We alway had it in our heads that we were going to do some cooking classes on our trip. Hey, why not, we do like food and cooking.
On our way into Dali we picked up a flyer about a class called Rice & Friends. Okay then, time to go back to school.
We met our teacher, Luxi, near a small market on the day of the class. As most classes I have read about seem to do the day was started with a market shopping tour. This is something I do enjoy, especially after being in a place for a little while where the number of market question starts building up. What the hell is that yellow stuff?
We trundle through the market getting loaded up with ingredients, which go in our supplied baskets.
This market was only small, but was also the one where all the restaurants did their shopping, so had everything you need to create some tasty Chinese food.
Mmm, look at that chili.
After we had collected all the items we required we walked a couple of blocks back to the teachers house where we were confronted with a cooking station each, oh I was planning to just going to watch and eat. Okay, its only a wok and some flame Roy, you’ll be fine. Maybe if I was home alone as usual when I get my wok on, but people watching make me much more flammable.
The first dish we would be attempting was something not too dangerous; Tofu Salad.
As you can see above, the ingredient list was not too complex for this one. But the ingredient list was not the tricky bit, the dressing was the bit that required both finesse and a good sense of taste. The dressing was a mix of sweet, sour and salty. Balancing these tastes is not something we put a lot of thought or practice into with western cooking, so it was helpful to have someone to taste and help us adjust the mix and explain the balance required.
The tofu was also amazingly fresh and tasty.
Okay, wok time it is.
The next dish we cooked was fish flavoured eggplant. No, there isn’t any fish in it, it just uses flavouring commonly used when cooking fish.
Here once again the technique with the sauces was the key, as well as way you cook different bits and put it all together at the end.
The final dish of the day was Kung-Pow Chicken.
Szechwan pepper and peanuts, yes please.
This version was quite mild, but then again we were a bunch of westerners, best to play it safe. The trick to this was getting the Szechwan pepper flavour to permate the dish by sucking the flavour out into the oil first.
Yep, my tongue was pretty numb after this one.
I feel cooking classes will be a little hit and miss for us as we already know so much about Asian cuisine, but its the little tricks that you pick up on that make a class like this so valuable.
We really enjoyed our day of cooking with Rice & Friends, and especially enjoyed the beautiful setting in a local Dali courtyard.