School of Wok is an Oriental and Asian cooking school in central London and only a few mins away from Chinatown. Offering an array of cooking demos and lessons to amateurs and advanced cooks, I was lucky enough take part in the popular Dim Sum class.
A group of 15 cooks gathered around the set tables donning our aprons and mesmerised by the size of the cleaver in front of us.
Our teacher Stefan took us through the running order of the lesson, giving us top tips including how to peel ginger using a teaspoon or soak garlic in water to peel more easily.
On the menu today was:
Flavours of China Dim Sum Delicacies
Prawn & Chive Gyoza – Chinese dumplings pan fried and stuffed with minced prawn and chopped chives.
Steamed Siu Mai – Mini morsels of minced chicken and pork flavoured with garlic, coriander and soy.
BBQ Spare Ribs – sticky sweet ribs marinated in soy, ketchup, sugar and chilli.
Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf – soft sticky rice steamed within a perfumed lotus leaf.
Up first were the BBQ ribs as they would need the longest time to cook. We finely chopped garlic and ginger with the cleaver keeping the tip firmly on the board and chopping in a back and forth motion to prevent any loss of fingers.
The chopped garlic and gingers were generously spindled over tray of ribs which were smothered in hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy, vinegar, sugar and oil. Time to get your hands dirty and mix mix mix!!!
Into the oven the ribs went and then onto the Gyozas, Chinese dumplings filled with chopped spring onions, chives, mushrooms, garlic, gingers and smushed prawns – first pounded with the flat side of the cleaver, slide across the board then chopped.
Everything is mixed together throughly and a small spoonful is placed into a flat dough disc.
Wet the edges of the circle and carefully fold the bottom centre over the filling to form a semi circle and pinch the top tight. Pinch the 2 corners of the semi circle together leaving 2 symmetrical ‘Mickey Mouse ear’ shapes between your centre fold and the corner folds.
Now pinch the ears in towards you to make 4 layered folds, it now looks like a frog. Tidy up the to create a ‘half moon’ shape so that the dumplings sit easily on a plate.
Pan fry with a small amount of oil then add some water and stick a lid on and let them steam until golden brown on both sides.
Onto the glutinous rice, sticky soft rice soaked in water for 2 hours and in a stock and seasoned with salt and pepper.
A heap scoop of the cooked rice onto a flat lotus leaf which has also been soaked in water for an hour.
The meat (chicken and chinese sausage) are marinated in Chinese rice wine, dark and light soy, teaspoon of corn starch and salt.
Once cooked chop the meat mixture and add a smaller heap on top of the rice topping that with more rice and wrap up the leaf like a parcel.
Put into a bamboo steamer for 15 – 20mins. The rice and meat is perfumed with the scent of the leaf, a cross between tea and tobacco.
Finally the steamed Siu Mai (an open wonton) with minced pork and prawn and chopped Chinese mushrooms are mixed together by hand. Trick is to scoop the meat then slap it back into the bowl to create a smoother texture.
A small spoonful is placed into the centre of the wonton and pushed down with a spoon to ensure all the meat stays in the parcel.
Turn the pastry with your left hand to using your thumb and index finger to form a circle – (create an ‘egg cup’ shape with your left hand and allow the pastry to keep spinning around the egg cup whilst pushing with your spoon).
It was easier said that done! but with everything comes practice. The Sui Mai is placed in a bamboo steamer for 10 – 12mins.
After 3 hours of cooking, chopping and steaming it was time to enjoy the fruits of labour and EAT! and compliments to the chef! Every dish significantly fantastic is taste and flavour.
Stefan was a brilliant, patient and educational teacher full of helpful hints and tips. School of Wok classes are an ideal Christmas gift for a foodie or a keen cook, great to do as a couple or on your own.