Yesterday I went to my first Chinese cooking class. Although I do what I can at home I wanted to check out the real way to cook good Chinese food. We were a group of 10, two celts, two Germans and the rest of the group were American. Our teacher, Mike, was in fact Korean, and not Chinese, so were were truly a multi cultural group.
The class started with a trip to a wet market, much like the one I use, only this one was much bigger. Mike helped out answering our question on some of the more unusual fruits and vegetables, giving us tips on how to prepare and cook them. I love being able to but fresh bamboo shoots, fresh dates and fresh water chestnuts. It's great to see all the rows of neatly arranged produce just waiting to be be turned into something delicious.
Then on past the rows of rice. So many different kinds, one good for sticky rice, another better for fried one for boiled, it goes on and on. I am still experimenting with the different types. It seems they all turn out to be sticky by the time I've cooked them. I'll crack it eventually.
No hard sell here. "Man,man lai" is a phrase they use here which means take it easy, and I think the person photographed here is taking the advice very seriously. Anyway a group of foreigners are probably not going to be his biggest buyers today.
We continued our trip around the market, finding new and interesting things around every corner. Some of the things and smells not so pleasant. But you kind of get used to that here, and it doesn't bother me as it did in the beginning, although few of the ladies were very new to Shanghai and found some things very difficult to deal with. I know it's not how we do things in the west, but it's not so long ago you would find live chickens at markets and be able to buy parts we no longer use, although it seems there is a new revival of nose to tail eating. Easy to find that here.
YES LIVE PIGEONS FOR SALE................
AND YES BELOW IS A SELECTION OF BIRD HEADS FOR YOUR DELECTATION
My husband had duck head for lunch this week, not sure why. He said it tasted fine but here wasn't much eating in it. Really! A big part of the Chinese enjoyment of food it chewing and sucking on bones. Not for me, especially when they are spat out on to the table in front of you. There are things here which I don't think I'll ever get really used to. But it is all a great experience, one I would not have missed.
So as we wandered around, a group of women many meeting each other for the first time, we had fun getting to know each other. Finding what had brought us all to this amazing city, mostly our husbands! We were a group of lucky ladies looking for things to do in our adopted city, and there is never a shortage of things to do. I find the thing is there is almost too much to do, and to see. So meeting at this class meant from the get go we all had something in common, a love of cooking, or for eating, and most of all a wish to become more familiar with the cuisine of Shanghai.
Soon were all back in the kitchen, chopping and preparing. Mike had good English and explained the dishes well. We were cooking Shanghai Noodles, Spicy Green Beans and Mike would demonstrate a Spicy Chicken Stir Fry. It always amazes me at just how few condiments and spices are used to produce the amazing flavours. Garlic, ginger, dried chillies, light and dark soy sauce, pinch of sugar and salt and a shake of pepper are the only flavourings we used. Although in the Shanghai Noodle dish we did put a pinch of five spice. I am always surprised at how few spices are actually used to produce such wonderful flavours.
The green beans were the first dish produced and we all tucked into them. It was surprising how all the dishes tasted a little different depending on how much of the various spices we added. But they all tasted good.
So the afternoon progressed, we were creating new dishes and at the same time making new friendships. I was a great afternoon. All too soon it was time to go our separate ways. We had all gained an insight into new ways of cooking. Some of us would be trying out these dishes as soon as we could. Some of us would probably never cook them, but had enjoyed the company and the fun of the day spent in the company of like minded women. We will probably meet up again at various events and classes, some of us will have made new friend. But whatever people get out of these events one thing is for sure is that they are always fun.
So thank you ladies, and thank you Mike for helping make my time in Shanghai a great one, and for creating another memory of my time spent here.