Vietnamese and Thai Cookery Day

I recently attended a Vietnamese and Thai Cookery Day at The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath run by Rachel Demuth.

I first met Rachel last year and discovered that we both have a love of teaching and passing on our skills and knowledge to others. Like me Rachel has travelled extensively in India and the Far East and learned about new ingredients and techniques along the way.

I was thrilled when she invited me to come along to her Thai and Vietnamese Cookery Day.  I am very comfortable with Thai cooking.  I spent time at a cookery school in Chiang Rai to learn the basics and then honed my skills living in a traditional Thai community in the nearby jungle.  I never managed to get to Vietnam though so was really looking forward to learning some new recipes!

I arrived to find tutor Helen busily preparing for the class.  There was already a wonderful aroma of spices in the room.

Co Tutor Helen

Chopping and peeling

Wonderful Thai and Vietnamese ingredients had been laid out ready for the students when they arrived.

Beautiful fresh ingredients

First off Rachel talked us through the key spices, vegetables and herbs we would be using. Thai food encompasses five flavours.

rachel demuth

Rachel Demuth talking us through the ingredients for the day

We started with bitter which comes from the pea aubergines.

Pea Aubergines

Sour from tamarind.  This comes in various forms.  We used a pack which looked like brown jelly and is readily available in Asian supermarkets.  Rachel suggested avoiding the paste form as it loses the flavour.

Hot from the chillies.  We ran through the different varieties and were encouraged to split out into groups of mild, medium and hot.  I fluctuated between all three throughout the course of the day.



Sweet from palm sugar which can be substituted with brown sugar if you can’t find any.

palm sugar

Palm sugar

And finally salt.  Thai food uses fish sauce but as the cookery school is pure vegetarian, we substituted this with Shoyu (soy sauce).

And of course we were also going to use garlic, ginger, fresh turmeric and galangal.



garlic chilli lemongrass glangal

Bringing back memories of Thailand

turmeric ginger garlic galangal

Beautiful fresh colours



spring onions

Spring onions

lime leaves

Kaffir lime leaves

Helen then showed us how to make a Thai curry paste.  I have bittersweet memories of making curry paste in Chiang Rai.  We used to start early in order to hit the market and pound the ingredients before it got too humid.  I’m afraid I didn’t get very far as nausea prevailed so I loved the pragmatic use of a food processor by Helen!

Toasting the spices is a very important part of the process to release all the flavours. I cannot tell you how amazing the aromas were..


Spices gently toasting

The result was stunning. Very hot but a wonderful fresh taste.  we would use this later in our Thai Vegetable Curry.  The paste actually keeps very well in the fridge because of the oil content.  I use and ice cube tray to freeze it in easy to use blocks.

thai curry paste

Red curry paste

We moved on to Pad Thai and it was time for some hands on action.

students cooking

Group cooking

It was amazing to taste such different versions from the same ingredients.

pad thai

Pad Thai variations

Helen made us all a wonderful sweet omelette to go on top.

sweet thai omelette

Sweet Thai Omelette

Next we moved on to knife skills.  I think we were all apprehensive but it was great to have a go at ‘cheffy’ style chopping under her instruction.

knife skills

Helen showing us the different parts of the knife and its uses

We chopped all our ingredients for the curry and Vietnamese rice paper or Hue rolls.

vietnamese hue rolls

Chop chop chopped!

And then moved on to make dipping sauces in our groups again.

Collaborative Cooking

We ate the Hue rolls as we made them with Satay Sauce, Shoyu Dipping Sauce and Nam Phrik Pao (a chilli and red pepper dipping sauce).

pepper chilli

Parcels of baked peppers and chillies for Nam Phrik Phao

vietnamese hue rolls

Vietnamese Hue Rolls

shoyu dipping sauce

Nuock Tuong Toi Uk (Shoyu dipping sauce)

After a shortbreak to digest we moved on to Thai Curry which Helen demonstrated and then we made ourselves.  The trick is to fry the paste just enough to release the flavours but not enough to burn it.  Here was my groups’. It was the medium spiced version.

thai curry

Simmering Curry

Next came my favourite.  Thai Spring rolls which are filled with wonderful fresh carrots, noodles made from mung beans and black fungus.

Spring roll thai

Thai Spring Roll filling

The trick is in the rolling which was easy once Helen showed us how.  It needed a bit of concentration to make sure there were no holes or else the roll would pop when frying.

Delicate rolling of Thai Spring Rolls

thai spring rolls

The finished Thai Spring Rolls

I was getting rather tired now so I was grateful for an opportunity to sit and enjoy a glass of bubbly…..

Relaxing with a glass of bubbly

…..while we were shown how to make Green Papaya Salad with all the chopped ingredients…..

Green papaya salad

Green Papaya salad

…and Black Rice Pudding with Mango Chilli Syrupy Slices!

black rice pudding with mango

Black Rice Pudding with Mango and Coconut

I think I speak for the whole group when I say that we were well and truly full on leaving!  I met some lovely people from all over the UK – all interested in cooking vegetarian food.

Students from all over the UK

If you’d like to attend a course or know someone who might like to, there are dozens of different ones to try.  Or you can get a gift voucher and choose later!

demuth's gift vouchers

Gift vouchers for courses of all kinds

Thank you to Rachel and Helen for a wonderful day full of wonderful food and great tips on cooking!

20 responses to “Vietnamese and Thai Cookery Day

  1. It sounds like you had a great day.


  2. Looks good. *looks up train prices for trains from Manchester to Bath*!


  3. Stunning photos of what looks like a brilliant day. I love the Vietnamese Hue Rolls, so pretty and light. Lovely write up x


  4. Wow it all sounds amazing! I love Pad Thai! Great pictures too.


  5. Wow, I can’t believe how much you all cooked! Love the vietnamese rolls pic too!


  6. Pingback: Vietnamese Cooking

  7. Looks fantastic. I’ve found a website that will offer to post fresh Thai herbs and I’m really interested to see how they’ll pair with chocolate. The Thai basil, coriander, pandan, and chillies are top on my list for chocolate pairings. Thanks for sharing all the lovely pics.


  8. I adore Vietnamse cookery. Although I have to be careful as I am allergic to fish, and all fish products, which isn’t fun, when fish sauce is such an important ingredient. My brother’s girlfriend is Vietnamese, and this Autumn, we are going to Vietnam with her (it will be the first time she has been back to her village in over 20 years. I am tremendously excited, and honoured to be travelling with her).

    There is something very beautiful about the cuisine, so fresh, zingy, and full of flavour. I really love it.


  9. This looks like the perfect gift for my Mashi who lives on Bath, thnq!


  10. Pingback: Tastes of India | The Botanical Baker

  11. Pingback: Crazy for curry « eatingwithem

  12. Pingback: Learn to Cook Gujerati Food | Gujerati Girl

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