Bangkok’s Movable Feast

Amita Thai gives visitors a lesson in Thailand’s exotic, flavorful cuisine

By: By Ed Rampell

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The Details

Amita Thai Cooking Class
662-466-8966
www.amitathaicooking.com

To book a class at Amita, visit the school’s Web site. Agents should know that, according to Amita Thai’s site, all bookings require reconfirmation the day before the course. Any online bookings not reconfirmed will automatically be canceled unless other arrangements have been made. Clients should call 662-466-8966 in Bangkok to reconfirm.
For more information, e-mail: info@amitathaicooking.com.

Getting There:
Taiwanese airline Eva Airways flies Boeing 777-300 ER jets from Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; Newark, N.J.; and Vancouver, British Columbia, to Bangkok by way of Taipei.

Eva Airways
800-695-1188
www.evaair.com

Cross-cultural culinary adventures expand our horizons and Thailand, in particular, serves up one of the world’s most celebrated and distinctive cuisines. But one need not order from menus at posh bistros to enjoy succulent Thai dishes. Visitors to the Southeast Asian kingdom can learn how to cook Thai food — fine-tuning spices to fit personal palettes — to be able to feast on demand. And in these cost-conscious times, learning this talent and preparing meals at home is economical, while still gratifying exotic appetites.

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Amita Thai Cooking Class teaches clients how to prepare popular Thai dishes. // © Nui Montri

The Amita Thai Cooking Class teaches tourists the mouth-watering and dollar-saving art of creating delicious meals from the “Land of Smiles.”

Upon docking at the Amita culinary institute on the banks of Sanam Chai Canal, we were greeted with a refreshing drink of chilled coconuts. Headmistress, head chef and owner Piyawadi Jantrupon (nicknamed “Tam”), a sort of Thai Julia Child, is a bespectacled English-speaker whose cartoon image adorns Amita Thai’s T-shirts and business cards. From 1981 to 1987, Jantrupon lived in Los Angeles — husband Montri Jantrupon was the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s L.A. office — where she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.

“When I was a teen, I learned Thai cooking from my great-grandmother, who lived with and cooked for a noble family,” Jantrupon told us. “My aunt, now 102 years old, also taught and shared her cooking tips.”

Under Jantrupon’s tutelage, we explored Amita Thai’s fragrant herb garden, which was shaded by mango, rose apple and star fruit trees. Here, we picked fresh organic ingredients such as sweet and hot basil, hot chili, Kaffir lime leaves and peppercorn. With these ingredients in hand, we went to our cooking stations — a series of burners and utensils atop long tables. Aided by two chef assistants who previously worked in Thai restaurants, Jantrupon demonstrated four main dishes before letting us have a go at them.

For our papaya salads, we used clay and stone mortars and pestles for pounding garlic, red chili and dried shrimps. We grated one cup of green papaya, slightly pounded long beans and added two tablespoons of dried shrimp and dressing. We tossed it all together, then topped the dish with toasted peanuts and garnished it with lettuce. Voila!

Each Amita Thai class includes four popular dishes per lesson. In addition to the papaya salad, we learned how to make green curry chicken in coconut milk, grilled marinated beef with spicy lemon sauce and banana in coconut milk, a dessert. A total of 14 menu mainstays are taught in three sessions and private, customized classes are also available.

Best of all, at the end of each class, the newly anointed gourmet chefs get to devour the meals they prepared on a veranda overlooking the river.


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