Two week cooking course (sample)

This is an example of a two week cooking and cultural course that we have been providing to students. This kind of course is designed to suit the requirements of individuals and small groups, so elements can be changed, and the course can be shortened or lengthened, depending on your requirements. In the version of this course on this page, there are approximately ten days of activity.

Day 1: Initial meeting and discussion – afternoon.

We'll have a light meal and tea and chat about the events ahead. Please feel free to ask any questions that interest you, whether relevant to the class or not.

Days 2 – 4: Familiarization with basic concepts. Dumplings and side dishes

Events: Visiting an experienced chef on Day 3, Children's party on Day 4

During the first three days, we will visit the local street markets, supermarket, ingredients shop, and herbal ingredients shop. We'll usually start at 8am and finish at approximately 2pm.

We will practice making a variety of different kinds of dumplings, and preparing the dipping sauce and simple side dishes. Side dishes will include things like pickled cucumber, Tofu boiled in tea (Dou Gan), and so on

On the second day, after practising making dumplings, We will visit an experienced chef at her local restaurant. She's especially good at Sichuan and Jiang Zhe cuisine (Jiang Zhe refers to the Jiang Su and Zhe Jiang regions of China). We will order her famous dishes, find out how she cooks them and enjoy them afterwards.

On the third day, we will put what we've learned into practice by holding a small party for some local children after they finish school, and see what they think of the dumplings we've made. And we'll also cook herbal soup for the adults.

Day 5: Visit to the Tea Museum and Teahouse

Instead of having a class inside today, you will relax by taking a tea culture tour instead. About an hour's drive from Taipei, Ping-Lin has a great tea museum, tea farms, and many nice tea houses. A day's trip to the heart of the tea growing area is a good way to understand the Chinese tea culture.

I'll arrange a car for you which will take you around the various stops and bring you back to your hotel.

(Alternatively, if you think that it's better to have a class inside, then we can arrange an extra cooking lesson instead – same daily charge as normal. Please let me know well in advance what you'd prefer.)

Here are some web pages which tell you more about this area and the tea culture.

Day 6: Rest day

Sunday: day off. I will suggest some restaurants for you to visit if you wish.

Days 7 – 8: Making traditional Zong Zi

Zong Zi (Rice Dumplings in Bamboo Leaves) is a traditional food which is always popular during the Dragon Boat Festival – though it is eaten all year round. We'll buy the ingredients in the local markets and shops, bring them back and make Zhong Zi. (note: this section can be replaced with other seasonal dishes, depending on the time of year).

Optional extra: Visiting a Tofu-making shop.

Taipei hosts many small traditional Tofu-making shops (some are simply a tiny one-room factory in a store front). Unfortunately they only make the fresh Tofu very early in the morning, so you need to be there by 5am or even earlier. Because of the very early start, this is an unaccompanied trip. If you want to make this visit on your own at that time, it's possible (but not definite) I can arrange this with the owners. However, the shops are sometimes too busy to accept visitors inside. In many cases you can simply watch the activity from the public sidewalk directly outside the open-fronted store – though it's polite (and sensible) to stand clear when they are moving goods in and out of the store.

Day 9: Visiting Hakka culture

Summary: Visit to a family-run organic farm and sesame oil factory

The Hakka people are one of the most influential minority groups in Taiwan (and China). We will visit a Hakka (Ke Jia) family's farm in Taoyuan county. We will see how the family grow their own organic vegetables, raise chickens, and so on. I will also try to arrange a visit to a small sesame oil factory nearby, if possible. Sesame oil is an essential ingredient of Asian cooking, and the best sesame oil has the same cachet as the highest quality balsamic vinegar or olive oil.

It will take about an hour to drive to the family farm by car. And the trip will take us all day which means we won't have a cooking class inside. (If you prefer to stay in and practice cooking, then we can do that instead of taking this trip - let me know well in advance what you'd like to do).

Day 10 – 11: Making some home-style and regional dishes.

Summary: Making healthy lunch boxes for the older people

As usual, we'll buy the ingredients and come back to cook. On the first day we'll practice making lunch boxes. We'll try some Tofu dishes, egg dishes, sour and spicy soup and so on. Then, using what we've learned, on the following day we'll prepare about 15 lunch boxes and give them to older people in the neighborhood to enjoy. The older people often find life a bit boring - staying at home a lot, watching TV and always following the same routine - so they're very excited to try something new.

Day 12: The last day party

Summary: Making food for a party.

We'll bring together many of the lessons we've learned to make food for a party here. We'll make the dishes we're best at, and invite some of the friends we've made during the other classes and visits. You're welcome to invite your local friends and acquaintances.

Please note that this is a sample cooking class only, so these dishes may not always be available.