Yangshuo is well known for its courses. That is, classes you can take after you’ve enjoyed all the beautiful scenery. There are calligraphy course, language courses, tai chi courses and cooking courses. Guess which one us little piggies took.
Despite not ever cooking at our apartment (it is cheaper to eat out) Ryan has been dying to learn some of the tricks behind Chinese cooking. The course we took was located out in a rambling farmhouse out in the countryside. We were going to make 5 dishes each and after we cooked it, we had to eat it. So while Ryan was a little excited I was a little nervous. Me? Cut with a knife? Cook on a wok? Eat the food I make?!?
I shouldn’t have been nervous as it was really cooking for dummies. We each had our own station and everything was portioned out and laid out so throwing it all together was a snap. I even found myself enjoying it.
The first dish we made was a delicious steam chicken thing. We cut the chicken (we had bought all the food, including the meat, at the market in the morning) and added some ginger, garlic, mushrooms, wolfberries and dried dates. Then we laid one steamer on top of the other and just forgot about it. It sat steaming as we cooked the rest of the food and when it was time to eat it was steamed to absolute perfection.
My favorite dish was the egg covered dumplings. The inside was a typical and delicious minced pork filling (which we added mint and salt) and the outside was plain old scrambled egg.
We turned the wok on, let it get hot enough to steam (a secret of Chinese cooking) then added a tablespoon of oil. We poured one large spoonful of the scrambled eggs and it naturally spread into a circle. We put the meat in the center of the egg, pressed it down a bit, and with the spatula folded over half the egg which had hardened by this time. It was that simple.
We then moved it to the side of the wok while we did it 4 more times. We continued to turn them over a few times and pressed them to make sure the insides were getting well cooked and then we were done! The whole process was quick, no more than 10 minutes from turning on the wok to eating it, but it was really, really delicious.
The other dishes were an eggplant dish (I hate eggplant at home but I eat it all the time here) a cooked lettuce dish (sounds gross but it was delish) and a veggie shred with pork pieces. I managed to chop all the meat and vegetables without once ever slicing open a finger and use a wok at high heat without burning off my eyebrows. I’m very proud.
Eating all the food was so good and Ryan and I (okay, mostly Ryan) will use a bunch of the tricks we learned in the future when we try to cook at home a little more. It was a delicious afternoon and really fun. I never thought I would say that about cooking!