This will be my very last blog post from Guilin. Once again, it’s worked its charm on me and despite the heat and humidity, I wish I didn’t have to leave. Swimming in the clean clear rivers every day, cycling around under the hot sun wearing a broad-brimmed farmer’s hat, eating lots of good food and enjoying the slower pace down south – it’s a heady mix and Shanghai will have to work hard to beat it.
On one of my last days I visited the Yangshuo Cooking School – now an even bigger operation since I last visited a year ago. It’s still held in a rustic little farmhouse, looking out over lush green fields of rice and lotus to the karst mountains in the distance, but the school now holds classes twice every day, with a week-long intensive offered for serious foodies. In a morning or afternoon session you will first enjoy a guided tour of the Yangshuo wet market, then spend two enjoyable hours with fellow food-lovers learning to cook five new Chinese dishes, and then eating them. For 150 yuan per person, it’s something of a bargain.
I’ve included one of their simple recipes below as a taster.
The kitchen set-up. And yes, those great big gas bottles are perfectly safe.
Steamed Chicken With Ginseng and Red Berries
This recipe, adapted from the Yangshuo Cooking School, is a healthy combination of ingredients designed to give the body maximal benefit through the medicinal components of ginseng root, chinese dates and goji berries. Luckily it’s delicious too!
- 300g chicken breast or thigh, very finely diced (substitute silken tofu for a vegetarian version)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- dash white pepper
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 3 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
- 4 shitake mushrooms, finely sliced
- 10cm piece of ginseng root, finely sliced
- 1 desertspoon goji berries
- 4 dried red dates (jujubes)
- sesame oil, to serve
- Mix finely diced chicken with salt, sugar, rice wine and vegetable oil
- place chicken on a small saucer and shape into a circular patty
- top chicken with mushrooms, ginseng root, goji berries and red dates and a swirl of sesame oil
- place inside steamer basket with lid
- steam over simmering water for 20 minutes or until juices run clear
- serves 4 as part of a shared meal
In the village after class a communal nap was taking place under the camphor laurel tree. A damn fine idea, and I would have joined them had there been any spare space.
See you all back in Shanghai!