Foods from Ottawa Chinese Cooking Studio


2011 Apr 19
A while back I was looking for advice on cooking classes. In the end we organized a private cooking class with the Ottawa Chinese Cooking Studio. Here’s my review.

While the studio is located in the suburban neighbourhood of South Ottawa, the Chef/Owner, Nancy Han, also teaches classes in other locations. The studio is on the main level of her house and is well layed out to accommodate hands-on group cooking classes. While, I’ll be the first to admit that this location wasn’t all that appealing to me (I live downtown), having now taken the class, let me say that you “shouldn’t let the location deter you”.

Nancy is Chinese of origin, however, she offers classes with various types of authentic Asian menus (Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian and Korean). We chose the Korean menu. Nancy began the class by introducing the recipes and required ingredients. The first item on the menu was Korean Dumpling Soup. We gathered around a large preparation table in the kitchen to prepare the filling and fold the dumplings. We all had our own tasks and then folded the dumplings as a group. Folding the wrappers around the filing was the fun part! Nancy showed us several fancy techniques and shared a few “tricks” so that the dumplings wouldn’t fall apart when cooked in the soup broth. When the soup was ready, we sat down at the dining room table and enjoyed the delicious dumplings. The filling consisted of right combination of meat, noodles, and vegetables seasoned with ginger, garlic and sesame oil.

Next on the menu was Pajeon or Korean pancake. While this version of the recipe was made with shrimp , we learned that we could make it with various other types of seafood. The fun part of making this recipe came during it’s cooking. We took turns showing off how we could do the “pancake flip”. After taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of this dish on the plate, we enjoyed it along with the traditional dipping sauce made with soy, rice vinegar and sesame oil.

The last two items on the menu were Bulgogi (marinated beef with BBQ sauce), and Korean Cold Noodles with Hot Sauce. The beef was surprisingly easy to make and the sauce contained few ingredients. We quickly consumed the bulgogi leaving only a few pieces of carrot and onion on the plate. The cold noodle dish on the other hand, was less popular among our group. I’m not sure what it was about the dish that we didn’t care for, perhaps it was the fact that the noodles were served “wet” (on ice) and cold - making the texture more “soupy” than salad like.

It was a good thing that the cooking was broken into courses. This gave us added time between courses to digest as well as “make room” for the next dish. We were all pleasantly full by the end of our cooking class. While there wasn't much food to take home as left-overs, Nancy kindly dipped into her personal supply of kimchi so we could bring some extra home with us.

We were surprised at how much we enjoyed the experience. Nancy gave us the knowledge to try these Authentic Korean recipes at homel; she also gave us the confidence to think of ways we might want to vary or adapt them.

Oh and did I mention the cost? Regularly scheduled classes are in the range of $55/person while private groups run in the ball park of roughly $60 - 65/person depending on the number of people, menu, etc. Classes lasted about 3 hours.