A fantastic way of truly experiencing a new country and its culture is through its cuisine and what better way to do so than by learning how to prepare some of the local dishes that you’ve managed to sample along the way. In our books, it is one of the best ways to take a little bit of your adventure home with you and on days when you need a little reminder of your journeys abroad, you can always whip up a dish that will transport you back in time. Plus you’ll get to share it with your loved ones as well.
With cooking courses becoming increasingly popular on the travel itinerary, we’ve rounded up some of the most unique ones that you can visit in Southeast Asia but before you hop on that plane, remember to visit Saleduck for access to an array of travel deals and discounts from websites such as Expedia, Agoda and more.
Red Bridge Cooking School, Hoi An, Vietnam
Red Bridge Cooking School also doubles as a riverside restaurant that dishes out both traditional and contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. The school offers half-day, full-day and evening classes throughout the year with lessons on how to prepare dishes such as pho bo ( Vietnamese beef noodle soup), tom nuong la chuoi (lemongrass shrimp grilled in banana leaves) and cha ca (claypot fish with fresh dill).
Class begins with an exciting exploration of the local food market to pick up the ingredients to be used during the lesson. Guests will then head to the school by way of a relaxing 25 minute boat ride along the Hoi An River. Upon arrival, participants will spend some time learning about local Vietnamese herbs and spices in the cooking school’s herb garden before getting a hands-on lesson on how to prepare the recipes they have learnt about. Once the class comes to an end, participants will get to sit down together and savour the meal that they have lovingly prepared.
Smokin’ Pot Restaurant and Cooking School, Battambang, Cambodia
Learn how to conjure up fish amok, chicken lok lak and other Khmer specialties at the wittily named Smokin’ Pot in the sleepy, bohemian city of Battambang. Visit the markets in the morning to pick out the fresh ingredients before heading back to the school to prepare the dishes of your choice. Each class is limited to six people per session which creates a very intimate and personalised lesson peppered with glowing conversation from Vannak, Smokin’ Pot’s knowledgeable owner, chef and instructor.
Authentic food prepared in an environment that exudes a laid-back, familial vibe, students also get to take home a recipe book and just in case you were wondering, the restaurant does indeed serve a dish containing the ingredient that inspires the premise’s name and yes, it’s pretty darn delicious.
Bumbu Cooking Class, Sarawak, Malaysia
Get hands-on experience in preparing traditional Malaysian-style dishes that is unique to Sarawak and learn the secrets of sourcing and cooking with fresh, organic ingredients that come courtesy of the state’s lush rainforests. Limited to a maximum of 10 heads per class, lessons begin in the local markets where you’ll learn to source and distinguish herbs and plants, interact with local sellers and perhaps, pick up a souvenir or two.
Back at the school, you’ll quickly notice that the entrance is decorated with beautiful local crafts that truly adds to the feeling of authenticity. Participants will get to prepare a three course menu that typically includes a curry, a veggie dish and a dessert – all from scratch. From grinding aromatics that serve as the basis of a curry paste to weaving banana leaves to construct miniature serving baskets for tepung pelita ( a sweet and creamy layered pudding delicately flavoured with coconut and pandan), Bumbu offers an experience that is totally immersive memorable.
Baan Thai, Chiangmai, Thailand
One of Thailand’s most popular cookery schools, travellers across the globe flock to this quaint venue to learn the art Thai cooking. Situated in the colourful Thapae Gate area, Baan Thai is easily accessible and is perfect for those who want to sneak in a lesson after a bout of shopping and sightseeing. Offering daily morning and evening courses, the school is all about creating a relaxed, homey atmosphere while its skilled instructors impart cookery wisdom upon its participants. Each course offers six different categories ( stir-fry, soup, appetizer, curry paste, curry, dessert) and participants get to choose a dish they want to learn from each category, allowing for a truly customisable and unique cooking experience.
With dishes such as Green Curry, Thai Fish Cakes and Mango Sticky Rice on the menu, there is a delightful balance of popular favourites and traditional, homestyle fare that will definitely hit the spot. Vegetarian options for all dishes are available and reservations can be easily made via the school’s website.