Cooking Tom Yum at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy

 "So what will it be? Turtle or eel? Let me know and I'll ask the fish seller to get it ready for you."

I looked at my fellow cooking school classmates nervously and then we all looked at Chef very nervously. Really, was he serious that those were our only choices for the non-vegetarian protein for our dishes. What happened to good old fashioned chicken or beef?

We were in the middle of the Onnuch Fresh Market in Bangkok, weaving our way through vendors, taking in the new sights and smells while examining fresh produce for our Thai cooking class at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy across the road.

We had stopped at the fish seller and while there were impressive jumbo tiger prawns and massive fresh fish, all of us could barely take our eyes off the bucket full of slippery, writhing, live little eels swimming around frantically one on top of the other. In the next tub, the sweetest bunch of little turtles swam around lazily, slowly pushing their cute little nostrils out of the water to greet us. No, I couldn't think of cooking these eels. And definitely not a turtle. I'd rather take him home as a pet. After all, I'd already named the cute little fellow with the green shell Sheldon.

"Just joking!" Chef chortled. "We don't eat these small eels and turtles in Bangkok. People buy them to release them into the canals for good luck."

Well I must say, somebody has a sense of humor. 

Cooking at The Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy

When I signed up for cooking classes in Bangkok, I hadn't counted on eating anything too exotic. All I really wanted to learn was how to make an authentic Tom Yum soup.

And over the next 3 hours, I did learn to make the most wonderful Tom Yum soup, plus how to make a curry paste and 3 other dishes of my choice that I had pre-selected when I registered for the course.

Tom yum soup, Tom yum goong, Tofu Tom Yum in white bowl
The Tom Yum Goong soup that I made at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy cooking class.

The Tom Yum recipe is at the end of the post. So, if you're hungry scroll down to get started.

If not, stay awhile and I'll tell you about my lovely experience learning to cook Thai food in Bangkok and give you a review of my experience at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy.

This is something I would recommend anyone visiting Bangkok on a short holiday and who has half a day to spare do;  learn to cook authentic Thai food. It's a memorable and unique experience and it will leave you with fun memories of your trip. Not to mention a repertoire of Thai dishes to try when you return home.

This group cooking class starts with a visit to a fresh market followed by a hands-on cooking experience where each of the students makes their own pre-selected dishes of their choice, at their own cooking stations, all under the supervision of professional Thai chefs. 

There were 10 students in my cooking class, all from different parts of the world, all visiting Thailand and all with the same intention; learning to cook authentic Thai food in Bangkok. 

At the end of our cooking class, we all got to sit down together and eat our creations together in a happy, communal setting. 

Onnuch Fresh Market in Bangkok

Below are a few pictures of our tour at the Onnuch Fresh Market.

Onnuch Fresh market, Bangkok, Thailand, Thai woman selling fruits, On Nut
A fruit stall at the Onnuch Fresh market in Bangkok, selling lots of exotic tropical fruits like dragon fruit, jackfruit and durian.

Fun fact: 
Most hotels have strict rules surrounding durian, jackfruit's odiferous cousin. 
No durian allowed in hotel rooms!

Onnuch Fresh market, Bangkok, Thailand
At this fresh greens vendor, she sells little packages of kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and coriander- everything that's needed to make a Thai curry.

Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy in Bangkok

This is our cooking room at  Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, with each of our prep stations set out with all the ingredients and equipment that we need to make our pre-selected dishes.

Students sitting at the cooking prep stations at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, Thai cooking school,  bangkok thai cooking class, bangkok cooking academy, learn to cook thai food in bangkok, bangkok thai cooking academy review, bangkok thai cooking

This is a close up of my prep station. Each white plate holds the portioned out ingredients of each of the dishes I had opted to make.
And of course, we have our cutting board, a really sharp chef's knife and a lovely blue apron to get us through it all.

Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy individual prep station
A prep station with all the ingredients required for the dishes: From bottom left- Tom Yum, Spicy Basil Chicken, Penang curry (center two), Pad See Ew.

Each student has to do their own cleaning, cutting, chopping and prepping. This is a true 'hands-on' cooking class.

Watch out, the knife is really sharp! And the head chef moves fairly quickly with instructions. But don't worry. For those whose kitchen skills are not the greatest, the chefs and helpers do come around to give students a hand.

Chopping ingredients at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy
Here I am in action, finely chopping up all the ingredients required for a Thai Green Curry.

After the chopping, then comes the pounding! A truly fun part! 
We used a very heavy Thai mortar and pestle (krok and sak) to make our Thai curry pastes and get a bit of a bicep work out in the bargain. Nothing like a little exercise to work up an appetite.

Students using mortar and pestle at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, Thai cooking school
To make our curry pastes, we place our finely chopped fresh ingredients in a mortar and pestle and give it good pounding until it disintegrates into a paste.

Once we had prepped all our ingredients for all our various dishes, we moved over to our cooking stations. Each student had their own cooking station, complete with their own stove, wok and cooking utensils.

Under instruction and supervision of our chefs we steamed, swirled, tossed and stir fried our dishes to perfection.

Bangkok Thai cooking class, Bangkok cooking academy, learn to cook thai food in bangkok, bangkok thai cooking academy review, bangkok thai cooking, Students stir frying in their woks at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, Thai cooking school

Finally, every dish was plated and then we sat down to eat together.
Below is a snapshot of all the 4 dishes that I made in 3 1/2 hours at The Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy. 

The Mango and Sticky Rice dessert, was the 5th dish and the only once that was demonstrated to us by the chefs. The rest I can proudly say I made.

5 dishes prepared at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy
Clockwise from bottom left: Mango and Sticky Rice dessert, Thai Green Curry, Pad Thai, Black Pepper Beef, Larb Gai, Sticky rice, 

And below is a snapshot of my trusty traveling and cooking companion, Hansom hubby's dishes.

5 dishes prepared at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy
Clockwise from bottom left: Sticky rice and mango dessert, Pad See Ew, Panang Curry, Spicy Basil Chicken, Tom Yum Soup, White rice.

And now, pardon us while we eat.

And perhaps, one day I'll invite you over to my place and cook up some authentic Thai food for you ;)

Tom Yum Soup

Youtube Video courtesy of Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy
Recipe from Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy 


☐ 300 Grams tofu or shrimp
☐ 2 Cups Chicken stock
☐ 10 Slices Galanga ginger, thinly sliced
☐ 3 Leaves Kaffir lime, center vein removed
☐ 2 Straw mushrooms, quartered
☐ 2 Stalks Lemongrass, smashed
☐ 1 Tomato, quartered
☐ 1 Red shallot, quartered
☐ 1 Coriander root, smashed 
☐ 1-3 Birds eye chilis, sliced
☐ 1 Stalk Coriander, chopped
☐ 3 Stalks Thai Coriander, chopped
☐ Lime Juice to taste


☐ 1 tbsp Fish sauce
☐ 1 Lime juice (to taste)
☐ 1 tsp Palm sugar
☐ 1 tsp Tamarind paste
☐ 1 tbsp Thai chili paste
☐ 4 tbsp Carnation milk (coconut milk optional)

Step by Step Instructions

  1. In a pot, add 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add chili peppers, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galanga ginger, shallots, coriander root and boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Add Thai chili paste.
  3. Add mushrooms and tomatoes.
  4. Add tofu or shrimp.
  5. Season with fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind paste.
  6. Add Carnation milk/ coconut milk.
  7. Stir in lime juice (to taste) and turn off heat.
  8. Add coriander and stir into soup.

For more of my Thai recipes and stories in Bangkok check out:

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