Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t cook! One Thanksgiving, I made a turkey only to cut it open and find no meat, just bones, and my chocolate chip cookies? Well, I just call them blackened! However, I must say I “amazingly” was the top chef in our Chinese Cooking Class today! Never mind I traded my bowl of chicken with that of Gordon Ramsay’s while he was out of the room, but that’s beside the point! (He wasn’t really Gordon Ramsay, but the Chinese version instead)
Now let me say that I traded my bowl of chicken with his BEFORE it was cooked, so it wasn’t the chef’s cooked food that caused me to win the cook off, it was just his bowl of chicken that was diced a little better than mine!
But let me back up to before we began cooking. We had to get our ingredients so we took a tour of the local wet market. It was one of the bigger ones, which included two floors of fruits, vegetables, meats of all kinds, seafood, pajamas and a pharmacy inclusive of lizard on a stick for all your ailments!
There were even “100 year old eggs.” Yes, old eggs! They are not REALLY 100 years old, but made to look like it. Duck eggs are placed in soy and salt and a few other things, then placed in the soil for one month for preservation. The yolk becomes dark green in color, with a creamy consistency, while the white part of the egg turns to jelly, and along with the odor of sulphur how could you pass by one of these delicacies? YUM!
Since our chef, Chef Mike was a regular at the market, he got the best prices! As for us westerners, the prices are higher! But how can they raise the price if they use the same scale for weighing our things as theirs? Hmmmm, curious I must say! Anyway, we used him to purchase a few things for us at his Chinese discount! I finally found cilantro and got some asparagus, garlic shoots, and a good price.
After purchasing a few things for our lunch, we headed back to the kitchen. It was kind of like Hell’s Kitchen, not because it was hot, but because it was so cold, in fact…FREEZING in there! We reluctantly took off our coats, donned our new aprons, washed our hands and began slicing, dicing and mixing our ingredients.
Our first dish was Kongbao Chicken. We diced the chicken and seasoned with salt, sugar, pepper, cooking wine, cornstarch and oil. We fried it with ginger, chopped garlic, chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and water. Adding peanuts to the final 30 seconds of frying made for a deliciously wonderful Kongbao chicken lunch.
Our next dish was mushrooms with oyster sauce. I was not the master chef on this one, as he said I added too much sugar. We were in a type of assembly line, passing the ingredients down the line to add to our woks, when it hit me, that I only added what the person beside me told me to add. HMMMM, was she (Tammy) jealous that I had won the previous contest so she sabotaged my mushrooms by telling me to add too much sugar!? NOOO, not Tammy, my fellow American and neighbor.
Though my mushrooms weren’t the winning dish this time, Chef Mike told me they were still excellent. Besides, being American, Tammy and I both liked our mushrooms with an extra added sweetness! We probably could have poured on more sugar and it would have tasted even better. I might add too, that Tammy is REALLY the cook in the neighborhood, and often invites me over for some great American dinners with her family.
Our final dish was Shanghai Noodles. This meal consisted of adding dark soy sauce, black mushroom sauce and pork, salt, sugar, and starch to the noodles in the wok. We didn’t get to slice the pork. Thank goodness, because I didn’t take any bandaids with me. Anytime I get around sharp knives, I usually slice my finger. I cannot believe how thin he was able to slice that pork! Amazing!
After frying our meal, it was all about the presentation. We arranged the mushrooms into a pineapple shape, while the chicken was piled nicely on a plate garnished with spring onions. The noodles were arranged on the plate with the pork on top. Beautiful. Somehow, my dishes never look like this at home, and most likely I will not be able to repeat any of these recipes again.
Though, if i can find the ingredients, I am going to try to make the chicken and mushrooms at home, anyone want to come for dinner? If I burn it, there is always Sherpa’s Delivery.
See you at the dinner table.