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

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.