Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lunch and Wonton Making Class at Empress of China Intercontinental Eros

We were invited to Empress of China at Intercontinental Eros, Nehru Place for lunch and a Wonton making class with Chef Peter. We were accompanied by Sid of Chef at Large. The 'We' was friends from office Madhurima[whose take all the pictures in this post], Sravanthi, Jharna and me.

We chatted up till all of us arrived and had yummy Kimchi salad while we waited... It's flavours were delicately balanced...

We had a look at the menu and found a wide variety of Chinese dishes. We ordered Lemon Coriander Soup, West Lake Chicken Soup and Prawn Hargao (Marinated Prawns steamed inside a translucent wrapper) as starters.

Our main course consisted of Deep Fried Duck in Pineapple Lemon Sauce, Drunken Chicken (Wok fried chicken with bamboo shoots in spicy beer sauce), Kong Po Chicken (Diced chicken with cashew nuts and dry chilli), Stir Fried Chinese Greens and Butter Garlic Rice in Clay Pot.

What we all have raved about was the Deep Fried Duck in Pineapple Lemon Sauce. All the dishes we had were very nice but this one... It was exceptional. All off us voted this as our favourite... :)

After the spread of lunch, We began our wonton making class with the Chef Peter.
Each region of China has its own variations of wonton, examples include Beijing, Sichuan, Hubei, Jiangnan, Jiangxi, Guangdong (Cantonese), Fujian etc.

Cantonese cuisine
In Cantonese cuisine, shrimp filled wonton is most commonly served with thin noodles to make wonton noodles. It may also be consumed with red vinegar. The soup is made from boiling shrimp shells, pork bones and dried flounder to give it a distinct taste. MSG may be added to enhance the flavor. Hong Kong wontons were introduced to the area after World War II as street food and later indoor eateries.

Sichuan cuisine
In Sichuan, semi-pentagonal wonton are known as chāo shǒu (lit. "crossed hands" ) since after initially folding the wonton skin into a right triangle, each end of the hypotenuse are pressed against the middle of opposite sides, creating an impression of crossed arms/hands. These are often served in a sesame paste and chili oil sauce as a dish called "red oil wonton".

Shanghai cuisine
In Shanghai and its surrounding area (Jiangnan), Wonton filling is most often made with minced meat and bok choy served in chicken soup; however, Shanghai cuisine makes a clear distinction between small wontons and large wontons. The former are casually wrapped by closing the palm on a wrapper with a dab of pork and vegetable filling as if crumpling a sheet of paper. These are popular accompaniments to breakfast or brunch fare. The "large" wontons are carefully wrapped (often resembling a large tortellini) and a single bowl can serve as lunch or a light dinner. They are available with a large variety of fillings; a popular Shanghai fast food chain offers more than 50 varieties. One popular variety in Shanghai which is said to have originated in Suzhou is "three delicacies wonton" (san xian hun tun)which contains pork, shrimp and fish as primary ingredients. Wontons in Jiangnan are also made with Shepherd's purse if the recipe does not use Bok choy.

Ningbo cuisine
Ningbo Wonton has two types, steamed Wonton and Wonton soup. Both are filled with pork and shrimp.[Source: wikipedia]

While Chef was explaining the ingredients to us... We had Sravanthi taking down the ingredients diligently. The filling were of 2 types, the non-veg one was Minced Chicken and the vegetarian one was coarsely diced Ginger, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Onion and Carrots. They were flavoured with Sesame oil and Soy sauce. You can select filling of your choice from beef to prawns to anything you fancy that can be minced or shredded.

Now presenting Chef Nachiketa.... yipppeee... We had such a ball wearing the chef caps and were a bunch of giggly kids learning the craft of wonton making..... The only thing bothering me were the gloves.... me with tiny hands n feet.... the smallest gloves were also floating in my fingers and making delicate folding a huge task....

The first roll we did were spring rolls..... This one I was a natural at cause I've made them before in school :)

That's Madhurima, Jharna and Sid trying their hands at rolling and filling the wontons.... It was exciting....

The next ones were the momos.... Gosh how many of these would I have eaten over the years without realizing the intricate art of crimping.... I have new found respect for people who can do this so neatly.....

That's me rolling out and folding the wontons... totally delighted at the well done ones and the Chef wondering why on earth is she so excited...

We spent the whole afternoon chatting with the Chefs, rolling, wrapping and pinching the wontons......

The yellow wrappers are the egg based skins. These skins are easily available in most super markets now. Here's a video I found with easy instruction on folding wontons. Another one on cooking them.

Last but on the least, we had dessert just as the kitchen was closing. They indulged us and got us one of the yummiest chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream with a strawberry coulis, topped with a chocolate wafer.

Would like to thank the staff at Empress of China, Intercontinental Eros for their wonderful hospitality and Sid for arranging it. The visit was a total pleasure.


jharna...! said...

it sure was fun !
quite a refreshing post nachi, brought back all those giggle filled yummy memories (not that it was too old lol ) but loved reading it !!!

suma said...

Lucky you! am seriously jealous:-)

Madhurima Sil said...

We had a very good time and the Wonton making session was quite an enriching one... look forward to attending more sessions and capture interesting moments :)

Richa Sharma said...

I missed it and till i read this, i thought it was just another session. But the pics and words tell me, it was super fun!!

Nachi... make some wontons soon and share :)

And the hospitality, well the food in the pictures talks a lot about it :)

Gunjan Kathuria said...

Well, I'm not meant for all this!!But I can see you gals enjoying while taking these classes. Few Vegetarian things are looking yummy as well...

Nachi please add "nachi factor" in some vegetarian dish and bring it for me, please please please !!!

Sravanthi said...


mmm.. was sooo soo happy to see this and remember the awesome time we had.. Thanks to Sid and IC.

Thought wantons were the most complicated things ever.. though they don't seem tht easy anymore, at least i know i can give it a go sometime..

The Duck was super yummy.. definitely going back to have it..

Life as it is !! said...

What could be better than eating such yummy stuff and learning to make them from the chef himself/herself, right from all the smallest details and tips to get it perfect.
Looks like super fun, and I would just have to add that only few people can be this patient and teach the uninitiated.

Good going Nachi !!

d-amit said...

Gosh - Missed the opportunity .. For the next session I volunteer to be the photographer :) !

PS - When do we get to taste the newly recipe-d products :D ?

soyena said...

Hey, interesting fact: the Cantonese thin noodle's actually instant noodle :)
You must give me any sichuan recipe you have, I love love love their HOT food (><)/

Mimi said...

Looks like a fun time!