Thai Cooking for Dummies

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Who doesn’t love authentic Thai food? But who does know how to cook any of it?

Well, now I can say I do!

I attended a Thai cooking class with Chef Nongkran Daks of Thai Basil in Chantilly and learned all the tricks of the trade!

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If you have not been to Thai Basil but it sounds familiar—probably because Chef Nongkran Daks was on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay for her famous Pad Thai… and won!! So when I heard about the classes, I jumped at the opportunity.

At class this past Sunday, we had the opportunity to cook Kang Jued Woon Sen (bean thread noodle soup), Pad See Ew (rice noodles with Chinese broccoli), and Khanon Ba Bin (coconut cake).

Since it was the last class of the season, she threw in a bonus and taught us Pad Ki Mao (Drunken Noodles) at the end of the session.

So if you want a little more bang for your buck, grab a spot in her last class & you may get the same treat! (All are pictured below in order.)

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The class is very relaxed and held right in the dining room of Pad Thai; but since it is the middle of the day, the restaurant is quiet.

Nong has everything all set up and ready to when you arrive, so there is no time wasted on running back and forth to the kitchen. She even has an electric wok so you can cook most dishes right at the table.

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Nong is so sweet and down to Earth; but she is certainly witty too!

She infused the class with some stories from her travels, personal memories, and jokes—all of which were hilarious!

She sets you up for your at-home success by telling you what the most authentic ingredients are and where you can purchase them.

Nong also helps you remember the ingredients list but titling everything by its label so it’s easy to find—plus it’s pretty funny too (i.e. “fish sauce with three green crabs not to be confused with five red crabs”).

I still suggest taking pictures of the items, because it can be a little overwhelming looking for items in a foreign market.

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While the class isn’t 100% “hands on,” Nong offers for you to join her as much as possible with things like: cutting veggies, tending the wok, measuring and adding ingredients, etc.

She encourages you to go home and try everything on your own and contact her if you run into any issues. She even sells a lot of the knives and other kitchen tools on-site, to make sure everything comes out just right.

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Nongkran hosts a series of classes in the Spring and the Fall, costing $60. You can go to as many or as few as you like; but make sure to sign up early since the class size is no more than 12 people.

The classes all have different menus, with three different courses; so you can pick and choose which classes fit your taste buds. The classes are typically on Sundays from 2:30-5:00 p.m., but some are offered on Saturday as well.

She also offers private classes (at home and in restaurant); contact Nong at for pricing.

Post by: Ashley M.

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