Beginner’s Choice: Mama’s Cooking is Good

HomSkil’s Cooking Workshop Challenge

When Ferninda asked me to give her a hands-on cooking workshop, I wondered how much she could learn in a short time, since she is a busy working mother of two toddlers with another baby on the way. But she was so keen and motivated that I thought we had to make the most of the circumstances.

Making the most of five and a half hours

I was surprised by how much we managed to do in five and a half hours. I gave Ferninda an intense two-hour course on the basics of Chinese cooking last Sunday via Zoom. She had to pay attention because she was expected to practise what she had learnt the following day (Monday) in the hands-on cooking session. She went through the recipes, made a shopping list and her husband went grocery shopping. They are a great team!

Hands-on Cooking Workshop

Ferninda was on half day leave on Monday. She rushed back from work with her three year old toddler in tow. We had to start by getting organized. Ferninda’s first task was to decide on the workflow based on the recipes for the five dishes:

  1. braised chicken with mushrooms,
  2. chicken stew Chinese style (with onions, potatoes and carrots)
  3. silky steamed eggs with sauce
  4. stir-fried broccoli with minced garlic and ginger
  5. stir-fried chye sim with minced ginger

She had to work with a stove with two ring burners. That was the first challenge. Dishes 1 and 2 (see above list) needed to simmer for 20 minutes. Dish 3 needed a high fire for water to boil for 3 minutes. Dishes 4 and 5 needed boiling water for blanching before a quick stir fry.   

We started working at 2.30pm. It didn’t take long to prepare all the ingredients and to cut the vegetables. Ferninda’s toddler wanted to help. He cut garlic and onions. We were using chicken already cut and drumsticks. There was no need to marinate the chicken. We had to brown the chicken before cooking. We browned all the chicken pieces at one go and separated them into two pots. In the first pot we added the ingredients for braised chicken with mushroom. In the second pot, we added the ingredients for chicken stew. We added water and left the two pots simmering for 20 minutes.

Quick boil and slow steam

Ferninda followed the recipe for steamed eggs. She beat the eggs in a metal bowl, added water and  chicken stock. She covered the bowl with aluminium foil, and placed the bowl in a pot with hot water. She left the water to boil for three minutes, then turned off the fire and left the egg mixture to cook in the pot with the lid on.  

Crunchy vegetables

We left the vegetables for last. Ferninda prepared the sauce to coat the broccoli before starting to blanch the vegetables. She blanched the broccoli first and set it aside, then she blanched the chye sim. Next she stir fried the broccoli with minced garlic and ginger and added the sauce she had prepared. Once the broccoli was done, she stir-fried the chye sim and added the ginger sauce, which had rice wine in it. The vegetables cooked fast. We had to make sure not to overcook them. They had to be green and crunchy, not yellow and soft.

We had serving plates ready to put the vegetables on, so that we wouldn’t overcook the vegetables while looking for the serving dishes.

Mission accomplished

We started in the kitchen around 2.30pm and by 6pm we were done with five dishes. We had also finished most of the washing up. There was enough food for several meals.

Ferninda had learnt the basics of Chinese cooking:

  • cooking methods,
  • essential ingredients,
  • essential utensils, and
  • some Chinese dining etiquette

At the end of the workshop, Ferninda had the following to say:

I think to know the steps and really see what to look out for is really helpful for me! Rather than thinking of steps of each dish, now it helps me to visualize the overall steps. And I can modify accordingly.”

One step at a time

Family dinner on Monday night saw Ferninda’s two toddlers tasting Mama’s new dishes and giving their approval.

Ferninda’s own favourite was the steamed egg dish, but she found the sauce a bit too salty. She will adjust the recipe for the sauce next time. That’s the way to go.

Words of Wisdom

Like everything else in life, we start our cooking journey one step at a time. Learning the methods and techniques of cooking will make the journey easier and more fulfilling.

I am sure all the effort was worth it for Ferninda when she saw her toddlers enjoying the dinner Mama cooked!

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 29 July 2022

[We are not putting all the recipes on this post because it will make the post really long. The recipes were mainly from Spice N’ Pans (on YouTube). The stir fry vegetables recipes were also from YouTube. (How to Stir Fry Any VegetableThree Basic Flavours and Recipes. By Chinese Cooking Demystified)]

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