On Sunday I was able to attend a cooking demonstration. One of the best Chinese Restaurants in Pretoria (Jasmine Palace in Constantia Park), allowed about 10 of use to see and partake of some dishes in 2 hours. We were all asked to bring our own knives and cutting boards.
Mr. Lee the Chef, started off by showing us the proper way to peel and pare a pineapple. I will try that the next time I have one. His knife was very sharp… and that is an understatement!!! The peel just slid off the pineapple.
The first dish up was Sweet and Sour Bean Curd (Tofu). The peeled pineapple wound up in this. He shared a few other techniques on cutting/chopping ingredients… but I was not the photographer, but I did bring the camera.
Getting to the finished dish took about 45 minutes. We were going to do 5 dishes… and I was beginning to fret that we would be here much longer than 2 hours or not get them all done… not sure which was more worrisome… We didn’t start until 3 and were supposed to be finished by 5.
The Sweet and Sour sauce was not part of the lesson… he did give us a verbal run down on the ingredients. He said he makes 60 liters a week, so he gave us a recipe for a weeks worth of sauce at home. The ingredients started with 1 liter of vinegar…. and well you get the idea!
Second was Spicy Calamari. This is where the knives came in handy. Mr. Lee gave us each a Squid Tube and showed us how to open them. Some of the funny faces when handling the tube were really worth the price of admission!!! The kitchen we were working in was above the restaurant. You can see Mr. Lees cooking station with most of the ingredients ready and I am in the back row… middle blue shirt.
Next we scored the inside of the tube, first one way and then the next, think crosshatch. The crosshatching encouraged the way the calamari curled when in the hot oil.
The final part was cutting it into long triangles. Mr. Lee then made a flavored marinade… then starched the calamari and then into the hot oil.
He set the calamari aside to drain and moved right into the Spicy Pork Chops. Which were done about the same as the calamari, then he spiced them both up and put them on platters.
The ‘spice’ in the Calamari and Pork Chops was… really simple- garlic, scallion tops and red peppers, but the flavor was awesome!
One of the dishes I was happy to see him show us was Chow Mein with a sauce. One of the secrets was using pre-cooked chicken (I really like veggie style Chow Mein), I will use the pre-cooked chicken in the future with Stir-fry….
The last dish was Kung Pao Chicken!!! When it was finished Mr. Lee said it wasn’t TOO Spicy. If that was mild…. I don’t think I could even contemplate HOT. It wasn’t too hot for me, but I don’t think I would enjoy it much hotter than it was. The heat didn’t last long which was good, but it did make our eyes water while he was cooking it. (The Chow Mein is in the background).
By the time we were finished I was full!!! The food was delicious and I can’t wait to try some of the dishes at home, well ok… the calamari is not on the top of my list- but the Spicy Pork Chops, Kung Pao, Chow Mein and Sweet and Sour will have to be done!!! Oh and we were done a bit before 5!
The next demonstration/class will be cuisine from India!