready to assemble.

Sukhothai Noodles

Sukhothai Noodles

Sukhothai Noodles

Sukhothai Noodles

Two versions of the Sukhothai-Style Dry Hot-and-Sour Rice Noodles – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแห้งสุโขทัย (Kway Teow Haeng Sukhothai) are shown here from different noodle shops in Sukhothai province; every shop makes it just a little bit different. This is a delicious noodle dish – hot, sour and sweet with various goodies (pork cracklings, peanuts and more) to add texture as well as flavor. It has become a favorite noodle dish among many of Kasma’s trip members, easily surpassing Pad Thai as the best-tasting Thai noodle dish they’ve ever had. It’s very important to get just the right balance of flavors. Notice the lump of palm sugar in each bowl: this is something I’ve seen in no other noodle dish (which doesn’t mean there aren’t other dishes that use it). Before eating, everything is tossed together well, dissolving the palm sugar and mixing it in with the lime juice and other seasonings. To see more pictures, check out our Facebook album on Sukhothai noodles.

Drunkard's Noodles

Drunkard's Noodles

Drunkard's Noodles

Drunkard's Noodles

The dish shown in these two pictures uses mung bean sheet noodles, which Thais call “Shanghai noodles” – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเซี่ยงไฮ้ (kway teow Sianghai)) – made from mung bean starch (nowadays also mixed with potato starch) and water. The brittle, dry sheet noodles are soaked to soften, then cut into bite-size rectangles for  cooking. The pictures show Drunkard’s Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sheet Noodles with Shrimp and Cuttlefish – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเซี่ยงไฮ้ผัดขี้เมา (Kway Teow Sianghai Pad Kee Mao). In the left picture it is being stir-fried in the wok during Kasma’s weekend Advanced Set G class; to the right, it is plated and ready to enjoy.

Stewed Duck Noodle Soup

Stewed Duck Noodle Soup

Stewed Duck Soup Noodles

Stewed Duck Soup Noodles

Here are two versions of Stewed Duck Noodle Soup – ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำเป็ดตุ๋น (Kway Teow Nam Bed Doon). The bowl on the left is from Kasma’s weekend Advanced Set B Class. The bowl on the right includes duck blood and is from a noodle shop in the Sukhothai morning market. As before, you can see how dishes with the same name and mostly the same ingredients can vary.

Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad

Tossing Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad

Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad

Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad

Noodles are also used to make dishes that accompany other dishes in a rice-based meal, in this case a yum (ยำ)-style salad – Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad – ยำวุ้นเส้น (Yum Woon Sen). It uses the bean thread noodles (วุ้นเส้น – woon sen), sometimes also called “cellophane” or “glass” noodles. They are made from mung beans though in this case they are extruded into thin threads rather than made into sheets like those used in the dish above. The first picture shows the salad being tossed in Kasma’s weekend Advanced Set H class and the second shows a close-up of the finished dish.

Lahb Woon Sen

Lahb Woon Sen

On the left is another example of a salad made with mung bean thread (วุ้นเส้น – woon sen) noodles. It shows Northeastern-Style Spicy Bean Thread Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice – ลาบวุ้นเส้น (Lahb Woon Sen) – from Kasma’s weekend Advanced Set B class.Like a lot of northeastern Thai salads, it is spicy/hot from lots of ground, roasted dried Thai chillies; ground, toasted rice adds another dimension to this salad.

Kanom Jeen Sao Nam

Kanom Jeen Sao Nam

The picture on the right shows a very different type of kanom jeen (ขนมจีน) noodle dish from the spicy southern Kanom Jeen Nam Ya (ขนมจีนน้ำยา) pictured further above. This dish is Spicy Rice Vermicelli Salad with Pineapple, Ginger and Coconut-Lime Sauce – ขนมจีนซาวน้ำ (Kanom Jeen Sao Nam), which originated in Bangkok to serve at room temperature during the hot months of the year. The version here is from Kasma’s weekend Advanced Set C class.

Mee Kati

Mee Kati

Garlic Noodles

Garlic Noodles

The dish on the left is another noodle dish using coconut cream; it is Rice Vermicelli Cooked in Spiced Coconut Cream Sauce – หมี่กะทิ (Mee Kati) – from
Kasma’s weekend Advanced Set C class. It is served with banana blossom, which, by itself, has a very astringent flavor, but when chewed along with the noodles, the astringency becomes hidden by the richness of the coconut cream. Mee Kati is an excellent complement to the blossom and through some mysterious alchemy the two tastes marvelous together.

And last, but not least, is a dish that Kasma teaches in both her weekend Beginning series. She calls it Garlic Noodles with Barbecued Red Pork (Thai-Style Pasta Salad) – บะหมี่แห้งหมูแดง (Ba Mee Haeng Moo Daeng), and it’s become a favorite among many of her students. It uses บะหมี่ (ba mee) egg noodles made with wheat and has a delightfully mellow garlic flavor. This is a dish that can be served warm, at room temperature, or even cold out of the refrigerator, which make it perfect for potlucks. I made it for a potluck quite soon after I first took Kasma’s beginning series, two decades ago; the people at the party devoured it quickly and it was the first dish to disappear.


I hope that you’ve enjoyed this brief survey of some of the noodle dishes that Thailand has to offer. Hopefully you’ll get a chance soon to sample some of the ones that are new to you – though you may need to travel to Thailand or come here to Oakland, California and take a few classes to do so!


Thai Noodle Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow
or click “Next” for the next slide.

Kanom Jeen
Roast Duck Noodles
Boat Noodles
Stewed Beef Noodles
Stewed Beef Noodles
Drunkard's Noodles
Pad Thai Noodles
Rad Nah
Ayuthaya-Style Noodles
Muslim Beef Noodles
Stewed Duck Soup Noodles
Kway Chap
Northern Curry Noodles
Northern Curry Noodles
Kanom Jeen
Kanom Jeen, Chicken
Pad Si-ew
Pad Si-ew
Mee Krob
Rice Noodle Soup
Hot & Sour Soup Noodles
Hot & Sour Soup Noodles
Hot & Sour Noodles
Hot & Sour Dry Noodles
Fish Dumpling Noodles
Making Noodles
Sukhothai Noodles
Sukhothai Noodles
Drunkard's Noodles
Drunkard's Noodles
Stewed Duck Noodle Soup
Stewed Duck Soup Noodles
Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad
Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad
Lahb Woon Sen
Kanom Jeen Sao Nam
Mee Kati
Garlic Noodles

Southern-Style Rice Vermicelli Topped with Spicy Fish Namya Curry Sauce - ขนมจีนน้ำยา (Kanom Jeen Nam Ya) - from Wang Derm Restaurant in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Egg Noodles Topped with Roast Duck – บะหมี่เป็ดแห้ง (Ba Mee Bed Haeng) - from a noodle shop on Thong Lo (pronounced "Tawng Law" - Sukhumvit Soi 55).

