This particular session was put together on behalf of Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong-based travel company that was promoting their January sale.
Cathay are really passionate about their food and in-flight catering, being the first airline to install rice cookers on their planes! So if you’re planning on travelling and can’t bear to live without freshly cooked rice, look no further than Cathay. Check out some pics from Cathay’s catering department at London Heathrow, where all the food is prepared for the London-Hong Kong flights – looks pretty tasty to me!
To celebrate Chinese New Year, Cathay are running a flight sale until 20th February, details of which can be found on their website. Their offers include economy-class tickets to Hong Kong from £579, to China from £619 and to Austrialia and New Zealand from £759.
Back to the lesson: when everyone arrived and got their introductions out of the way, Jeremy started off by talking us through what tasty treats we would be whipping up that evening - on the menu were crispy pork won tons and Sichuan chicken.
His famous phrase - “Chinese food is 90% preparation and 10% cooking” - was true to the mark, as we donned our aprons and began prepping the fillings for our won tons and ingredients for our stir fry. With everything organised and spread out between separate bowls, it made things so much simpler and quicker when it came to cooking!
Our won ton filling of pork, chives, dried shitake mushrooms, garlic and spring onion was bound together in the classic Chinese marinade of soy, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar – “if you memorise this marinade, you’ll never go wrong”, explained Jez.
After bashing the meat mixture into our bowls several times – throwing the mix from a height back into the bowl is a clever way of combining the ingredients together to ensure it sticks together when cooked – we got on with folding our won tons. These delicate little pastries were surprisingly easy to put together and we amateurs managed to assemble about two dozen in just a few minutes – not bad for our first go!
Next up, we moved into the kitchen where Jez demonstrated the perfect stir fry before we got our hands on woks ourselves. With all the ingredients laid out at our own individual work stations, we were able to focus solely on stir-frying techniques and perfecting ‘wok hei’, knowing how to manage the ‘height of your fire’ so that you can cool down your wok if things get a little too hot!
Jez and fellow cookery tutor Stefan were always on hand, making sure everyone was getting on ok and helping us master the formidable ‘wok toss’. The dish was full of fiery chilli and spicy Sichuan peppercorns, highly recommended if you need to clear your sinuses!
While all our food was being served up, we were treated to a wine-tasting session by Kiki from pop-up wine company ‘A Grape Night In’. She had hand-picked a collection of wines to complement the dishes we had made, starting off with a wonderful sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from Malborough (coincidentally also called Kiki) to go with the won tons. It was a fruity, citrusy wine that cut through the fatty pork but had a lighter fizz than a Champagne or Prosecco – superb!
Kiki’s laid-back approach to teaching was really refreshing and her passion for wine was contagious. I had never really considered that wine would complement Chinese cuisine so well so was surprised at how much I enjoyed the combinations that she came up with.
We were all stuffed by the end of the evening and had made way too much food but everyone had a great time. That evening’s session was a little different than the usual ‘Quick-Fire Wok’ lessons at School of Wok, which take you through two rapid stir-fries in just one hour. These lessons are run both during the day and in the evening so a great way to either spend a lunch break or learn a thing or two (and get well-fed) on your way home after work.