Learn to be a Wokstar! Chinese cooking lesson at School of Wok
Cooking Chinese food can seem a bit daunting. There’s all that chopping for a start, not to mention getting all the ingredients right. It is however on my foodie bucket list – get a Chinese cookery lesson from an authentic Chinese chef. So when the opportunity arose to tick something off my bucket list I jumped at the chance. School of Wok was started by celebrity chef Jeremy Pang and is based in Covent Garden. I was going for a 3 hr class, learning how to cook proper Chinese cuisine with 11 other like-minded individuals. Yes people, I was about to become a wokstar!
Arriving at the appointed time for my class, Jeremy was on hand to welcome us all. There was a long wooden table set with everything we would need for our lesson including a copy of Jeremy’s book to give you some inspiration at home. I donned my apron and waited for my first demo. Jeremy skilfully showed us how to chop various vegetables using a Chinese cleaver (no small kitchen knives here, we’re going big time!). Then it was our turn. Normally, being rather competitive, I would want to finish first but Jeremy assured me, slow and steady will get me the proper technique. And he was right. My vegetables were cut pretty neatly and delicately (and I still nearly finished first, sorry, I cant help it). The vegetables we were cutting were going to be used to make our first dish – dumplings!
After filling up our bowls with deliciously enticing herbs and vegetables it was on to the next part of our lesson. How to shape a traditional dumpling. We all watched as dumpling were easily shaped and then had a go ourselves. For some it was tricky to start but I reckon we all pulled off some pretty good lookin’ dumplings by the end.
The dumplings would be cooked up for us whilst we were learning how to make Black Bean Beef. First we had to learn how to make a wok clock, a term trade-marked by the school. This is where you chop up all your ingredients and place them around a plate (or board) in the order that you will use them in cooking. Here’s mine….
Once everyone had prepared their clocks it was time for the most exciting bit – getting let loose in the kitchen. Chef showed us how to cook our beef dish and then it was our turn. Time to let my inner wokstar out! We worked in pairs, each playing a part in making our dishes come together. It was hot, it was fast cooking, it was great!
When all was said and done in the kitchen and everyone had cooked their delicious smelling beef, we all returned to our ‘classroom’. Whilst we had been feverishly bent over hot woks someone had come in and cleaned up, laying the table ready for our Chinese feast. It was a very pretty sight to come out to, fresh flowers, candles and the ever present colour of red for good luck. It was great to be able to sit down with my fellow classmates, talk about what we had learnt and to eat the fruits of our cooking lesson. I definetly learned some new skills and loved every minute of it. Having a chat with Jeremy afterwards, I found out that there are a variety of lessons available from one-off classes like the one I had just had to 5 day classes learning the intricacies of Chinese cooking on a more comprehensive scale.
I don’t think I’ve had a more fun cookery lesson for a long time. Chef’s passion and professionalism are second to none and he’s also a lot of fun – who else would photo-bomb my cooking picture lol? I was so enthused I even went home and made dumplings the next day from scratch – including the pastry. Chef Jeremy – I think you have definitely created another wokstar – now, where’s my cleaver?