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George Heriot’s School Chinese Cooking Class

I had my first Chinese cooking class with George Heriot’s School yesterday and it was also my first proper teaching experience in a school.

George heriot's school Chinese cooking class

Last week, I was contacted by Linsey Ballantyne, who is the teacher of health and food technology at George Heriot’s school regarding teaching her students how to make Chinese dumplings as these dumplings are a huge part of Chinese and Taiwanese traditions during the Chinese New Year period. I was really excited about this project as I have never taught in a school and George Heriot’s is one of the top schools in Edinburgh. Of course I’ve taught many people how to cook many things in professional kitchens and I have done a couple cooking classes outside of restaurants but this is my first school job.

If you follow my blog you will know I studied at Edinburgh College of Art so I have passed George Heriot’s school almost every day for the past three years. I’ve always been completely fascinated about this building because the building itself is breathtakingly beautiful, it’s 388 years old and it’s ranked as one of the very best independent schools in Edinburgh. This is another factor as to why I’m so interested in the school. My daughter Amelia will start school in Autumn 2017 so we’ve started looking at primary schools. Both myself and my husband Chris had indifferent experiences at our own schools and unfortunately our local school is ranked the worst in Edinburgh (87 out of 87) so we’re seriously thinking about going down the independent route.

But back to this blog post, you don’t always get a chance to visit a school like this so this teaching opportunity gave me a chance to visit this truly amazing school.

George Heriot's School main building

Chris and I are both very excited about this teaching opportunity. We always say if we are not rich in finance at least we can be rich in life experience. So by visiting this beautiful school there is one thing to tick off from our bucket list.

I have to admit I was very nervous as I have never taught in a school before nor children so I was really worried that they wouldn’t want to listen to me or find that I’m too boring. But thankfully the class which was made up of around 30 pupils (all girls except for 2 boys) were great. They giggled a lot but it felt like they genuinely listened and Linsey said that was the best they had ever behaved in class. So, I must have done something right?!

When I demonstrated four different ways to make dumplings I have never heard so many “wows” in my life and that was a very interesting experience. Most of the time when I teach junior chefs in the kitchen they are either quiet, have an attitude in general, have an attitude with me because I’m a woman (remember real chef environments are still very much male dominated) or in some cases have an attitude with me because I look “Chinese” and so they don’t think they have to listen. So most of the time I have to be aggressive with my students which made me loose interest in teaching anyone. This is also another reason why I haven’t taught for a while so I’ve been spending my last couple years working on my illustration business as well as my writing job at about.com Chinese food. I’m also working on my third cook book right now which is taking up a lot of time but I’m super excited to see the final product.

Linsey, the other two teachers and her assistant were all very helpful and friendly. Linsey was especially awesome (she’s the lady in the middle below) and I thought she was really easy to talk to and working with her felt completely natural. It was also awesome to learn that she visited Shanghai in the past which is somewhere I lived for one year. Her comment that she has “never eaten Chinese food in the UK since coming back from China” was brilliant. Chris is exactly the same. After he travelled to China and then travelled to Taiwan a few times he/we very rarely eat Chinese food outside. I think for a teacher who has researched other people’s work/cooking and invited them to come into her class and get them to teach speciality foods is absolutely great.

I remember in Taiwan we didn’t really have cooking classes at school and Chris said when he was at school they were only taught how to make British food. Maybe this is a “independent school / George Heriot” thing but it’s great and Linsey was awesome to work with.

George Heriot's school dumpling class

I would really love to go back to teach any of students again or even if other schools have interest in Chinese cooking class. Something I have to bare in mind next time is time management. We only had 1.5 hours for the class and that included some of the prep, making the dumplings and cooking them in two different ways. When I make dumplings at home I usually make between 80-100 and I’ll usually spend a few hours making the mixture and then I’ll make them while watching TV/drinking tea etc. For the class I had to prepare mixture for around 300 dumplings. I intended for the students to be able to make around 10 dumplings each but everyone did really well. The students had to leave at five but apart from a couple students who had to shoot off (they took dumplings anyway) everyone managed to boil their dumplings in class. As well as boiling the dumplings I showed them how to pan fry the dumplings as well.

