I found a few options for cooking classes ahead of our trip to Beijing but I really wanted to learn how to make dumplings, so Beijing Cooking School seemed to be the best choice for me. I opted to add on the market tour for an additional ~$16.
It was a very chilly ten minute walk at 9am to the hutong where the class was taking place and I quickly spotted another woman looking at directions on her phone nearby so I guessed she was also in my class. We introduced ourselves and set about trying to find the numbered entrance for the school. Thankfully it was well marked and we were ushered inside to warmer conditions. Because of a cancellation, we were the only two people in the class so we settled in with some hot tea and listened to a half hour lesson about soy sauces and vinegars. All the while, I was being snuggled by the resident pup.
The market tour took about an hour and after gawking at all the colorful veggies, sauces and meats, we headed back to the school to prep our dumpling dough and fillings.
We prepared the dumpling dough from scratch which was pretty great. It’s helpful to see what the texture is supposed to feel like and how to section the dough and roll it out into the proper thickness. The fillings were fairly simple – about 3/4 greens to 1/4 meat plus soy sauce, ginger, scallions and vinegar.
Now came the hard part – folding the dumplings! Anyone who has enjoyed eating dumplings knows there are many different shapes depending on the variety of filling inside. We learned to make three different shapes and I will be needing A LOT more practice before I can get a consistent product. But, here is my best effort…
Our dumplings were steamed, boiled and fried (pot-sticker-style) and served with a lovely cucumber salad at the end of the class.
Overall, I think this class was worth the experience but I am glad I didn’t pay more than $65. While I feel like we got more attention than normal because there were only two of us, the assistant and chef made quite a few of the dumplings (to save time presumably) and I could have used more practice. Additionally, we finished a good two hours earlier than advertised even after a leisurely lunch.