Stewed Beef Soup Noodles with Tripe and Tendons – "Boat Noodles" - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ (Kway Teow Reua) - from Kasma's Weekend Advanced Set C.

Stewed Beef with Tendons and Beef Ball Soup Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อ (Kway Teow Neua) - at a noodle shop near the Sirindhorn Dinasaur Museum in Kalasin, northeastern Thailand (Isan).

Stewed Beef Soup Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อ (Kway Teow Neua) - from a Muslim noodle shop near Ao Nang in Krabi.

Spicy Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Chillies and Holy Basil - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดขี้เมา (Kway Teow Pad Kee Mao) - cooked by Kasma for her own enjoyment! This is my favorite noodle dish. It MUST be made with holy basil (bai kaprao) and it MUST be very, very spicy.

"Thai-style" Stir-fried Noodles - ผัดไท (Pad Thai) - from Kasma's 4th Beginning Evening Class.

Pan-Fried Fresh Rice Noodles Topped with Chicken and Asian Broccoli Sauce - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวราดหน้า (Kway Teow Rad Nah) - from Kasma's Beginning evening Series (class #4).

Spicy Ayuthaya-Style Chicken Rice Noodles (Soup) - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวไก่อยุธยา (Kway Teow Gai Ayuthaya) - Kasma's version from her weekend Advanced Set G class.

Thai Muslim Curry Beef Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแขก (Kway Teow Kaek) - This is from Kasma's weekend Advanced Set D.

Stewed duck Soup Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเป็ดน้ำ (Kway Teow Bed Nam) - from a noodle shop in Udon, northeastern Thailand (Isan).

Kway Chap - ก๋วยจั๊บ - from a restaurant near the morning market in Mae Hong Son.

Chiang Mai-Style Curry Noodles with Chicken and Condiments - ข้าวซอยไก่ (Khao Soi Gai) - from Kasma's Advanced Set B weekend series.

Chiang Mai-Style Curry Noodles with Beef and Condiments - ข้าวซอยเนื้อ (Khao Soi Neua) - from a noodle shop in Lampang. The vegetables on the back plate are stirred into the noodles as desired.

Southern-Style Rice Vermicelli Topped with Spicy Fish Namya Curry Sauce - ขนมจีนน้ำยา (Kanom Jeen Nam Ya) - from Krua Nakhon (now Wang Derm) Restaurant in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Southern-Style Rice Vermicelli Topped with Spicy Fish Namya Curry Sauce - ขนมจีนน้ำยา (Kanom Jeen Nam Ya) - from a shop in Krabi province that makes their own Kanom Jeen rice noodles on the premises and serves it with delicious fried chicken.

Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Soy Sauce - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดซีอิ๊ว (Kway Teow Pad Si-ew ) - from Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Soy Sauce - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดซีอิ๊ว (Kway Teow Pad Si-ew) - from Poda Island (Koh Poda) in Krabi.

Glazed Crispy Noodles - หมี่กรอบ (Mee Krob) - Kasma teaches this in her Intermediate weekend Series; her version is less sweet than most.

Rice Noodle Soup with fish dumplings and pork - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำ (Kway Teow Nam) - from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

Hot-and-Sour (Tom Yum) Soup Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวต้มยำ (Kway Teow Tom Yum) - from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

Hot-and-Sour (Tom Yum) Soup Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวต้มยำ (Kway Teow Tom Yum) - from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

Dry Hot-and-Sour Noodles with Fish and Fish Dumplings - เส้นเล็กต้มยำแห้ง (Sen Lek Tom Yum Haeng) - from a noodle shop in Hang Dong, Chiang Mai.

Hot-and-sour Dry Rice Noodles with Pork - เส้นเล็กต้มยำแห้ง (Sen Lek Tom Yum Haeng). This photograph is from Kasma's Advanced Class C-1.

Rice Noodle Soup with Fish Dumplings - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวลูกชิ้นปลา Kway Teow Look Chin Pla) - from a noodle shop on Sukhumvit Road near Thong Lo (pronounced "Tawng Law" - Sukhumvit Soi 55).

Sukhothai-Style Dry Hot-and-Sour Rice Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแห้งสุโขทัย (Kway Teow Haeng Sukhothai) - students in Kasma's Weeklong Advanced Set D have the fixings for Sukhothai noodles laid out and ready to assemble.

Sukhothai Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแห้งสุโขทัย (Kway Teow Haeng Sukhothai) - from a noodle shop in Si Satchanalai in Sukhothai province.

Sukhothai-Style Dry Hot-and-Sour Rice Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวแห้งสุโขทัย (Kway Teow Haeng Sukhothai) - from a noodle shop in Sukhothai.

Drunkard's Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sheet Noodles with Shrimp and Cuttlefish - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเซี่ยงไฮ้ผัดขี้เมา (Kway Teow Sianghai Pad Kee Mao) - shown in the wok during Kasma's weekend Advanced Set G class.

Drunkard's Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sheet Noodles with Shrimp and Cuttlefish - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเซี่ยงไฮ้ผัดขี้เมา (Kway Teow Sianghai Pad Kee Mao) - the finished dish from Kasma's Advanced Set G weekend class.

Stewed Duck Noodle Soup - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำเป็ดตุ๋น (Kway Teow Nam Bed Doon) - from Kasma's weekend Advanced Set B.

Stewed Duck Soup Noodles - ก๋วยเตี๋ยวน้ำเป็ดตุ๋น (Kway Teow Nam Bed Doon) - with duck blood, from a noodle shop in the Sukhothai morning market.

Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad - ยำวุ้นเส้น (Yum Woon Sen) - being tossed in Kasma's weekend Advanced Set H class.

Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad - ยำวุ้นเส้น (Yum Woon Sen) - from Kasma's weekend Advanced Set H class.

Northeastern-Style Spicy Bean Thread Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice - ลาบวุ้นเส้น (Lahb Woon Sen) - from Kasma's weekend Advanced Set B.

