Saturday, February 18, 2017

Thailand on my Plate: A Thai Cooking Class at The Peninsula Manila's Spices

Learn to prepare authentic Thai dishes like Som Tam Marako, Penang Goong, and Khao Niew Ma-Muong and dine under the stars at Spices...

The Peninsula Manila presents Thailand on my Plate, a Thai cooking class on March 3, 2017 at Spices. The cooking class provides guests a rare peek at how the signature dishes of Spices are prepared in an intimate afternoon followed by a sumptuous dinner at the serene outdoor dining area for a unique experience. Read on for a preview of Thailand on my Plate at Spices...

Spices Thai Specialty Chef Phaithoon Atthasarn (L) shares his expertise on Thai cuisine with The Peninsula Academy Cooking Class on March 3, 2017, dubbed Thailand on my Plate. The afternoon class is both fun and informative, as the jovial Chef de Cuisine Phaithoon Atthasarn, or simply Chef Alex, takes you through his dishes.

And what better way to start a cooking class than with a round of Thai-inspired cocktails to get you in the groove. The Makham Delight, a mildly sweet and tart blend of Tequila, spicy sauce, tamarind juice, chili flakes, sugar, and black pepper is smooth and refreshing, finished by a whisper of soothing heat from the spices.

The Som Tum Sling infuses unique Thai flavors in a blend of premium Gin, fresh lime juice, sugar, soda water, green papaya, and red chili for another play on contrasting notes, coming together in a seamless blend with each refreshing sip.

Spices takes on the classic Tom Collins with the wittingly named Tom Khallins, an inventive spin with Gin, lemon juice, coconut cream and spicy red chili for a creamy yet spicy kick. It's the perfect starter to open up your palate for the afternoon's authentic Thai flavors by Chef de Cuisine Phaithoon "Alex" Atthasarn.

After a few rounds of cocktails, Chef Alex laid out the different ingredients and components for his signature Thai dishes, starting with the refreshing Som Tam Marako, a spicy green papaya salad with roasted peanuts. A Thai staple, the traditional salad showcases the full range of flavors Thai cuisine is known for, from sweet to sour, salty and spicy, all in one dish. The freshness of the ingredients gives this dish clean flavors, with each distinct note coming through in a complex blend of rich flavors.

Chef Alex encouraged guests to come up and prepare each component of the dish, while explaining every step of the process in a light yet engaging manner. "A little more," said Chef Alex with a smile, as participants added fiery hot red chili flakes to the mix followed by their nervous laughter.  

Spice, after all, is what defines Thai cuisine. "The spice adds the life..." explained Chef Alex, as he presented his signature Som Tam Marako. The tart sweetness of the green papaya, with its crisp texture, provides the flavorful base for the salad, followed by the distinct salty notes of the fish sauce, the briny hints of dried shrimps, and the sharpness of the lime juice perfectly finished by the soothing heat from the red chili.

Next, Chef Alex prepared his hearty Penang Goong, or Dried Penang Curry with Prawn and Kaffir Lime Leaves. Chef Alex prepared the rich sauce on a pan, adding the dried Penang curry and letting it simmer with coconut cream, releasing a fragrant aroma. The vibrant colors of the dish is a visual cue to the richness of the curry sauce, made with the freshest ingredients for bold yet clean flavors. 

The creamy notes of the coconut milk perfectly tempers the spicy red chili, coating your palate with its richness lingering long after the first bite. The fresh snap of the plump prawns completes the dish, just perfect with steamed white rice.

For dessert, Chef Alex prepared his popular Khao Niew Ma-Muong, the familiar sticky rice dessert with sweet mango slices. From steaming the rice in coconut milk and garnishing with delicately sliced mangoes, Chef Alex presented his plated dessert to the applause of the guests. The Peninsula Academy Cooking Class featured a three-course feast, from a salad starter to a main dish and dessert, presented in a lively, engaging and interactive session with Chef Alex.

At the end of the class, The Peninsula Manila's Executive Chef Franco Diaz and Chef de Cuisine Phaithoon "Alex" Atthasarn awarded certificates of completion to the participants of the Thailand on my Plate preview followed by a round cocktails... Chef Phaithoon Atthasarn and his team prepared our dinner outside the open dining area of Spices.

And there's nothing quite like ending the day outside Spices, surrounded by lush greens with a few more rounds of cocktails. Diners can also opt to go al fresco and Dine Under the Stars at the Spices Garden. From January to February, you can enjoy the cool weather with small plates from the special BBQ grill a la carte menu and a live som tam station every Friday and Saturday from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

The refreshing Spices Gin & Tonic, a soothing blend of gin, soda water, flavored ice with chili, lemon, coriander leaves, cloves, star anise and pink peppercorn garnished with a cinnamon stick was the perfect cocktail for a cool afternoon at the Spices Garden. As the chili-infused ice cubes melt, each sip is followed by a comforting heat, perking up your palate just in time for dinner...

