Wednesday, September 09, 2009

China Girl 4 -Chinese Cooking Class

Today is 09/09/09. I noticed it was coming up yesterday when I was writing the date on a check. G said that it's been a promotion for something starting today but I forgot what he said. I'd call him but he's in a meeting and so that's all I can say about it. My god daughter Katie, who, as you might recall, celebrated her 21st birthday in Vegas with me a while back, was born on 08/08/88 which I always loved. That day is also the day that one of daughters of Sarah Fergeson was born and the first game at Wrigley Field with lights. Why is it that I remember that and don't know where I put my brush this morning?
Susie lined up a Chinese Cooking Class for us to attend. They are a regular thing for Westerners to tip their hand into a little native cuisine. The classes are taught by noted Chef's from the various large hotels.
This was the kitchen where we had our class. The ceiling lighting is courtesy of Ikea, cause I saw them there when we went to the Shanghai Ikea.
This was our chef/instructor. He was a doll and only 28 years old. He speaks fluent English and learned from starting at the bottom of the restaurant business. He also went to culinary school. I don't recall his name; it was Chinese and it's hard for me to grasp the sound. Most of the hotel staff (like the Marriott where I stayed) take on an English name to better communicate.
First up? Apple slices cut in the shape of the Chinese cash coin (the square cut out in the center). These were then soaked in a beer solution.
They look very busy, this mother/daughter team, don't they? The apples are soaking off to the side and up now is the preparation for, what the Chef called ink fish stir fry. Into the mix goes
mostly celery and red pepper with the 'ink fish' which I am 100% sure was not fish at all but rather squid. This is stir fried in various stages and then in a minute or two, voila! You got yourself a stir fry dish.
The last thing that was prepared was a weever fish (never heard of it before but it's all over China). It was slit and gutted but the tiny bones were not removed.

I didn't actually do any cooking. Besides manning the camera, I had a serious bout of car sickness (having not yet adjusted to the time change and driving mania) and so when I arrived I was a little green feeling. That soon went away but then it seemed silly to start after the process was well under way. From where I was sitting, I could see these pigeons coming and going into this little screened in porch and so asked what it was and was told that it was a pigeon coup that is used to raise pigeons to eat. Yum.
This was the stir fry. Very heavy on the celery as you can see and a bit greasy for my taste. The white part is the 'fish'.
This was the final service of the weever fish. Onions were stir fried separately and later added to the presentation. The fish was coated in corn starch and deep fried.; very different from our preparation of fish back home. I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.
The apples were removed from the beer and coated with a cornstarch mixture and they too were deep fried. They ended with a sprinkling of jam. They were quite good.

The class was very fun. What made it so nice is that it was the first time we had an actual Chinese person understand what we were saying and we could ask him questions that he understood. Even Susie's driver doesn't speak or understand much English. We swapped some culinary lingo and some of his background growing up. It was definitely an experience that I would tell any one visiting China to do.

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