Spicy Rice Vermicelli Salad with Pineapple, Ginger and Coconut-Lime Sauce - ขนมจีนซาวน้ำ (Kanom Jeen Sao Nam) - From Kasma's weekend Advanced Set A.

Rice Vermicelli Cooked in Spiced Coconut Cream Sauce - หมี่กะทิ (Mee Kati) - From Kasma's weekend Advanced Set C.

Garlic Noodles with Barbecued Red Pork (Thai-Style Pasta Salad) - บะหมี่แห้งหมูแดง (Ba Mee Haeng Moo Daeng) - Kasma teaches this dish in her Beginning weekend series.

Kanom Jeen thumbnail
Roast Duck Noodles thumbnail
Boat Noodles thumbnail
Stewed Beef Noodles thumbnail
Stewed Beef Noodles thumbnail
Drunkard's Noodles thumbnail
Pad Thai Noodles thumbnail
Rad Nah thumbnail
Ayuthaya-Style Noodles thumbnail
Muslim Beef Noodles thumbnail
Stewed Duck Soup Noodles thumbnail
Kway Chap thumbnail
Northern Curry Noodles thumbnail
Northern Curry Noodles thumbnail
Kanom Jeen thumbnail
Kanom Jeen, Chicken thumbnail
Pad Si-ew thumbnail
Pad Si-ew thumbnail
Mee Krob thumbnail
Rice Noodle Soup thumbnail
Hot & Sour Soup Noodles thumbnail
Hot & Sour Soup Noodles thumbnail
Hot & Sour Noodles thumbnail
Hot & Sour Dry Noodles thumbnail
Fish Dumpling Noodles thumbnail
Making Noodles thumbnail
Sukhothai Noodles thumbnail
Sukhothai Noodles thumbnail
Drunkard's Noodles thumbnail
Drunkard's Noodles thumbnail
Stewed Duck Noodle Soup thumbnail
Stewed Duck Soup Noodles thumbnail
Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad thumbnail
Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad thumbnail
Lahb Woon Sen thumbnail
Kanom Jeen Sao Nam thumbnail
Mee Kati thumbnail
Garlic Noodles thumbnail

Here’s a site that talks about the various types of Thai noodles:


Written by Michael Babcock (with help from Kasma), August 2012

Beginning Thai Cooking with Kasma, Class #2

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Kasma Loha-unchit teaches a beginning series of 4 Thai cooking classes several times a year. This is my blog on the second of those four classes, exploring how the classes take place and what delicious Thai dishes are served. Kasma has been teaching Thai cooking to U.S. students since 1985.

Kasma Teaching

Kasma goes over recipes

I’ve already blogged about the first class – Beginning Thai Cooking with Kasma, Class #1. The second session has another 4 recipes, picked in part to allow Kasma to introduce more essential Thai ingredients. Like all classes, this one began with Kasma going over the recipes and introducing any new ingredients or techniques in the recipes. This class includes 4 very popular Thai dishes so there is lots to discuss.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Prepping Food

Students prepping ingredients

Students at Work

Cutting banana leaves

For the next part of the session, students are divided into teams to work on the individual recipes. They chop and mince, pluck basil leaves and do all of the prep work for the recipe they are working on. This class also includes Haw Mok, the popular fish curry dish that is served in banana leaf baskets, so Kasma spends some time demonstrating how to cut the banana leaves and then how to fold them into the basket; then each student makes their own basket, to be filled later.

Adding Lard

Adding lard to season a wok

Seasoning Wok

Seasoning a wok

In this second session, Kasma also goes over the process of how to season a wok. Kasma’s preferred woks are round-bottom, spun steel woks of a reasonably heavy gauge; carbon steel woks are an acceptable substitute. She prefers the kind with two metal “ears,” finding that the woks with a single long wooden handle are too unstable. Just as with cast iron, spun steel woks have to be “seasoned” before use. After the machine coating on a new wok is removed, Kasma heats the wok on high heat and then spreads it with lard (the absolute best fat for seasoning a wok), which is baked into the steel and provides a protective covering. Kasma’s classes are filled with practical demonstrations and information of this type.

Student Stir-fries

Student stir-frying vegetables

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat

The last part of the class is taken up with cooking the prepped recipes and (of course!) eating. Kasma’s class are set up so that everyone can watch the final food cooking. The cooking is done sometimes by Kasma and often by students, under her supervision. She often asks for volunteers: if you take a class, don’t be shy! You have the chance to have a master cook show you how to cook delicious Thai food.

Of course, the best part of the class is the feast at the end. Unlike many cooking classes, here you get a full meal, not just a small tasting of each dish.

Beginning Thai Series Class #2 Menu

Hot & Sour Soup

Hot & Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Prawn Soup – ต้มยำกุ้ง (Tom Yum Goong): Hot & Sour Soup (Tom Yum) is one the best known Thai soups. In Thailand you can get a tom yum based soup with many things: from shrimp to crispy-fried fish. Kasma’s version uses shrimp and is just as described – hot (spicy) and sour;  the heat is from chillies and the sour is from lime juice  with lemon grass and galanga providing an herbal background. Delicious!

You can see Kasma’s recipe here: Hot and Sour Prawn Soup – (Tom Yum Goong)

How Mok Pla

Red Curried Fish Mousse

Curried Mousse of Red Snapper in Banana Leaf Cups – ห่อหมกปลา (How Mok Pla): Haw Mok is another quintessential Thai dish, though other countries (such as Cambodia) have their own versions. In some restaurants they have mixed seafood Haw Mok, sometimes served in hollowed-out young coconuts but it is more usual to see this dish steamed in banana-leaf baskets, such as we see here. This is a dish that, in Thailand, you’ll find both in the markets, where people buy them as “take-out,” and in restaurants. Kasma’s version here uses fresh red snapper. As you can see, it’s a dish that presents very well. Another advantage is that you can prepare it in advance and then re-heat it prior to serving. In planning a Thai meal, it’s good to have some dishes like this so you don’t have too many stir-fries right before the meal.

Basil Chicken

Basil Chicken

Spicy Basil Chicken – ผัดกะเพราหไก่ (Pad Kaprao Gai): Anything cooked pad kaprao (stir-fried with holy basil) is another essential Thai dish. In Thailand this dish is often served as a one-dish meal over rice, sometimes with a (crispy) fried egg on top. Kasma’s version uses ground chicken, for convenience: in Thailand, often chicken meat would be cut into very small pieces, nearly the equivalent of ground meat. Personally, I prefer this dish using pork and cooked very, very spicy/hot. The recipe as taught here in class is infinitely variable: you can make it with nearly any meat or seafood.

