Monday, June 13, 2011

Cooking at the Intercon

Our subscription to the National newspaper has paid off in a couple of ways. First, I got a 700 dirham voucher for sunglasses (that's about $190) and am now the proud owner of a pair of Tommy Hilfiger glasses (the most expensive pair I've ever owned!) Second, I found out about this fun cooking class at the Intercontinental Hotel Yacht Club Restaurant.

I've been to a few cooking classes before and many of them are simply demonstrations that you get to watch, then eat, and usually take home the recipes to try yourself. In fact, I attended a Chocolate & Pastry "class" earlier this year as part of the Abu Dhabi Gourmet event (see past post). But at this class, we actually got to do some of the cooking ourselves, which I much prefer. (It probably helped that we were making some pretty easy recipes! ;)

We started with a vegetable tempura where we made the tempura batter ourselves, then dredged the veggies in flour and then batter and then put them in the hot oil. Pretty simple, but learned some good tips on how to make great tempura. For example, if you don't start with ice water, your tempura will be soggy no matter how long you fry it in the oil. The chefs were great and since there were only 5 of us in the class, we got plenty of personalized instruction.

Next up was a different type of tempura using Japanese panko bread crumbs and shrimp. Panko bread crumbs are fabulous and I'll never go back to regular bread crumbs again - they make whatever you're cooking so much crispier. This dish was also fairly simple, just flour, egg and bread crumbs and then the shrimp goes in the oil. SIDE NOTE: Everywhere Brian and I have traveled, we've noticed that the plural of shrimp is shrimps. We laughed when we first ran across it in Fiji, but have since seen it pronounced and written that way in Tahiti, Mexico, Roatan and now UAE ... is it only Americans that don't say shrimps when we mean more than one?

For dessert ... you guessed it, more tempura, this time with ice cream. It was green tea ice cream rolled in a sponge cake, then dredged in flour and corn flakes and dropped into the hot oil (don't worry, we used different oil for the dessert!). Deep fried ice cream with a slightly different twist than Chi-chi's used to make it. :) The chefs did most of the work ahead of time and we just had to coat the  pastry and drop it in the oil. Still fun to participate rather than just sit and watch.

After our 'hard work' we had lunch and of course they served the dishes we had learned to make. The lunch plates looked a bit neater than the ones we bumbled through during the class. :) The food was good and I met two new ladies - one from India who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 25 years (it was fun to hear from her how things have changed over that time frame!) and one originally from the Philippines and now in UK. That's still my favorite thing about Abu Dhabi, all the interesting stories of where people come from and how they got to Abu Dhabi. Back home, Brian and I are some of the most travelled people around, but here, we're homebodies by comparison!

A fun afternoon and I loved the shrimp dish so much that on the way home, I picked up some panko bread crumbs and some shrimps :) and Brian and I had them for dinner. They were really good too, except deep frying like that really stinks up the apartment. I might have to try them in the oven next time - they won't taste quite as yummy, but the kitchen won't reek all weekend either.

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