First thing he asked me to do was not go to the kitchen at their Covent Garden HQ but to sit down and taste one by one many of the spices that are used in Asian cookery. Dividing them broadly into three sections: Aromatics such as cardamom, cumin, coriander etc. then you have Warming: Red Chilli, Turmeric, Fenugreek and a few others then the surprisingly named Offensive Spices: Peppercorns, Cloves, Bay, Star Anise, Cassia Bark and a few more. This palette wheel gives you a greater understanding of what you cook with what and Jeremy then showed how combinations of the spices might affect the taste on food.
The cooking started with preparing a marinade for lamb, then, we tempered some spices – a very delicate operation, as it is easy to over do or burn them. This was the beginning of an hour and a half of adding, stirring, tasting. I did learn a very important lesson in obtaining flavour in a curry, you have to let the food catch on the bottom of the pan this will add colour and more importantly taste.
In these sessions you really do get stuck in and have to make everything yourself. Jeremy is a great teacher and the School of Wok actively encourages people with varied abilities so no need to worry if you haven’t made Chapatis before. I hadn’t but they came out OK. In all, we cooked a Lamb Curry, a Sweet and Sour Chickpea Curry, Chapatis and some truly excellent Potato and Onion Bhajis which were light as feather even if I do say so myself.
The three-hour session that I went on cost a very reasonable £145 but you could go for a whole day or just an hour depending on what you wanted to get out of it. It’s a great thing to do for a birthday or anniversary or even to kick off a stag or hen night. You do get a sense of achievement by the end – whether it’s knife skills, preparing a vegetable you’ve never heard of before or just eating all that you cooked. There is a tremendous amount to learn in this field of cooking, these courses are for those who just want to give it a try right up to those taking their skills to much higher level.
Here are just a few of the classes being held over the next month: Oriental Seafood & Fish, Understanding the Wok, Dim Sum Masterclass, Vietnamese Wonders, Quickfire Street Food and of course Understanding the Wok: Karahi Curries.
To find out more go to www.schoolofwok.co.uk
61 Chandos Place
Tel: 020 7240 8818