Kasma’s recipe from this class is available online as Spicy Basil Chicken – Gai Pad Kaprao. For variations on the recipe, see the following two blogs:

Oyster Sauce Broccoli

Oyster Sauce Broccoli

Stir-fried Broccoli with Thai Oyster Sauce – บรอคโคลี่ผัดน้ำมันหอย (Broccoli Pad Nam Man Hoi): I find that Asian cuisines are miles ahead of us when it comes to vegetables. Walking through Asian markets I always see a plethora of fresh greens, previously unknown to me (before meeting Kasma, that is). This recipe is what I think of as The Universal Vegetable Recipe. A deceptively easy dish, the main ingredient is Thai oyster sauce; it can be adapted to virtually any vegetable you desire. In class, Kasma makes it with broccoli; it’s the one way I like broccoli. This recipe also got me enjoying cauliflower for the first time in my life.

Also see Michael’s blog on The Universal Vegetable Recipe.


See Michael’s blogs on the other three classes in this series:


Written by Michael Babcock, August 2012

Basil Pork – Moo Pad Kaprao

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Of all the versions of the Thai dish Pad Kaprao (something stir-fried with Basil), my favorite is Basil Pork – Moo Pad Kaprao. It’s one of the dishes I cook the most for myself (and Kasma) at home. People often think of Thai food as being a lot of work: well, this dish is relatively easy, especially considering how very delicious it is.

Basil Pork

Basil Pork

As mentioned in my blog on Basil Salmon, almost anything can be pad kaprao – stir-fried (pad) with holy basil (kaprao). You can make it with shrimp, chicken, fish, duck, squid – almost anything you can think of.

Ground pork seems to blend particularly well with the ingredients of the dish – the holy basil, fish sauce, garlic, black soy sauce and chillies. Often in Thailand you find this as a one-dish meal basil pork served with a Thai-style fried egg (fried in lots of oil until it’s crispy on the edges) served directly over rice.

Click on photos to see a larger image.

Basil Pork Ingredients

Ingredients for Basil Pork

I first took Kasma’s Beginning Thai Cooking Series in 1992. I had never cooked Thai food before or used a wok. One of the recipes in the second (of 4) classes in the series is Basil Chicken. When Kasma was cooking it and explaining what she was doing, it seemed so very easy. The first time I cooked it for myself at home, though, things sure happened fast! After I had cooked it a half-dozen times or so, it felt just as leisurely and easy a process as Kasma had made it look. (See my article on Learning to Cook Thai.)

The way I cook the dish is a variaton on Kasma’s Spicy Basil Chicken (Gai Pad Kaprao) recipe. Her recipe calls for three ingredients that I leave out: shallots, kaffir lime leaves (optional) and white pepper, though I’ll sometimes put in the pepper.

Stir-frying Garlic & Chillies

Stir-frying garlic & chillies

It’s really very simple to cook:

  1. Heat oil (I prefer lard) in a wok until it smokes.
  2. Add chopped garlic, stir for a few seconds, add in the Thai chillies (in thin rounds)
  3. After a short time, add in the ground pork
  4. When the pork has partially browned, season with black-soy sauce & fish sauce, to taste
  5. When the pork is nearly done, add in the holy basil and cook until wilted

You can check Kasma’s Basil Chicken recipe to get an idea of quantities.

Adding Pork

Then add pork

This is one dish that I like very, very hot. She calls for 12-20 Thai chillies (prik kee noo) in thin rounds for a pound of meat: I’ll add up to 25 so that the dish will sizzle in the mouth. I’ll also add more holy basil leaves – I don’t always measure, I usually add an entire bunch. It’s hard to imagine this dish with too much holy basil.

I suggest you give it a try. For me, it’s one of those dishes that I get to craving and just havo to make. Do serve over rice – they really compliment each other. And do make sure you use holy basil rather than Thai basil – it makes a big difference n this dish.

Holy Basil

Then add holy basil

Basil Pork in Wok

Holy basil is wilted


Check out Kasma’s Thai recipes for more delicious dishes.


Written by Michael Babcock, January 2012.

The Best Thai Food in America?

Michael Babcock, Saturday, October 15th, 2011

A Most Satisfying Meal!

To find the absolute best Thai meal in America I recommend the Advanced Thai cooking classes of Kasma Loha-unchit in Oakland, California. Here, you will find authentic flavors and tastes as well as Thai dishes that you’ll be unable to find elsewhere once you leave Thailand.

Note: This blog chronicles a day in a weeklong Advanced Thai cooking class that Kasma no longer offers.


Recently at one of her classes I had a meal that was very nearly a transcendental experience. Here is my blog on that meal.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Plate of Thai Food

A yummy Thai meal

Why is Thai food so popular? I’ve long thought (and read this echoed elsewhere) that Thai food is so good because it contains all of the four major flavor groupings, salty, sour, sweet and spicy hot, sometimes in one dish. (The bitter taste is also found but is less prevalent.) To eat a well-prepared Thai meal is to light up every taste bud on the tongue and palate. The food is also on the light (as opposed to heavy) side so you walk away from the table with a well-gruntled feeling.

We usually have at least one person taking every class because he or she traveled to Thailand, loved the food there and couldn’t find food to match it here in the States: they come to learn how to make those great flavors themselves. Many students tell us that after taking the classes they can no longer eat in Thai restaurants back home: they are disapponted by meals that emphasize the sweet and the rich, with not enough spicy-hot and or sour flavors.

Kasma's Cooking Class

Students preparing Thai food

Kasma’s food from the first Beginning class (and everyone starts with Beginning) is outstanding; the great food is why our Advanced classes are always waiting list only. It’s in the Advanced classes that you get to really explore the variety and depth of Thai food. It’s particularly in the Advanced classes that you get to experience many of the 95% of Thai dishes that Kasma estimates are never found on Stateside Thai restaurant menus. Kasma has 8 Advanced evening series and 4 weeklong Advanced classes. Once you’ve taken all of the classes Kasma offers, you’ll have well over 200 Thai dishes, many seldom found outside of Thailand.

What is my criteria for a great Thai meal? It’s understood that every taste bud will be lit up and dancing. There has to be a variety of dishes: some spicy, some not, different dishes accenting a different flavor or different type of food. Most of all, that I look for is a quality of amazement and regret: amazement comes from taking that first taste of a dish and being delighted at all of the flavors; and regret from the fact that everything is so good, there’s no way to eat as much of it as you’d like.

