Last Summer me and Polly headed to London for a foodie filled weekend, and during our trip to Street Feast London we both tried Mama Wang’s Xi’an Hand-Pulled Noodles. I was hooked on these delicious noodles and spent weeks craving them! So when I found out that Mama Wang’s were hosting cooking classes, in Chinese Street Food, I jumped on my phone to see if Polly wanted to go along with me…which luckily she did!
So on Sunday during our Foodie Weekend in London, we headed for 3 hours of cookery fun, ready to learn how to recreate classic Chinese street food in our own kitchens.
In order to cook all three recipes in the short window of time we had, we dipped in and out of each recipe throughout the session. But the first dish we completed overall and ate was the Duck Jian Bing – classic Chinese breakfast crepes filled with roast duck.
We started by cooking the duck, something I’ve actually never done before even though I love eating it! We scored the skin, seasoned it, then fried it skin side down to render the fat before it was popped into the oven for 10 minutes.
Polly whipped up a simple pancake batter next, then we took it in turns making our own Chinese crepes. After topping it with spring onions and coriander, I successfully (and surprisingly!) managed to flip it over, before brushing on some hoisin sauce and chilli bean paste, and cracking a egg on top.
A final flip back over (again I was nervous but it worked!), a dash more of the sauces, and it was ready to be plated.
Topped with a few lettuce leaves and the duck before being rolled up, it was ready for us to enjoy! Which we definitely did as it was delicious! The pancake was so flavoursome thanks to the coriander, sweet hoisin and mild hint of chilli, and it encased the tender duck breast making for a fantastic first taste of Chinese street food in the class.
Our next dish was Roujiamo – Chinese flatbread sandwiches with red-braised pork belly. Jessica had cooked the pork belly in advance as we didn’t have enough time to do it ourselves, but this was the only thing we didn’t actually cook! After slicing it up, we braised it in a wonderfully fragrant and spiced sauce, simmering it away until it became a sticky, rich glaze.
Meanwhile Polly made the dough for the flatbread (they were a bit like English muffins!). They were then rolled into balls, pressed out, and fried in a pan until they puffed up and went all golden and nice.
We sliced the buns and stuffed them with some rocket, tender pork belly and plenty of the sticky sauce. A chorus of ‘mmms’ filled the room as we all tucked into these yummy, amazing buns! However, they were quite rich so I couldn’t eat too many of them.
Our final dish was Jisi Liangmian – tossed chicken noodles with a creamy sesame paste sauce. We started by making a spicy sesame sauce using sesame paste (top tip – use peanut butter if you can’t find any!), dark and light soy sauce, black rice wine vinegar, caster sugar, garlic, Sichuan pepper and chilli oil. Then prepped all of the vegetables for it (carrot, red cabbage, spring onions, beansprouts, coriander), including julienning the carrots which is a technique I’ve not used before, resulting in thin strips, and was much easier than I thought it’d be.
After poaching the chicken thighs and cooking the buckwheat noodles, we mixed it all together to create a cold, tossed noodle salad. A drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds completed the dish, and we were ready to tuck in.
It was so tasty and bursting with flavour, and would be perfect for a light dinner or packed lunch. For me this was the simplest to make, and the most accessible recipe as it used ingredients that are either already in my fridge/cupboard or would be easy to find!
It would have been good to have some warning to bring our own lunch boxes with us to take the leftovers home, as we thought they would be provided – especially for the noodle salad which I was craving the next day for lunch! But luckily our big appetites allowed us to finish pretty much all of it.
Although the class didn’t really flow for me, with lots of stopping and starting and at times standing with nothing to do, I thoroughly enjoyed how hands-on and involved it was. We got to work in partners at our own stations and actually prepared and cooked every single part of each dish (except the pork belly). For saying I’ve been to a few cooking classes now, this isn’t something I’ve ever got to do before; it’s always just involved helping prepare food, with one person cooking at a time, and mainly just eating the food rather than being involved with cooking it. So for a keen cook like myself, Mama Wang’s class was perfect!
I felt like I came away having learnt new skills and techniques. All the recipes were straightforward to follow too, and didn’t include any ingredients that you wouldn’t be able to find easily. Along with us getting to actually work and cook our way through each recipe, I really feel like I’ll actually cook the recipes at home too now.
Disclosure: I paid for the cookery class myself, and all opinions expressed are honest and my own