One of the coolest things you can do while visiting a different country is taking a cooking class to explore the local cuisine and learn a bit more about the culture through foods and smells that are foreign to you.
My experience preparing these delicious gluten free spring rolls at the stunning Anantara Layan in Phuket is definitely one that’s hard to forget, and, if possible, it got me to fall in love with Thai people a little bit more.
The day I show up at “Dee Plee”, the Thai restaurant set on a cliff of Anantara Layan overlooking the most breathtaking view over the Andaman Sea, I am left speechless before the cooking class even starts.
As I step into this gorgeous outdoor restaurant, I find the most artistically presented food platters I have ever seen, showcasing all the exotic ingredients we would have used to cook, together with some edible ornaments that are simply placed there for the sake of making everything beautiful.
Take a look at this “dove” shaped out of a turnip, laying over a colorful bed of miniature Thai eggplant, green peppercorn and ginger roots. It’s only there to complete the presentation of the different varietals of local rice, and serves no other purpose than pleasing the eye.
Thai food presentation and the art of vegetable and fruit carving are renowed for being one of the most exquisite in the world. They were originated in the Sukhothai Kingdom nearly 700 years ago to please the King of Siam, and then ended up permeating the entire culture, from royal banquets to family dinners.
Ever since one of my friends in Bangkok explained to me that Thai and Italian food cultures are quite similar in terms of their approach to food, I always notice the immense pride Thai people bring into the way they serve their dishes. From the most sophisticated restaurant to a humble food cart, the aesthetic aspect of food is never neglected.
And the setup of my cooking class with “Spice Spoons”, the Anantara Cooking School, did nothing but exceed the expectations I had towards the gorgeously arranged Thai meals.
Chef Noon, together with her staff, welcomes me with the prettiest drink: an iced butterfly pea flower drink (purposely made without any sugar for me) that changes color from blue to purple when you squeeze in a little lime juice.
And, since I am so intrigued by this colorful flower, the Chef brings out some fresh butterfly pea buds so that we can use them to decorate the gluten free spring rolls we are about to make… and, last thing we know, we’ll end up creating a little competition among me, Chef Noon and Alec about who styled the cutest dish, as you can see in the video below.
Needless to say, under the supervision of a Thai Chef who cooks in a 5 Star resort, our gluten free spring rolls with tamarind dip couldn’t be anything but delicious!! And they made for the perfect starter of our hand made healthy dinner!
Yes, you read that right: even though Thai food can sometimes be heavy and quite saucy, Anantara, who also boasts an amazing detox program called “Anantara Balance”, allows their guests to design the menu of their cooking class according to their dietary preferences, hence for us everything was made with no sugar, gluten nor dairy!
Just like the amazing Sea Bass Wrapped in Banana Leaf that we cooked as our main… but I’ll save that story for another post!
Gluten Free Spring Rolls with Tamarind Dip from the Chef at Anantara Layan (GF, DF, SF)Ambra Torelli
For the Gluten Free Spring Rolls:
- 4 sheets Rice Paper
- 80 gr Carrot cut in thin sticks
- 60 gr Cucumber cut in thin sticks
- 1 small piece Spring onion
- 15 Mint Leaves
- 1 pinch Thai Coriander
- 2 sprigs Sweet Thai Basil
- 120 gr White Cabbage thinly sliced
- 120 gr Green Lettuce green thinly sliced
For the Tamarind Dip:
- 6 tbsp Tamarind Paste
- 1 tsp Palm Sugar or Coconut Sugar
- 2 tbsp Coconut Aminos or GF Soy Sauce if you can tolerate Soy
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1 tbsp White Sesame Seeds roasted
For the Gluten Free Spring Rolls:
- Start by soaking one of the rice sheets in lukewarm water until it becomes soft and slightly sticky. Place the sheet onto a dry plate or cutting board.
- Place all the vegetables in a row across the center of the rice sheet, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. Fold the uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper, beginning at the end with the lettuce until it’s thigh and sticks together.
- Repeat these steps with the remaining ingredients and when all of your gluten free spring rolls are done, cut each one of them in four pieces.
For the Tamarind Dip:
- Heat up the sesame oil in a small saucepan, when it starts to sizzle, add in all the other ingredients I and mix well until the sauce reaches a boil.
- Allow your tamarind dip to cool down and serve it together with your gluten free spring rolls.
I am sure you are going to love the recipe for these authentic Thai gluten free spring rolls (…that tamarind dip is everything imo!!) and I hope that this article and vlog made you dream a little about exotic islands and that got you travel with your imagination through the sweet and delicious flavors of Thailand!
Until next time!
Born and raised in Italy, Ambra is a healthy recipe developer, food and travel writer with a passion for healthy living and wellness. She is the founder of 'Little Bites of Beauty" and the author of the cookbooks "Healthy Italian Desserts Made Simple" and "The AIP Italian Cookbook". She shares her daily food & travel adventures on her Instagram @LittleBitesofBeauty