I’ve had great meals in many resaturants in Thailand, such as Ruen Mai in Krabi or My Choice in Bangkok. The only place I’ve had a great Thai meal in the U.S. has been at home, often at the end of an Advanced cooking class.

The Meal, Weeklong Advanced Set D, Day 2

I could have gladly made a meal of any single dish in the meal. (In the evening classes there are only 4 or 5 dishes.)


Stir-fried Cha-om

Stir-Fried Cha-om with Bean Thread and Eggs  (Cha-om Pad Woon Sen Kai):  This dish was actually served as an appetizer; it can also easily by served as a one-dish meal. This summer Kasma and I have eaten this dish for lunch once or twice a week. Cha-om is part of the acacia family; in this dish the tender leaves are stripped from the stem and then stir-fried with garlic, bean thread noodles and egg and seasoned with fish sauce and white pepper. It has a unique and alluring flavor and with the noodles and egg is a satisfying treat.

This dish is taught in Kasma’s advanced class G-3.

To find out more about cha-om, see Kasma’s blog Cha-om – A Delicious and Nutritious Tropical Acacia. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can often find it, especially during the summer months, at Sontepheap Market on International Boulevard in Oakland.


Wilted Green Salad

Wilted Greens Salad with Coconut-Lime Chilli Sauce, Fried Chinese Sausage, Crisped Garlic and Crisped Shallots (Yam Dtam Leung): Kasma first tasted this salad at the restaurant Bai Fern in Mae Hong Son. As with many of her recipes, she came up with her own version when she returned home. This salad has to be eaten to be believed – there is so much going on in the dish. Although Kasma has tried making it with spinach leaves, to experience it at its best you must have dtam leung greens. In the notes to her recipe for the class, Kasma says: “Dtam leung is a vine that grows readily during the rainy season throughout tropical Southeast Asia. Since its leaves look like ivy and the mature vines bear small gourd-like fruits, its common English name is ‘ivy gourd.'” In this salad, the tender leaves are blanched. We are fortunate to be able to get this vegetable on occasion at Sontepheap Market on International Boulevard in Oakland.

The dish is completed with small pieces of Chinese sausage, which adds a meaty, sweetness to the dish, a small amount of carrots for texture, thin rounds of green onions, shallots and a few peanuts. The sauce, made from fish sauce, lime juice, coconut cream, sugar and chillies, is equally salty and sour with a little background sweetness. It is topped with crisp-fried garlic and crisp-fried shallots.

The dish is a wonder of tastes – at one time you’ll get the sweetness from the sausage, then the sourness takes over with a bit of chilli heat. Different flavors come up: now coconut, now sausage, now the green, now everything’s blended together. It’s a wonder of textures – from the blanched vegetable, to the occasional carrot to the crispy shallots and chillies. I swear, I could have eaten the whole plate by myself! Except, that would have left no room for other equally delicious dishes.

This dish is taught in Kasma’s advanced class H-4.


Thai Muslim Goat Curry

Thai Muslim Goat Curry (Gkaeng Ped Pae): Goat curry is not your usual Thai dish. Goat, in Thailand, is eaten mainly by the Muslim population to the south. The first time I had goat curry was when we were snorkeling in Krabi province on a long-tail boat. The boat driver’s wife always provided lunch and one year Kasma asked if she could get goat. As it turned out, we had to buy the whole goat but it provided three meals worth of delicious food, including a goat curry.

This recipe makes the curry paste from scratch, pounded in a mortar and pestle, with the many of the usual ingredients: dried red chillies, salt, lemon grass, galanga, krachai (or gkrachai), turmeric, garlic, shallots and kapi (shrimp paste). It uses coconut milk (not all Thai curries do, see Kasma’s blog on Thai Curries – Gkaeng (or Gaeng).) It’s further seasoned with toasted coriander and cumin seeds and in addition to the goat meat includes pea eggplants, providing a bit of the bitter taste.

Kasma uses the goat as they do in Thailand, meat cut with the bone. It makes for a tastier, thicker and healthier curry.

People sometimes complain that goat has a strong taste: in this dish, it is not overpowering and blends in seamlessly with the somewhat spicy curry paste. A delicious dish.

This dish is taught in Kasma’s advanced class H-1.


Crispy Fried Catfish

Crispy Fried Catfish Coated with Red Curry Sauce (Pad Ped Bplah Doog Tawd Gkrawp):
This dish actually was in one of the very first advanced classes I took from Kasma back in the early 90’s. Because the evening classes are somewhat different than the weeklong classes, it just worked out that this dish ended up in her 4th advanced weeklong class.

In this dish, the catfish is fried in chunks until it is nice and crispy. Then the curry paste (which has 17 ingredients in it) is fried in a bit of coconut cream (1/2 to 1 cup of cream only for 2 pounds of fish), then thickened, used to just coat the fried catfish pieces and tossed with kaffir lime slivers, some krachai (or gkrachai) and young green peppercorns. There’s really no sauce to speak of – just the coated fish with all of the intense flavors from the curry paste and herbs.

Do click on the picture above to see a larger version.

This dish is taught in Kasma’s advanced class B-3.


Stir-Fried Prawns

Stir-Fried Prawns with Hot Garlic-Pepper Sauce (Gkoong Pad Gkratiem Prikthai): A deceptively simple group of ingredients, succulent prawns are mostly cooked, and then finished off in a sauce made from a paste made from garlic and fresh ground white peppercorns, Sriacha chilli sauce, fish sauce, thin soy sauce, vinegar and salt. This dish is made by the combination of flavors, the pungent pepper, the bright garlic and the salty-sour-just-a-bit-sweet sauce. Made right, the combination lights up your entire palate.

This dish is taught in Kasma’s advanced class G-4.


Stir-Fried Pork Belly

Stir-Fried Pork Belly with Fermented Tofu Sauce and Thai Chillies (Moo Sahm Chan Pad Dtow Hoo Yee): I have saved the best for last. Although we often joke than my list of top 5 Thai dishes has about 20 dishes on it, this is currently at the top of the list.

Probably more of a Chinese dish than Thai, it’s another hard dish to describe unless you’ve tried fermented tofu; in addition, this uses red fermented tofu rather than the more usual plain kind; the red color comes from wine. Fermented tofu is said to be an acquired taste: this was true for me: the first time I was offered fermented tofu I couldn’t eat it. Now, it’s one of my favorite things: it’s great in congee (jook). In this dish it is combined with another of my favorite foods: skin-on pork belly. Pork belly is the part of the pig used to make bacon; Asians often leave the skin on, providing another chewy texture to contrast with the layers of meat and fat.

