Despite being one of this country’s favourite takeaway meals, Chinese cookery is still a complete enigma to most of us. With an array of weird and wonderful ingredients to choose from and a melting pot of culinary styles that spans an area pretty much the size of Europe, it shouldn’t come as any real surprise. You only need to spend a few minutes at one of the many Chinese grocery stores in Chinatown to put your mind in a complete spin as you try to negotiate your way through various vegetables, sauces and perhaps most intimidatingly, offal that counts itself as part of the everyday Chinese diet.
Launched to demystify the art of Oriental cuisine, School of Wok makes life a whole lot easier for us regular folk with a passion for cooking. Originally set-up by Jeremy Pang in 2009 as a London-based, mobile cookery school specialising in teaching his students Eastern cuisine in the comfort of their own homes, School of Wok found itself a permanent home in Covent Garden in 2012.
Not just Chinese, the school covers a variety of Asian cuisines, including Japanese, Malaysian and Indian. Classes are also set up to cover all types of interest levels, from 1-hour Quick Fires, to 3 hour basic skill classes, day-long classes and even 5-day-intensive classes. Some of the sessions also include trips to nearby Chinatown where pupils are given an in-depth insight into the key ingredients.
We tried the 3 hour Chinese Cookery session (priced at a reasonable £95/person) and were seriously impressed. Firstly, you can book your class according to the menu that they are cooking, so having seen the different options available, we went for a ‘Wok & Roll’ class, comprising of learning how to cook Spring Rolls, Salt & Pepper Calamari and Stir Fried Beef in Black Bean Sauce.
Budding chefs are put at ease as soon as they walk in with the offer of a beer or wine, whilst the immaculate and bright kitchens make for an inviting place to learn. With small groups of around 10 people, you also get plenty of attention from the teacher. Whilst seemingly basic, our class was actually full of simple tips and insights into the basic ingredients of Chinese cooking (such as how to use the various types of soya sauce) and even a great session on mastering the art of stir fried cooking in a wok.
Totally fun and immersive, the reward was of course that we sat down to eat the spoils of our toils (alongside a couple of well-earned bottles of beer and wine!). So how was it? Entirely delicious of course – I cooked it!
School of Wok
61 Chandos Place
London WC2N 4HG
020 7240 8818