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Tamarind Cooking School

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Cooking classes have a reputation for being a bit hit and miss in Southeast Asia with some being too technical and fiddly while others being demonstrations with little hands on participation. The cooking school at Tamarind in Luang Prabang however manages to strike a good balance.

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The morning cooking class starts off with a trip to the local market, where one can see where locals purchase their produce on a daily basis. In Luang Prabang, this often happens at the Phousi Market which has a dizzying array of fruit, vegetables, meat, healthcare products, clothing and anything else you can think of that might be needed around the home.

Jeow mak len—Lao tomato dip. Photo taken in or around Tamarind Cooking School, Luang Prabang, Laos by Adam Poskitt.

Jeow mak len—Lao tomato dip. Photo: Adam Poskitt

After the market tour, tuk tuks take guests to Tamarind’s oasis in the countryside about 20 minutes out of town. To the sound of a trickling nearby stream, the cooking class leader, Joy, gives a rundown of the plan for the day. The cooking class is held in a grass-roofed sala in such peaceful surrounds that it seems a shame that anyone has to do anything at all. But after the brief introduction, guests are instructed to grab some ingredients and we immediately start pounding and mixing and are on our way to making our first dish, Lao dips called jeow. Jeow are usually eaten with balls of sticky rice and are deep in flavour, a great entree to the food that is to come.

Next up is larp, that famous dish cooked in both Thailand and Laos. We’re told that there are an infinite number of varieties and that the one we will make will be our own special variety depending on the amounts of each ingredient we choose to use. The first choice is between buffalo and pork. Although many don’t know it, buffalo is served throughout Laos and many a tourist cafe will use the words buffalo and beef interchangeably. After adding some seasoning to our raw mince meat mixture, we head over to the line of Lao braziers to ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Tamarind Cooking School
Kingkitsalath Road, Ban Vat Sene, Luang Prabang
Classes held Mo–Sa 09:00–15:00, costs 285,000 kip. Truncated evening classes (cooking one less dish)
T: (071) 213 128
Admission: 250,000 kip (approx. US$30)

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