Authentic Chinese Cooking with Lilly Jan at Create-a-Cook

November 5, 2010 · 12 comments · Print This Post

in Reviews

As I not so patiently waited for the evening of my authentic Chinese cooking class to arrive my one constant mantra became dumplings…dumplings…dumplings. Lilly Jan was somehow going to teach me how to make dumplings and I couldn’t be happier.

This particular class was held at my favorite instructional cooking venue, Create-a-Cook. Create-a-Cook is located in Newton, Massachusetts and I simply can’t say enough about the caliber of classes they produce. I’ve now taken four very different sessions (pizza, pasta, cakes, and Chinese) and each one left me with a huge amount of creative ideas for reinvigorating my home cooking.

The Authentic Chinese class is actually part of the date night series so CK tagged along with me for fun (i.e. he played my sous chef). Lilly planned a fantastic menu for the class to prepare consisting of dumplings, Cantonese-Style Steamed Fish, Kung Pao Chicken, Ma Po Tofu, and Stir-fried Chive Buds. How jealous are you right now?!

We joined the other couples in the class Friday evening and Lilly put us straight to work chopping, prepping, and making sauces. It was a veritable marathon of mise-en-place. I did find myself thinking that perhaps Lilly was a bit of a slave driver when she requested that we thinly slice green beans. My knife hand definitely protested this activity. Do you suppose you can claim green bean related carpal tunnel with your insurance company?

The other attendees seriously put CK and I to shame. Our dumplings were downright funky looking but they still tasted great and we got to take home a ton of them to freeze. I’ve reheated a few at a time since the class and they’ve been just as tasty as the day we made them. Dumplings! The treat that keeps on giving.

After we savaged our way through the dumpling section we prepped the other dishes. Of course CK and I are actually 7 and not 30 and kept playing with our fish. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the fish but it came out stunningly well.  The cilantro and ginger we stuffed in the belly permeated the flesh and it just melted in your mouth after it was steamed.

My favorite dish of the evening was definitely the Kung Pao Chicken. I simply can’t say no to spicy dishes when they’re topped with peanuts.

While the winner for the most intriguing dish of the night and also the most lovely was the Ma Po Tofu. Just look at that ruby red color! It was so hot it made my mouth go numb but I just kept shoveling more in and downing glass after glass of water. Since you get to take home your leftovers after the class I continued killing my taste buds during the weekend. I’m obsessed with making this recipe again though — just with a bit less heat. By the way, if you haven’t experinced Szechuan Peppercorns before than you’re in for a real treat.

If you want to get the inside scoop on Lilly’s fabulous recipes and see her in action then you’re in luck! Lilly still has two classes left this year: Saturday, November 20th at 6:30 PM and Thursday, December 2nd at 6:00 PM. You can register online by clicking here. I promise that you will have a spectacular time. Lilly is a wonderful instructor and her congenial humor and breadth of quirky foodie knowledge will put you instantly at ease.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen B November 5, 2010 at 9:41 am

One of my life goals is to learn how to make dumplings. I am so bad in the kitchen – do you think it’s possible? Maybe you should come down for a private lesson!


2 Erin November 5, 2010 at 9:45 am

Kristen – Maybe during Thanksgiving we can have a dumpling making party?

In the meantime, here’s the recipe:

A video of Lilly making the recipe:

And a video detailing how to pleat the dumpling:


3 Kristen B November 5, 2010 at 10:11 am

a Dumpling making party sounds awesome to me!
especially if that means you make the dumplings and i freeze them for later consumption!


4 [email protected] November 5, 2010 at 9:45 am

These look really delicious!


5 Marta November 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm

The class was great! I have been to other cooking classes and this one was the best so far; we cooked 5 meals in 3 hours! Just wanted to say that your dumplings look as good as ours 🙂 but your photos are way better than mine!


6 [email protected] November 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Oooh, I’m so jealous! I really want to learn to cook Chinese. That spicy tofu dish has me drooling. Maybe I’ll try to get to one in the spring.
Enjoy your dumplings – they’re beautiful!


7 Jenious November 5, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Her class sounds like such a treat! The Kung Pao Chicken looks purely delicious.


8 Allen November 7, 2010 at 12:46 am

I love Ma Po Tofu!!! My mouth is watering looking at the photo of it!


9 Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie November 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I like the idea of a dumpling with all kinds of non-traditional fillings. After all, the idea of a dumpling is really an international one shared by cuisines around the globe: in the Latin world you have Empanadas, in Poland there are Pierogis, in Wales it’s all about Pasties and on and on around the globe.


10 Sharlene November 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Wow! I’ve always wanted to take cooking/baking classes to expand my skill set and learn from someone in person but haven’t had the opportunity yet. I wish I lived anywhere near Newton. Your dishes look fantastic!


11 Sues November 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Aww yay for Lily! Looks like an awesome class with an awesome teacher 🙂 And the food you made is beautiful!


12 Kelly November 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

That looks like an awesome class. I’ve taken a couple of cooking classes and always feel like I’m more suited for just experimenting at home, but that one does look awfully fantastic.


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