Recently my friend Guilaine and I did a cookery class for a small group of friends. I have blogged some of Guilaine’s recipes before from her year long trip to South America, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. She took cookery classes in Asia and kept a great blog posting each recipe she learnt. So, naturally, the theme for the cookery class was Asian and the menu was:
We started by making the cardamom cakes and while they were baking we chopped chillies and shallots creating a very fiery eye-watering atmosphere. If you wear contacts wear them at this point to avoid weeping! Guilaine had great tips on each dish we cooked (such as wearing contacts to avoid shallot induced weeping!) which she learnt at her authentic cookery classes. Vietnamese spring rolls are one of my favourite dishes to eat when I go to Kingsland Road for good Asian food. My favourite restaurant there is Loong Kee Cafe where the food is consistently great and the service friendly unlike at Song Que where the staff try to boot you out even if you have half a bottle of wine left to drink. Make sure you get square rice paper for the spring rolls as it is much easier to make a secure rolled parcel with them than with circular rice paper. Sayur Lodeh is an Indonesian curry which you can make as mild or as hot as you like – just reduce or increase the amount of chillies you include. Click on the links to see the recipes.
Guilaine says: “The great thing about taking all those cooking classes was that it demystified the difficulty of Asian cooking. It’s actually quite simple. In fact, most dishes can be simplified as following what I call the ‘Principle of the Four S’s': sweet, sour, salty and spicy. It’s all about proportion and of course you can amend quantities to suit your own taste. Once you’ve mastered those elements, the rest is all rather easy, if time consuming. There’s no way around it, Asian cooking involves quite a lot of preparation and lots of chopping. Don’t hesitate to cheat and use a blender if you’re short for time – although there’s nothing like using a pestle and mortar to get the full explosion of flavours – not to mention build up your arm muscles!”