Battambang is home to two popular cooking schools, and I believe they are the cheapest you will find in Southeast Asia. While the going rate at most seem to be around $25-30, in Battambang it’s just $7-8. We chose Nari’s Kitchen and had a great time.
Purchasing Food in the Market
We met up at 4pm after our exhausting day of hiking to temples. There were seven people in our class, which is more than the cook Toot usually has, so he brought on his friend as an assistant. We each selected three dishes to cook and then went to the market to buy supplies. Our dishes were Beef Lok Lak, Chicken Curry, and Spring Rolls. Everyone else was making a fish dish (I don’t eat seafood) so, unfortunately, our first stop in the market was at the woman with live fish. When Toot told her how many fish he needed, she pulled a squirming fish out of the bucket, beat it over the head with the knife, then began to slice. I’ll spare you further details except to say that she was wearing rubber boots and old clothes for a reason. I was slightly horrified and turned around so I didn’t have to watch her do this to the remaining fish. We purchased plenty of vegetables, a few more meats, and some freshly shaved coconut. There was a boy wandering through the market begging for food, and I didn’t have so much as a pack of crackers on me at the time. A woman selling meat parts gave him what looked like a raw intestine, and he chomped on it as if it were a feast. It was really sad and a jolt back to reality.
Chop chop chop!
We got back to the restaurant, and Toot handed out the coconut to be squeezed into coconut’s milk. I hate to brag, but I think I was the star student when it came to the coconut milk ;) We chopped lots of vegetables and pounded loads of spices with a mortar and pestle. Toot is a very eager teacher, and when he came to check on everyone, if he didn’t think you were done you would hear, “More more more! Chop chop chop!” No shortage of enthusiasm at Nari’s Kitchen.
We plated the foods after cooking them, took off our awesome looking aprons, and sat down to eat. The food was phenomenal- as much as I’d like to brag about my cooking skills, it helped that Toot has really good recipes to choose from. Our best dish was the spring rolls, and even a fellow student raved about them. I’ll definitely be making some of these dishes when I get home. At a mere $7/person for a cooking class at Nari’s Kitchen, it was the jam! (That is a phrase I borrowed from my sister. For those of you that don’t include ‘It was the jam’ in your everyday lingo, let me just say, It was spectacular!)