The elegant outdoor set-up at the Spices Garden brings a casual vibe to our dinner under the stars, as Chef Alex would chat with the guests. And with the cool weather, it's just the perfect perfect spot to Dine Under the Stars for another memorable dining experience at The Peninsula Manila.

Our preview of Thailand on my Plate culminates with a sumptuous feast of authentic Thai flavors, starting with dishes the Som Tam Marako, the spicy green papaya salad with roasted peanuts...

...and the tasty Penang Goong, the dried Penang curry with prawns and kaffir lime leaves, prepared fresh from the kitchen, a personal favorite. Seeing how these dishes were prepared during the cooking class added to an overall appreciation of the rich blend of flavors as you savor each bite. Extra rice? yes, please...

The classic Pad Thai was also served, the traditional stir-fried noodle dish...

...and Grilled Tuna and marinated Beef Sirloin served with spicy chili sauce from the Spices Garden's BBQ Station.

As the afternoon light slowly faded, the warm glow of the outdoor lights transform the tropical garden to complete our dinner experience. The Peninsula Academy's Thailand on my Plate Cooking Class is perfect for those who want to hone their Thai cooking skills and appreciate authentic Thai flavors, and there's no better place to learn all these, and have fun as well, than at The Peninsula Manila's Spices.

One more round for the road at The Bar, with the classic Old-Fashioned, ends another perfect day at The Peninsula Manila.

Take home a taste of Thailand with The Peninsula Manila's indulgent Thai-inspired Macarons in Coconut Pandan, Tom Yum, Kaffir Lime, Thai Mik Tea, Green Curry, and Mango Jasmine flavors. The Thailand on my Plate Thai Cooking Class is set for March 3, 2017 at The Peninsula Manila's Spices from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm for only P 2,017 net which includes a traditional Thai-style family dinner in Spices, The Peninsula Academy apron, and a special gift. But better hurry, only 15 slots are available for Thailand on my Plate with Chef Phaitoon "Alex" Atthasarn. Call and sign up now and learn to prepare traditional Thai dishes with Chef Alex for a unique taste of authentic Thai flavors, see contact details below. Here's a preview of the The Peninsula Academy with Chef Phaitoon Atthasarn's recipes...

Som Tam Marako
Spicy Green Papaya Salad with Roasted Nut


100 g Green Papaya
2 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Palm Sugar
2 tbsp Roasted Peanuts
2 tbsp Dried Shrimp
1 pc Tomato
10 g String Beans
10 g Carrots
3 pc Small Chili
1 tsp Garlic

  • Remove the skin of the green papaya and then use a grater to make fine slices. Soak in cool water for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Using a separate bowl, make the sauce by pouring lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Mix until the palm sugar dissolves. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and chili then add to the mixture.
  • Strain the grated green papaya and add in the sauce mixture.
  • Add the dried shrimp, sliced tomato, string beans, carrots then toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Transfer in a plate then sprinkle with chopped roasted peanuts.
Penang Goong
Dried Penang Curry with Prawn and Kaffir Lime Leaves


1 tbsp Dried Penang Curry
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
28 g Small Prawn
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Palm Sugar
5 g Sliced Red Chili
5 g Sweet Basil
1 tbsp Roasted Crushed Peanuts
3 g Kaffir Lime Leaves

  • Using a sauce pan on medium heat, add oil and cook the dried Penang curry for a few minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer then add water.
  • Season with fish sauce and palm sugar to taste. Simmer over low heat until the prawns are cooked.
  • Add sliced chili, sweet basil and peanuts.
  • Transfer the mixture in a serving plate and garnish with sliced chili and kaffir lime leaves.
Khao Niew Ma-Muong
Ripened Mango Topped on Sticky Rice
2 cups Sticky Rice Grains 
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 pc Pandan Leaf
1 pc Ripe Mango
  • Soak the sticky rice grains in water for 3 hours, then strain.
  • Lay the sticky rice in a muslin cloth and steam until cooked.
  • In a sauce pan, pour the coconut milk, pandan, sugar, salt and bring to a boil.
  • Add the sticky rice in the coconut milk mixture. Mix until sticky rice is incorporated with the coconut milk. Cover and rest for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Peel the ripe mango and remove the seed. Slice into pieces.
  • Scoop the sticky rice in a bowl and serve with mango slices.
Spices is located at The Peninsula Manila, Ayala corner Makati Avenues, 1226 Makati City. For inquiries on The Peninsula Academy Cooking Class, Thailand on my Plate, you can call +63 (2) 887-2888, extension 6694 (Restaurant Reservations), or email You can also visit for more updates and information.

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