After the negativity of my two last posts, let’s start again on a good note.
One of my two most favourite things I did in Beijing was a cooking class with a wonderful organisation called The Hutong, aptly situated in a hutong (traditional Chinese alley). The Hutong is a cultural-sharing organisation which was founded 9 years ago by a couple of Chinese-Australians and Chinese-New-Zealanders. As well as hosting a variety of cooking classes and cultural experiences for foreigners, The Hutong works within the local community and runs a varied programme of activities for Beijing schools, from migrant school exchanges to creative arts classes.
One evening I navigated my way over to The Hutong for a dumpling making class. I can’t really describe how great their space is, from their beautiful roof terrace to their big airy kitchen space and dining area, all intricately decorated. I would have lived there given the chance.
In my class there were eight other people, so a perfect size. I met people from America, Germany, France and a pair of British girls who were living in Beijing. Our teacher for the evening was the lovely Yao.
I won’t talk you through the step-by-step dumpling making process but it was a lot of fun and rather messy. (But I think that was just me… My dumplings were also quite odd shapes but it was fine – we mixed all the dumplings together so you couldn’t tell which ones belonged to who!). We each paid 300RMB for the 2 and a half hour session. The cooking element lasted just under two hours and the remaining time was left for us to eat our dumplings! Mmmm. We made a pork-based one and a mixed vegetable/tofu one. During the class you get free-flow soft drinks and water, which is great – cooking is thirsty work!
The Hutong’s ayi had also made us a smashed cucumber salad to accompany our dumplings which was super delicious. And we even got given a pack of recipe cards to take with us! I’ll definitely be making dumplings and salad when I get home. Yao also gave us some ideas about other kinds of dumplings we could make, from savoury to sweet. The Hutong also had a selection of things you could buy like kitchen equipment, tea, spices etc. I got myself some apple and cinnamon tea balls.
I had such a great evening at The Hutong, met some lovely people, learnt lots about Chinese cooking and came away with a happy tummy. Make sure you check out their classes if you find yourself in Beijing! Link is here: http://thehutong.com