When we first got to Beijing I really thought I would struggle with only eating Chinese food for an entire month and Asian food for four months. Now, although I still crave cheese and proper bread from time to time, within a few days we really got into it and now realise there’s more to Chinese than Kung Pao chicken and egg fried rice.
My new favourite Chinese dish which I’d never tried before is dumplings. A speciality of Northern China they come steamed, boiled or fried and some of the best fillings were garlic vegetables and pork and cabbage. In Xian we ended up in a dumpling restaurant/cafe place with no English words, English speakers or a trusty picture menu and so we had to take a guess and pointed at some random Chinese characters not knowing what would arrive. The plate of pork dumplings that came was massive and only cost about £1. Yum.
In Yangshuo with only a few days left in China I convinced Sam that a Chinese cooking lesson would be fun and we joined 6 other people in the Cloud Nine cooking school. We started off with a trip to the local market to buy the ingredients. There are so many vegetables we don’t recognise, I think we might struggle to get the right things in the Penryn Asda when we get home!
After the vegetable market we went into the meat market, with most of the group opting not to look. Sam and I went for a good look though and, even though I’m not a massive animal lover, found it a bit strange. There we’re dead and live frogs, snails, snakes, chickens, ducks, rabbits and turtles all to buy, as well as, of course, dogs. Apparently dog meat is for special occasions in China and delicious – we didn’t try any. Gemma, don’t bring Oscar here for his first holiday.
When we got back to the school we got stuck into preparing braised aubergines and garlic, Gumbao chicken (a chicken stir fry dish with cucumber, peanuts and chilli) and vegetables dumplings. There is ALOT of chopping and oil involved it seems – and then we got to eat it 🙂 Hopefully we can remember some stuff to cook for people when we get home.
Next stop: Hong Kong for dim sum, then Vietnam for spring rolls. I think I might need to stop eating soon.