The dish also contains chopped garlic, garlic cloves in large pieces, Thai chillies and some of the brine from red fermented tofu. The result is delicious, chewy, slightly sour chunks of multi-textured pork belly with the occasional chunk of garlic and Thai chilli as accents. Heavenly.

I first had this dish at our favorite Krabi restaurant, Ruen Mai. They make it slightly different: they deep fry the pork belly first to give it a bit of a crust. I prefer Kasma’s version.

This dish is taught in Kasma’s advanced class H-2.


 

Cassava Custard

Cassava Custard Topped with Coconut Cream (Dtakoh Man Sambpalang): This is more of a snack than what most people would consider a dessert. It’s an eggless cassava custard with a coconut cream topping. All that’s needed after such a delicious and complete meal is just a square to provide a bit of sweetness along with a bit of coconut to smooth away any residual heat.

This dish is taught in Kasma’s advanced class G-1.

You might enjoy my blog on
Thai Sweet Tracks – Kanom Wahn.

The Meal Summed Up

This meal is much more than the sum of it’s parts. I can single out one dish or another but the result was a meal that memory is a movement from one delicious taste, one delicious dish, to another. It’s one of those meals you wish would not end.

If there’s another place in America to get a meal like this, I have not come across it!

We recently blogged on our Weeklong Thai Cooking Classes.


You may also enjoy:


You can, of course, argue that I’m biased; after all, I’m married to Kasma. On the other hand, this makes me very well qualified on the subject as well, at least for a fahrang (the Thai word for a Caucasian). I’ve traveled to Thailand every year since I got together with Kasma in 1992. I’ve been all over the Kingdom and eaten in great Thai restaurants all over Thailand. I’ve gotten to listen to Kasma talk about her passion, Thai Food, at home, in restaurants in Thailand and sitting on the living room couch.

Menu for Weeklong Advanced D – Day 2

  • Stir-Fried Cha-om with Bean Thread and Eggs  (Cha-om Pad Woon Sen Kai) 
  • Wilted Greens Salad with Coconut-Lime Chilli Sauce, Fried Chinese Sausage, Crisped Garlic and Crisped Shallots (Yam Dtam Leung)
  • Sour Chopped Pork Salad with Slivered Ginger, Pork Skin and Fried Peanuts (Naem Sod)
  • Thai Muslim Goat Curry (Gkaeng Ped Pae)
  • Crispy Fried Catfish Coated with Red Curry Sauce (Pad Ped Bplah Doog Tawd Gkrawp)
  • Stir-Fried Prawns with Hot Garlic-Pepper Sauce (Gkoong Pad Gkratiem Prikthai)
  • Stir-Fried Pork Belly with Fermented Tofu Sauce and Thai Chillies (Moo Sahm Chan Pad Dtow Hoo Yee)
  • Cassava Custard Topped with Coconut Cream (Dtakoh Man Sambpalang) 

Written by Michael Babcock October, 2011

Weeklong Thai Cooking Class

Michael Babcock, Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Note: Kasma no longer offers the weeklong Thai cooking classes. I will leave this blog up as a historical record.

During July and August, Thai cooking teacher Kasma Loha-unchit used to offer weeklong Thai cooking classes in the San Francisco Bay Area for people who wanted to learn how to cook Thai food as authentic and delicious as that found in Thailand. The classes were called “intensives” because for 5 straight days participants spent all day learning, cooking and eating Thai food. Unfortunately, we no longer offer these classes – they were an incredible amount of work and as Kasma edges towards retirement, she has stopped offering them.

In this blog we’ll try to give you a sense of what those classes were like.

Click images to see larger version. There’s also a slideshow further down.

Overview

Kasma Loha-unchit

Kasma demonstrates Green Papaya Salad

Kasma, who offered 4-session evening series classes starting in 1985, began offering these classes in 1998 because of requests from people who discovered the classes through Kasma’s website – thaifoodandtravel.com. She very quickly began offering two of the Beginning/Intermediate intensives each summer along with two advanced weeklong classes. Hundreds of people from all over the world have attended the Beginning/Intermediate class, many of them going on to take the Advanced weeklong classes as well.

Kasma teaches all of her classes in her home. The more casual and intimate setting allows people to relax more and to get to know one another. Since most students will be cooking in their home kitchen, it makes sense to learn in a home kitchen similar to what they will find when they return home.

Plate of Thai Food

Thai food - what it's all about

The Beginning/Intermediate class combines the evening Beginning Series and evening Intermediate Series with some extras; it introduces most important Thai ingredients and many of the cooking techniques, including using the mortar and pestle to make pastes. The Beginning/Intermediate class lays the foundation of how to balance flavor groupings to create Thai tastes, whether using a recipe or not. Everyone starts with the Beginning/Intermediate class: it’s the only way Kasma can insure that everyone in the Advanced classes has a common set of essential information and that everyone has been exposed to harmonizing Thai flavors. Many of the recipes in the Beginning/Intermediate class are familiar to anyone exposed to Thai restaurants in the U.S. – Basil Chicken, Green Curry, Shrimp Cakes, Pad Thai noodles – to name a few.

Students at Work

The classes are great fun

In the Advanced weeklong classes more Thai ingredients (less common ones) are introduced along with new techniques and the refining and expansion of previous techniques. In addition to more familiar recipes, the Advanced classes include more recipes that are not so common in this country. Kasma estimates that the Thai restaurants in the U.S. offer around 5% of the total number of dishes in Thailand; the advanced weeklong classes are a chance to learn how to cook and to eat many of the other 95% of Thai dishes. Kasma started out with just one Advanced weeklong class and added 3 more in response to demand from students, who wanted to keep learning more dishes and more about Thai food.

Format

Breakfast

One morning's breakfast

The format of all of the classes is  the same. Class always starts with a delicious breakfast consisting of pastries and cheese breads from local (mostly co-operative) bakeries, organic heirloom tomatoes and tree-ripened organic fruits from the Berkeley Farmers market, quail eggs with Thai dipping sauces and a different Asian snack each day. Peet’s coffee and a selection of teas are also served. The breakfasts are fantastic!

