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Chinese cooking the K’Wok way

Where do you go for good Chinese food in Leicester? To satisfy my cravings, I went to Kwoklyn Wan’s (K’Wok’s) Cookery School to learn how to make some Chinese takeaway classics.

The best thing about the cookery school is that Kwok has the flexibility of setting up shop, or rather school, wherever he pleases. Today armed with mobile gas cookers, he’s teaching from The White Rose Café next to Leicester’s Cathedral.

Learning his trade under his father, Papa Wan, Kwok happily recalls memories of his childhood spent working in the kitchen. “Food is in my blood” he says and it’s pretty evident by the repertoire of recipes he wants us to get through today. We’re covering three dishes today – wontons, shrimp fried rice, chicken yuk sung as well as a wonton broth and sweet and sour sauce. I’m joined by two other students so we’re able to work at more or less the same pace.

Chinese food is on my list of favourites so I’m eager to learn as much as I can, and Kwok is only too happy to help. Working on small tables we’re a little limited on space but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. To save time, everything is measured out and ready for us to grab and go. We kick off the class with the wontons. Kwok talks us through what to do and we start following his easy instructions. Before we know it, we’ve chopped and cooked our chicken and prawns and filled our wontons to look like ‘Chinese money’.

Once boiled (they can also be steamed) we move onto making our broth. Today we’re making  a quick chicken broth using an Oxo cube, soy sauce, pinch of pepper and a thumb piece of ginger and boy does it pack a punch. We pour it over our wontons, sprinkle some spring onions into the broth and tuck in.

My boiled parcels are all intact, taste delicious and the broth finishes it off perfectly. If i could, I’d probably throw in some bean sprouts and noodles too.

Feeling buoyed by the success of our wontons, the class eagerly moves onto chicken yuk sung. We chop and fry the chicken and as our woks sizzle, the cafe starts to heat up but we’re cool as cucumbers thanks to Kwok. He’s full of tips to save time in the kitchen – ever tried whisking an egg with chopsticks or running cold water under a lettuce to loosen the leaves to peel off?

We remove the chicken and clean our woks with a paper towel (never scrub your wok). We then add water chestnuts into the pan and cook until slightly browned, add the rest of the yuk sung ingredients into the wok, throw the chicken back in and stir. When ready, we serve a generous spoonful into a lettuce leaf with some fried vermicelli rice noodles for garnish and texture. The crunch from the green leaves combined with the juicy chicken is so satisfying and I’m seriously impressed by the flavour you get with each bite.

Lastly we move onto the sweet and sour sauce and shrimp fried rice. The sauce is made with orange juice – yes that’s right orange juice. The rice can be filled with as many veggies as you want, today we’re using red pepper, onion and peas.

The rice couldn’t be easier if we tried; we simply add the veggies, shrimps, cooked rice (tip – it’s better to use day-old rice), add the seasoning and peas. Make your scrambled egg in the middle of your wok, mix it up and just like that, we’re done.

I’ve always been told Chinese food is easy to make and now I know exactly how easy. As well as being healthy, they’re also inexpensive to make and I’m tempted to replace our fave takeaway dishes with these recipes.

Kwok’s classes cover everything from the basic Introduction to Oriental cooking to Asian street food. Each course costs £95 and take place around Leicestershire. Check the website or Kwok’s Facebook page for details.

Kwoklyn Wan

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