One of the cool things about hitting your ‘late twenties’ is that you no longer need to pretend all there is to do on a weekend evening is go to a rubbish club, drink overpriced watery pints and cry when KFC is closed on the way home. Don’t get me wrong, I do like a night ‘out out’ – but most of the time, I kinda like to be in bed by midnight, preparing myself for the next day’s lie in. And I’m finally actually embracing it as a thing that’s totally cool to do.
Last Saturday, while still nursing the hangover from the night before (yep, it was one of those ‘out out’ nights), I headed over to Westfield London to take in a late night class at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School. I’ve done a couple of cooking and baking classes before, and I’m a big fan. Our pick was the Taste of Japan evening – not sushi, as you’d probably initially expect, but Japanese hot street food style offerings. YUM.
I feel like this is becoming a slight running theme in my blog posts, but thanks to delays on the Central line, we ended up arriving just under ten minutes late. I think I might start leaving the house an hour earlier before I have to go anywhere just in case. Screw you, Central line.
We managed to arrive just in time to be handed a couple of glasses of fizz. They’re complimentary with the class and there’s also a well-stocked bar for any other thirst-based needs, although at your own expense. When I’d finished of my bubbly, Conor was a good egg and bought me a glass of wine. Because if there’s anything I like more than cooking, it’s drinking wine while I’m cooking.
The kitchen area was set up with stations to work in pairs, as I’d opted for one of their ‘Bring a mate’ classes, where you can save a tenner off the usual price. And have someone else to chop your veggies up while you drink your wine. Best idea.
All the ingredients were handily laid out for us, and after a demonstration, we set to task in creating our own Japanese street food dishes…
First up, we prepared our gyozas. We already had a small mound of dough on the table, and our job was to roll it out to be super thin. Which sounds easier than it is. Even using flour, the dough was quite sticky, and we did have to restart a few times when we made a mess. But once we got on a roll (pun intended), we managed to get our six gyoza skins ready.
Another tough part was the folding – our chef definitely made it look a lot easier than it was. But when I did one that didn’t look like a child’s playdoh mess I did a little dance of pride. In the end, they sort of looked like little Cornish pasties. They may not have been the most visually appealing gyozas, but I think we did an alright job really.
Our main dish was a Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry with brown rice. Once our pans had heated up (cooking tip: make sure pans are fully hot before chucking meat in them), we cooked our chicken. To make the teriyaki sauce, we added soy sauce, mirin and sake.
Except. We may have made a slight culinary error. By this, I mean, we mixed up the bottle of mirin (rice wine), which we were supposed to use, with a bottle of rice vinegar. Which we definitely weren’t supposed to use. WHOOPS. After coming clean about our f-up, chef looked a bit worried. Then had a taste. And, apparently, we’re actually secret Japanese food geniuses – he loved it. Obviously, we actually did it on purpose…
As well as the two dishes we’d cooked up all on our own, chef also provided us with a steaming cup of miso soup. I avoided the tofu at the bottom, because tofu and I ain’t friends, but the soup itself was delicious. I’ve never really been a particular miso fan, but this soup was definitely the best I’ve ever tried.
The Terikayi Chicken Stir Fry actually blew my mind a little. Seriously, it was so damn good. And actually really simple to make – definitely something I can recreate at home (vinegar included…). The gyozas weren’t my favourite – to me, the pork mixture inside them wasn’t particularly fulfilling, taste-wise and the skins were a bit dough-y and plain. (Maybe down to our cooking though?) But I did really enjoy the Gomadare sesame seed dipping sauce we made. I’d have happily eaten that with just a spoon…
As well as the Japanese session, the Jamie Oliver Cookery School do all kinds of classes – from pizza and making your own pasta to Mexican and Indian street food. Check out the full range, and keep up to date with new classes on Facebook and Twitter! The class prices range from £35 upwards – this one is £55 at ‘Mates Rates’ price (or £65 if you wanna go solo). For me, that is a bit pricey – but it was a really enjoyable evening, and I’m definitely contemplating heading along to one of the other sessions now…
The Jamie Oliver Cookery School @ Jamie’s Italian
1078, Westfield London, Ariel Way, W12 7GB
0203 435 9900
*I was offered a free session in exchange for review – all culinary f-ups and opinions definitely my own.