After breakfast, everyone sits at the long table and Kasma goes over each of the recipes. This teaching session necessarily takes a bit longer in the Beginning/Intermediate class: Kasma needs to introduce the ingredients for the first time as she goes over each of the recipes. Questions are encouraged and part of the process involves smelling, tasting and touching Thai herbs and some comparative tasting (of coconut milks, for example). Class most days starts at 9:30 a.m. and the sitting instruction can last anywhere from 2 to 2-1/2 hours (there’s a break in the middle to sample more of the breakfast).

Students Prepping

Students prepping dishes

Students Prep Food

Chopping & pounding

After the initial instruction, the group breaks up into teams, each team working on 1 or 2 recipes; each team does all of the prep with Kasma supervising and instructing further as needed. After the ingredients are prepared, the food is assembled. Unlike other classes, the assembly is done as a group: everyone gets to watch each dish being cooked and finished. Initially (the first day or two) Kasma does much of the assembly herself and each day students take over more and more of the work, with Kasma watching. Each dish is designed to serve many people: you learn to cook dishes exactly the way you would cook them at home.

Folding Banana Leaves

Folding banana leaves

Making Roti

Making roti

Assembling Pork Rice Soup

Assembly of many of the dishes involves a series of tasting exercises. The essence of Kasma’s classes is learning to balance flavors. (See Kasma’s article Creating Harmonies with Primary Flavors.) Most of Kasma’s recipes give a range of quantity for many key flavoring ingredients, such as fish sauce, lime juice or palm sugar, because these ingredients can vary widely and blindly following a recipe with just a set quality may not produce a very tasty dish. (See the blog Following Thai Recipes.) Kasma will add a certain quantity of an ingredient, say fish sauce, and then everyone gets a chance to taste what the dish tastes like; more fish sauce, or palm sugar, or lime juice will be added and after each addition, there’s another tasting and students get to see how the flavors interact and how they become more layered and more complex, sometimes with just a small extra addition of something. I’ve had many experiences with these tasting exercises where I thought something tasted really, really good – I would have stopped right there. Then Kasma adds just a bit more of something and the flavors POP!!! into a revelation. It’s a chance to see, to experience the alchemy of Thai cooking.

Students Cook

A team of students

Each day there’s a dish or two that is cooked earlier on to serve as lunch or as asnack to bridge the time until you sit down to eat a Thai feast around 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. Most people find they don’t need to worry about eating dinner – they go away very full indeed! We provide beer or wine, as desired, and lemon- or limeade. Each day finishes with a Thai dessert. These classes are a great way to try some of the wonderful variety of Thai kanom wahn (“sweet snacks”).

One day during most of the weeklong classes is a one-dish meal day. You’ll learn many noodle dishes, from familiar dishes, such as Pad Thai, to the other noodle dishes that Thai people actually prefer: such as Stewed Duck Noodles, Boat Noodles and Kao Soi (Chiang Mai Curried Noodles). Some of the non-noodle (one-dish meal) dishes include Kao Man Gai (Poached Chicken Rice), Salted Black Olive Rice, Muslim Yellow Rice and Pork Rice Soup.

Charcoal Roasted Sea Bass

The last day is a little different. We start Friday with a 2-hour or so field trip to the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market, with its many Asian vendors, and to some of Kasma’s favorite markets in Oakland’s Chinatown. This is a chance for students to learn how to negotiate Asian markets and to learn about some of the exotic Asian ingredients that are found there. Every single one of our Advanced weeklong classes has wanted Kasma to include the optional field trip. We then return and assemble the day’s meal, which always includes grilled dishes on Friday, and on this day we eat out in Kasma’s beautiful garden.

After the Beginning/Intermediate class you will have been introduced to most of the important Thai ingredients, will know most of the main cooking techniques and will understand how to balance the flavor groupings to make delicious Thai flavors, with or without a recipe. You will have over 40 delicious Thai recipes with which to amaze and delight your friends. Be warned, you may find out, as have many students over the years, that you no longer wish to eat in local Thai restaurants because the Thai food is better at home!

Advanced Class Format

The format is essentially the same – breakfast, initial instruction and then breaking into teams, coming together so that everyone can see how a dish is cooked and finished. In the advanced weeks, students do pretty much everything under Kasma’s supervision.

Each Advanced weeklong class has 40 to 45 delicious Thai recipes. Many of these are dishes seldom seen outside of Thailand. You’ll be able to cook dishes at home that you can’t find in the local Thai restaurants. After you’ve taken the Beginning/Intermediate class and all 4 Advanced weeklong classes, you’ll have well over 200 Thai recipes to choose from.

Weeklong Food Sampling

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Frying Fish
Fried Fish
Making Basil Chicken
Spicy Basil Chicken
Making Mee Krob
Mee Krob
Steaming Fish Curry
Haw Moek
Mushroom Salad
Bean Thread Salad
Thai-Style Chicken Salad
Black Olive Rice
Calamari Salad
Stir-fried Eggplant
Lemon Grass Salad
Spicy Tamarind Prawns
Dipping Sauce
Daikon Cakes

The 3rd day of the First Week you learn to fry a whole fish

Crisped Whole Fish Topped with Chilli-Tamarind Sauce (Bplah Rad Prik) from the First Week, day 3

On day 2 of the First Week you learn to make Basil Chicken

Spicy Basil Chicken (Gkai Pad Gkaprow) on day 2 of the First Week

Making Mee Krob noodles on the 4th day of the First Week

Mee Krob- Glazed Crispy Noodles (a snack or appetizer), on the 4th day of the First Week

Haw Moek is a Fish Curry Mousse in Banana Leaf Baskets, here ready to be steamed

Curried Mousse of Red Snapper in Banana Leaf cups (Haw Moek Bplah) from day 2 of the First Week

Charcoal-Grilled Mushroom and Jicama Salad with Shrimp and Fried Cashews (Yam Hed Pao Man Gkaew) from day 3 of Advanced Set D

Thai-Style Bean Thread Salad (Yum Woon Sen) from Day 4 of Advanced Set B

Spicy Thai-Style Chicken Salad (Gkai Naem) from day 2 of Advanced Set B

Putting finishing touches to Salted Black Olive Fried Rice (Kao Pad Nahm Liap) on day 2 of Advanced Set B

Spicy Calamari Salad with Lemon Grass, Mint and Lime Sauce (Yam Bplah Meuk) from the very first day (First Week)

Stir-fried Eggplant with Chillies and Thai Basil (Pad Makeua Yao) from the day 3 of the First Week