As I explained in class, during the Chinese New Year we’ll make masses of dumplings but because we make and cook so many there are always leftovers. So the next day(s) when we want to eat something we just quickly pan fry them and they’re absolutely delicious.

george heriots chinese cooking class

We weren’t allowed to take any photographs of the students due to protections rules/laws but we took some photos anyway. Incidentally the dumpling fills I made were “prawn and sponge gourd” and “pork and Chinese chive”. Sponge gourd (also known as luffa), which is the long green vegetable above, is popular in the East and is a really interesting/unique vegetable. I must also mention that I decided to buy all the ingredients from See Woo in Glasgow. We had been wanting to find an excuse to go to Glasgow for a few weeks and See Woo Chinese Supermarket was the only Chinese supermarket in the area that had enough sponge gourd. I called ahead with an order, picked up on the Sunday afternoon and then had lunch at See Woo restaurant which is my favourite Chinese restaurant in the area.

Liv Wan Chinese cooking class

George Heriot's school Chinese cookery class

George Heriot's school

Fried Dumplings Recipe

Fried Dumplings Recipe

I’ve officially started my maternity leave as of this weekend and I’m now 32 weeks pregnant. Millie (my unborn daughter’s name is Amelia) is very healthy and very active. As confirmed by one of my many midwives (we don’t get a permanent midwife here in Edinburgh) an active baby is a healthy baby and Millie is very active!

I think I’ve been quite lucky my with pregnancy so far as she tends to move around a lot during the day but less so during the night, let’s hope she stays like this when she’s born!. I’ve heard of a lot of pregnant women complaining about babies kicking them and they can’t get enough sleep but “so far” I’ve been lucky.

People have been asking me what it feels like to have a baby move around my belly and the best way I can describe it is it feels like a flower blossoming, albeit a strong one. I can feel her waving her arms and legs and if you can imagine it really does look/feel like a flower blossoming.

Any discomfort at this stage of my pregnancy? Yes! Recently I’ve been suffering from constant heart burn but I’ve learnt how to control it. Soy milk and ginger tea have been really helping me. Apart from that everything is good but I’m really confident that years of working as a chef have made me fairly strong and really fit so even though my belly has grown considerate, everything else; my bum/arms etc, are still fairly normal.

So this is my first recipe in a really long time (sorry!) and I decided to share with you a recipe for “Fried Dumplings” which I also cooked for my colleagues during my last two shifts. I promised them a really long time ago that I would bring in dumplings and finally I did.

If you follow my blog you will know I have cooked dumplings before. This time I changed the recipe a little bit for the filling and the cooking method is different compared with the older dumpling recipes.

Please find the recipe for the dumplings I made previously here: Dumplings Shui Jiao

The reason I changed the ingredients from Chinese chive to spring onion is Chinese chive has, during my pregnancy, made me feel quite ill. On the couple occasions I have eaten it I have felt really bloated so I replaced it. I also added some chopped fried eggs into the filling as it improves the texture but most importantly gives it a stronger flavour.

About changing the method of cooking, last time I boiled the dumplings, which I of course had to do again but I finished the dumplings off by frying them. When I lived with my parents my mother would fry left over dumplings from the previous night’s meal and turn them into a really delicious snack. In effect it gives the dumplings a new life!

Dumplings are fantastic as both a snack and a meal. Whether you fry or just boil them, they are really quick to make (we made around 140 dumplings and it took us about 1 hour although we are really quick nowadays at making them), they’re extremely healthy and they’re filling. Here is one recipe that I often use to make Fried Dumplings.

fried dumplings
fried dumplings

 

 

Fried Dumplings Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 120 dumplings

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork mince
  • 2 bunches spring onions chop finely
  • 3 slices ginger chop finely
  • 6 large eggs beat and season with 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp soften in hot water and chop finely (available in most Chinese supermarkets)

Seasonings

  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Fry the eggs as thin as a crepe and chop it finely when it has cooled down
  2. Mix all the ingredients and seasonings evenly and leave it for 30 minutes
  3. Make the dumplings as the procedure photos from the link above shows. You can use a little bit of water to help the edge of the dumpling pastries to stick together
  4. Boil a big pot of water and cook dumplings in the boiling water
  5. When the dumplings have risen and are floating on top of the water, they are cooked (please note this applies to fresh dumplings only, if they are frozen you will need to wait for the water to boil then add more water. Wait to boil again, repeat twice, then they are cooked)
  6. Cool the dumplings down under cold water and drain. Gently mix some oil with the dumplings to prevent them from sticking together.
  7. Heat up a little bit of oil in the frying pan and fry the dumplings until they are golden brown on the outside. They are ready to serve!