I have been an ardent fan of Chinese take out for years. This would be a veritable boon of healthiness, but unfortunately it’s not so much the stir-fries that have captivated my taste buds, as the coated-in-batter-and-deep-fried recipes! Such is my devotion to Chinese cuisine that my dog (who receives a couple of prawn crackers that evening, and any left over rice for breakfast) now recognises the signs that Chinese is incoming, and starts squeaking with excitement!
Whilst browsing an Adult Education site I stumbled across countless 6 week cookery courses on various cuisines – Italian, Indian, Spanish… Needless to say, I simply *had* to do the Chinese cookery course!
Why cook it yourself?
One of my justifications for my Chinese addiction, is that I’m dairy-intolerant, and therefore find eating out extremely difficult. As the majority of Chinese are also dairy-intolerant, Chinese represents an entire “safe” cuisine. By cooking yourself, you have complete control over what goes in the dish, and can not only cater to any dietary requirements, but also your particular tastes.
Authentic Chinese dishes are also much healthier. The sweet and sour pork we cooked was easily the tastiest I’ve ever had and was not the faintly frightening shade of neon orange that I have encountered in the past!
The downside? Chinese cuisine uses a completely different set of staple ingredients to English food, so, until you get your cupboards stocked and unless you’re going to be using them regularly, it can be on the expensive side.
Throughout the course we cooked a variety of starters, mains, and even some puddings (I remain unconvinced on the authenticity of some of the deserts, as one had milk in, and unfortunately our teacher was not particularly good) so that by the end we had a variety of full dinner menus to impress with. I leave you with my favourite recipe from the course, crispy prawns. Bon appétit!
Serves 6-8 as a starter
- 450g (1lb) fresh, uncooked, peeled prawns
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 400 ml oil
- 8 tablespoons cornflour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 10 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine, five spice and pepper
- Pat the prawns dry with kitchen paper, and then mix in the soy sauce mixture
- Heat the oil in a wok
- Whilst the oil is heating, dip the prawns in the cornflour, shake gently to remove the excess, then dip in the beaten egg, then coat thoroughly in breadcrumbs
- When the oil begins to smoke slightly, deep-fry the coated prawns for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown