School of Wok
61 Chandos Place, London, England, WC2N 4HG
020 7240 8818 | www.schoolofwok.co.uk
- Accredited Qualifications
- Advanced Chef Skills
- Fish & Seafood
- Global Cuisines
- Knife Skills
Food and Travel Review
‘Are you ready… to wok?’ It’s the first question that’s barked out as we walk into the entrance of School of Wok on a recording studio -festooned Covent Garden street. But no, I haven’t enrolled on a Jack Black-led musical masterclass, rather chef Jeremy Pang’s cookery school, which teaches novices and experts alike how to make delicious, authentic Chinese food.
As the name suggests, the School of Wok is all about making cooking approachable and fun. Chef Pang – Cordon Bleu-trained with years under his belt at high-end Chinese restaurants in Manchester and Bath, and who also runs foodie walking tours around Soho’s Chinatown – takes 12 students at a time on a journey through Chinese ingredients, cooking styles and recipes. I’ve signed up for Dim Sum, which begins with a relatively simple Chinese classic: lor bak gou (turnip cake), a savoury dish with a range of earthy Chinese mushrooms and mooli (a mild-flavoured root vegetable, similar to radish). This breakfast of champions is one that Jack Black’s mentor Keith Richards would probably disapprove of but it tastes great.
Now we start with the dim sum. Those light as air little parcels, filled with punchy spice, clear-as-consommé stock and hints of smoked meat or vegetables. The gauntlet is thrown down to make steamed tofu rolls in oyster sauce and kimchi dumplings in Korean chilli sauce. We start by finely chopping ginger, garlic, spring onion then prawn with a traditional Chinese cleaver – the heaviest and sharpest knife I’ve ever seen. One piece of advice, we’re told is to always keep the tips of your fingers tucked away with knuckles pressed to the blade to keep them safe when chopping.
Lunch consists of the dim sum made in the morning session. While we’re eating, Pang takes to the stoves to whip up black bean spare ribs at miraculous speed. Salty, umami and sweet in the traditional Chinese style. The white wine he serves does nothing but accentuate the right notes.
Feeling buoyed by the morning’s relative success, the class moves onto ‘advanced’ dim sum in good spirits. Over confidence – as it so often does – shoots us in the foot. To pleat the dim sum with consistency, you have to have all the guile and dexterity of a Victorian seamstress. My hand is inverted ‘like a crane’ while the other remains parallel and pinches the crimped top; for a beginner like me it’s near impossible to pleat without breaking the integrity of the parcel. The har gow (classic steamed prawn dim sum) doesn’t resemble those I’ve had before, though tastes excellent, accredited to the provenance of Pang’s ingredients. I’ve a lot of practice to do and really excited to try to impress my friends with my new Chinese cooking skills – and I’m ready to wok! TH. £150