Hell’s Chinese Kitchen

Last week a few of us from school signed up for a cooking class. When we arrived we were greeted by the chef who took us on a tour of a wet market. At first my imagination thought of a Chinese wet market as a gross, smelly, crowded place filled with meats and unusual items. It wasn’t any of those things. The closest thing I can compare it to is a Farmer’s Market. The majority of things here were fresh produce… and the colours were so bright and vibrant. No waxes, colours or half ripened fruits or vegetables here. One thing I notice about China is the food has more flavour than I have ever tasted… a sign of freshness and not something that was picked early, shipped before it had a chance to reach its full flavour and then pumped full of colours and dyes to trick us into believing its freshness.

The Vibrant Coloured Fruit at the Wet Market

More Colourful Produce

There were a few butchers with fresh fish, live chickens and ducks (that they would prepare for you while you wait – no messy work not to mention NOW THAT IS FRESH) and a “pharmacy” where dried roots, lizards and seahorses would be ground into a medicinal concoction. Interesting shaped jars held rice wine vinegar and another stall housed noodle makers. As we looked around wide-eyed and took it all in the locals viewed us with the same awe and wonder. We looked at a variety of interesting and different fruits and veggies including white radish and long skinny egg-plant.

When we had all our ingredients we returned to the kitchen and prepared to cook. Our chef quickly told us he was just like Gordon Ramsey and if we didn’t follow his lead or do a good job he would kick us out if his kitchen! We soon learned our Shanghainese Chef had a very good sense of humour, some sarcasm and understood Western jokes. It made the experience all the more fun as we giggled and joked.He tasted our work and awarded Cathy with first place. This was no surprise to us. Since she poured in 2 heaping tablespoons of rice wine instead of the 2 drops which she then switched her dish for the chef’s when he left for a minute, but before that she sabotaged mine and poured some extra in my bowl! Good thing there was no voting here or I may have been sent home ;)-

We cooked a chicken dish as well as mushrooms with Bok choy and Shanghai noodles. I don’t know if I could do it again on my own, but it was fun. The biggest problem may be finding the right ingredients since I can’t read Chinese! I won’t know if I am buying soya sauce, some black bean sauce or worse some fermenting fish sauce. Most of the cooking is done in a wok and it is fast, which is great with a busy work schedule. Most kitchens here do not have ovens and if your apartment does it must mean it was made to cater to Westerners or a Westerner has previously lived there. Out of all the school apartments we are one of the few that has an oven. Seems if you have an oven then you miss out on a bathtub. A simple thing I sometimes miss.

My Culinary Adventure

A Spicy Kunghao Chicken

We eat out a lot since it seems to be cheaper than buying all the ingredients. We will have to start shopping at the wet market! Although there you must bargain for the best price and I am sure we will never get the same price the locals do.Sometimes it is just easier and faster to go to the supermarket where things are already priced out.

Everyone enjoyed the class and we all may sign up for more. Thanks Chef Mike — a shout out to you.

Stay tuned for more next time…

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Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , ,

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8 thoughts on “Hell’s Chinese Kitchen

  1. I’ve randomly selected your blog for The Awesome Blog Content Award. Congratulations.
    http://laavventura.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/awesome-blog-content-award-the-abcs/

    • Thanks Jennifer 🙂
      I write for fun, but it is nice to be recognized too. A few posts I wrote since the summer I hoped maybe would be Freshly Pressed… that would be cool. This was a nice surprise though and even better!
      Thanks again for the selecting my blog for the contest.

  2. Freda Goulet

    Sounds like a fun learning experience. The food looks like food I might eat. You are right, the colors of the fruits and vegetables are very vibrant.
    Thanks for the peek at “real” Chinese cuisine.

    • It was really good.

      I was just randomly selected for the ‘awesome blog contest’ for this post 🙂 Very exciting! I have been trying to get “Freshly Pressed” on a few posts, since last summer, so it is on Word Presses main page… this was a surprise though.

  3. Freda Goulet

    Congrats, Diana. You richly deserve this award! Your blogs are great…great description, great topics, interesting and informative. You should think about writing a book someday.

    • Too funny… John just said the same thing after reading the last blog. No time though… life of a teacher is always busy and the ‘TO DO’ list always gets longer, never shorter! Maybe one day when life slows down to a more normal pace and I feel bored. Hee hee.

      PS what do you think of the new ‘look’? It is called “travel journal” (I think, but it looks like one)

  4. Leslie

    Yummmy! As much as I enjoyed eating at the Mandarin for Josh’s birthday dinner I’m sure your meal tasted even better.
    I remember Dad cooking some amazing ‘real’ Chinese food after he spent time in China. {growl…sound effect from my hungry tummy}
    Make sure to take more classes! I know where a Chinese store is here at home. {hint hint}

    • Hey, When John comes home I want him to come too… he will be better at remembering how to do these things than I. This week everyone is going to make the dumplings filled with soup… not sure yet if I will go because it will be a late night after school. Plus these are not my favourite… I would rather learn something I enjoy eating and would maybe try to make again.

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