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Review and receipes from our Yangshou Cooking School Experience!

This is the first in a series of reviews taken from our experiences of several cooking classes that we participated in whilst travelling through Asia. We’re both foodies and love to explore new cuisine, this could have something to do with creativity. We both love to photograph and create nice imagery and design and we both like to design and create new and exciting food, and then photograph it! It all seems to be very complimentary!!

Whilst on the road, living out of our bags, on buses, trains and in hostels we didn’t get to cook and prepare our own food nearly as much as we would do on an ordinary day back home. In China we were really luck whilst staying in Beijing, we had an apartment for a month which mean’t we could go out and choose our ingredients from the local farmers market, this in itself was such a fantastic experience. Eating out all the time does take it’s toll but this is also part of the experience of exploring a country and it’s delights.

Taking part in a cooking class every so often mean’t we could explore further into the way the region or the country works with their local ingredients and taught us about the principles of their cuisine.It also mean’t we could eat everything we cooked!

We’re going to start with a course that we both loved and rate very highly in our travelling and food experiences. This was at The Yangshou Cooking School in Yangshou, Guangxi Province, China.

Their location on the banks of the Li River is stunning surrounded by karst peaks, bamboo rafts, and tourists! The course we did was a half day class starting at 8am with a local market tour. This is something that is very consistent with cooking courses in Asia, always starting with a market tour to give you an insight into where they source their ingredients from, what is local to the region and the atmosphere of a busy market place can be absorbed. Our chef and guide Kelly picked up on key ingredients that we would use such as bamboo shoots, chilli, chinese mushrooms and chinese eggplant before taking us back to the school.

We were informed about the morning, what we would be cooking and how we would do it. We each had our own cooking station with a wok on a gas stove, our own chopping boards, knives, bowls, oils and sauces for cooking with. The ingredients were portioned out for us and we would then prepare each dish before cooking it. Kelly demonstrated and then we cooked, and then we ate! For the final 4 dishes though we cooked them one by one and then had our own little banquet sat outside with the riverbanks below us – pretty idyllic!

Chinese cooking is all about sharing and dishes are served as a matter of balance. Hot and spicy dishes such as chicken with ginger and chilli should be offset by cooling preparations such as steamed fish or stir fried vegetables. A little bit of Yin and Yang occurs and equal attention should be paid for the balance of the food’s taste, texture, size, shape and aroma.

We had previously noticed how much oil was used in Chinese cooking, but on this particular course there wasn’t quite so much oil used and the dishes were very tastey and true to the Guangxi region. Not all Chinese food is the same, as we travelled from region to region we experienced subtle and strong differences in the presentation, spice, and taste.

There were around 10 of us in the class with a good mixture of young and old, and vegetarians were catered for equally. All in all we learned a lot about the values of Chinese cooking as well as picked up on some new and exciting recipes, which we think we could cook when we’re back in our own kitchen again.


Below are a few of those recipes! We hope you enjoy! Please do let us know if you manage to cook any!

Steamed Stuffed Vegetables

50gms minced pork / use finely chopped firm tofu for vegetarian option
1 tablespoon of Chives – chopped
One quarter teaspoon of salt
Mixed vegetables – peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, courgette,

Mix the mince/tofu, salt and chives together. Stuff vegetables and steam for 15 minutes in a steaming basket. (Can use boiling water in a pan with an oven proof glass bowl instead and place vegetables in the bowl and then cover)

This dish is great as a starter and would be good at a barbeque or for a little tray of canapes!

Beer Fish

100gms fish (firm white with skin on)
2 tablespoons of peanut oil
Half tomatoe – chopped
Half green, half red pepper – sliced
1 tablespoon of sliced garlic tops or spring onions
1 tablespoon ginger – sliced
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 tablespoon of soy saice
Half teaspoon salt
Half glass of beer

Heat the wok, add oil and leave on full heat. Turn down the heat, put fish into work skin down, add salt on top of fish. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes making sure skin is brown. Put all veges, garlic and ginger on top of fish. Pour on soy sauce and beer. Cover with lid and cooking for 5 minutes. Remove lid add spring onions, reduce liquid for 2 minutes. Serve.

This is a really tastey dish indeed!! It’s so easy but we found it’s all about timing, adding the ingredients at the right time. A useful hint on the crushing of garlic – all we did was smash it with a large flat knife and that was that – no extra chopping required.

Eggplant Yangshou Style

100gm eggplant
2 tablesppons of peanut oil
Half red pepper – sliced
One quarter teaspoon of ginger – sliced
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
2 spring onions – sliced
Quarter teaspoon of salt
One teaspoon soy sauce
Half teaspoon oyster sauce

Heat wok and add oil. Heat until oil is smoking and then add eggplant and fry until browned and cooked. Move eggplant to side of wok, reduce heat and fry garlic, ginger and pepper for one minute. Mix eggplant with vegetbales, salt, soy sauce and oyester sauce. Add spring onions. Serve.

All of these dishes are for 2 persons, so double your quantities if you’re cooking for 4!



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  1. Posted 16 Jun ’11 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    That looks delicious!

  2. Posted 16 Jun ’11 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Sounds and looks delicious! I really want to take more cooking classes when I travel. It seems like a great way to learn something new along with a cultural lesson. I will have to try out that eggplant dish.

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