Lemon Grass Salad (Sukhothai) (Yum Dtakrai) from day 4 of Advanced Set B

Southern Thai-Style Spicy Tamarind Prawns with Crisped Shallots and Garlic (Gkoong Yai Pad Som Makahm Bpiak)from day 5 of Advanced Set A

Pan-fried Mackerel and Assorted Vegetables with Hot-and-Pungent Fermented Shrimp Dipping Sauce (Nahm Prik Bplah Too)from day 3 of Advanced Set B

Pan-fried Steamed Daikon Cakes with Shrimp, Bean Sprouts and Garlic Chives (Pad Kanom Hua Pakgahd) from day 3 of Advanced Set D

Frying Fish thumbnail
Fried Fish thumbnail
Making Basil Chicken thumbnail
Spicy Basil Chicken thumbnail
Making Mee Krob thumbnail
Mee Krob thumbnail
Steaming Fish Curry thumbnail
Haw Moek thumbnail
Mushroom Salad thumbnail
Bean Thread Salad thumbnail
Thai-Style Chicken Salad thumbnail
Black Olive Rice thumbnail
Calamari Salad thumbnail
Stir-fried Eggplant thumbnail
Lemon Grass Salad thumbnail
Spicy Tamarind Prawns thumbnail
Dipping Sauce thumbnail
Daikon Cakes thumbnail

Why Take This Class

There’s an English proverb that dates back to the early 1600s that says: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A cooking class can be lots of fun but ultimately you want to know that what you are learning to make is fabulous food.

Eating a Meal

Dinner in the garden

People take the Beginning/Intermediate class pretty much for one reason: to learn how to cook delicious Thai food. After this class, people return for multiple reasons: to learn more about Thai cooking, because they had so much fun during the first week and to eat. They come to learn to cook Thai dihes that they don’t find anywhere else outside of Thailand. Always, though, the main reason people return is because the food is so fabulous. These were truly unique classes – there is probably nowhere else in the United States that you could eat some of these fabulous meals. (The food in the Beginning/Intermediate class is fabulous as well; the Beginning/Intermediate people don’t believe us when we say the food in the Advanced classes is even better.) We have students who tell us that Kasma’s food is even better than what they have in Thailand. People return time after time – many people have taken all 5 of the weeklong classes and regularly ask us when Kasma will offer the 6th – because the food is so good. Several people have repeated one or more of the Advanced Weeklong classes because they wanted their Thai food hit. Other students go on to take the evening series Advanced classes.

Students Eating

Sitting down to eat

Eating Outside

Eating Outside

Kasma stir-fries Pad Thai

Written by Michael Babcock, October 2011. Updated on in May 2017

Basil Salmon

Michael Babcock, Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Here’s a variation on one of the most popular dishes in Thailand – Pad Ka-prao – meaning “stir-fried with (holy) basil.” Almost anything you can think of – pork, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp – can be stir-fried with basil and served over rice. One of my favorite variations of the dish, and a staple when Kasma is out of town because it’s so easy to cook, is Salmon Stir-fried with Basil.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Basil Salmon

Basil Salmon


Pad Ka-prao is one dish that I’ve learned to cook very well. I remember the first time I ever cooked it. It was back in 1992 when I took the beginning cooking series from Kasma; she teaches Spicy Basil Chicken in the second class. As she demonstrated it all looked so very easy and natural. So I decided to cook it for myself at home. That very first time I found out that Kasma’s ease was a bit deceptive; when I cooked it, everything seemed to happen way to fast! Each time I made the dish it became easier and the process seemed to slow down. Practice can, indeed, make perfect.

Basil Salmon Close-up

Basil Salmon - close-up

Learning to cook the dish well has been one of my lessons about the process of learning something new. When I first cooked the dish, my nose was in the recipe because I was so afraid of doing something wrong. As I became more comfortable with the steps, I’ve been able to internalize the recipe and learn how to adapt it to different things.

The basic recipe is Kasma’s Spicy Basil Chicken – Gkai Pad Gkaprow This recipe is a good starting point.

For the dish pictured here, I made a few changes. Because I use Thai sweet basil, rather than holy basil, it is actually pad horapa, stir-fried with Thai sweet basil.


Basil Salmon – Salmon Pad Horapa

Recipe by Michael Babcock
Adapted from a recipe by Kasma Loha-unchit

Ingredients

  • 3 TBs. duck fat or lard
  • 10-12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 red Fresno chillies, in strips
  • 3/4 lb. (335 grams) salmon, in fairly large bite-sized pieces
  • 2+ tsp. black soy sauce, to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs. (or so) fish sauce, to taste
  • Leaves of 1 large bunch Thai sweet basil – bai horapa

Heat the wok until smoking; add the fat, let melt; toss in the garlic; stir-fry for a bit; add in the chillies; stir-fry a bit longer; add the salmon; stir-fry for a bit; sprinkle in and mix the black soy sauce and fish sauce; add the basil and stir-fry until wilted. Serve over rice.

Notes:

The key to the recipe is not to overcook the salmon; make the pieces a bit larger than bite size and make sure it’s still slightly pink on the inside; you’ll want to work pretty fast, not stir too much (you don’t want the pieces to fall apart), and add the basil early enough so that it will wilt before the salmon overcooks.

This is one dish where I prefer bai horapa – Thai sweet basil – to bai ka-prao – holy basil; I think it goes better with the salmon.

As always, this is a dish you should make your own. None of the quantities are set in stone. Try it with more garlic; or more chillies; or more basil; or less fish sauce. After you’ve cooked it once, try it again within a couple of days to see how the new variation tastes.


[1.] You may notice that I have transliterated the Thai word for holy basil at ka-prao and Kasma has transliterated it as gkaprow. The most common transliteration that you’ll find on the web is actually kra-pao, which makes no sense at all because in the Thai spelling there is no “r” after the initial consonant.

The Thai alphabet differs from the English alphabet. The initial consonant for gkaprow or ka-prao is gaw – gai (or gkaw – gkai), the sound “g” (or “gk”) as used in the word gai (or gkai), meaning chicken. The official Thai transliteration for this consonant, which is actually a cross between a “g” and a “k” is “k”; Kasma prefers to transliterate it as “gk” because this it conveys the sound more accurately. The second syllable can be transliterated either as “prao” (as is official) or “prow” as Kasma has done.

The point is that any spelling of a Thai word that uses English characters rather than Thai characters is very likely not a very good representation of the actual word, particularly because the spelling with Thai characters also gives you the correct tone.

(You can also read A Note on Thai Pronunciation and Spelling.)


Written by Michael Babcock, September 2011