When I visit a new place I love to eat the local food, go to the local food markets and learn about the local ingredients. One of the great ways to do this is to book in to a cooking school. The teachers usually speak English well so that you can ask lots of questions and they also explain lots about the local food culture that you wouldn’t otherwise learn.
While I have been on holiday in Bali I went to Bamboo Shoots Cooking School in Sanur. I can highly recommend it to any age or level of cooking experience. There were only about 9 guests who were all lots of fun and our host Irma, a local Balinese lady made it an amazing day for us all.
We started the morning at 7am at the local markets at Sanur. The markets are well worth a visit, they are very clean and well laid out. The food that you can buy there ranges from fresh fruit and vegetables, banana leaves, offerings, eggs, flowers, spices, meats, seafood and local eats. This photo is of a range of Balinese sweets that can be eaten as snacks and all about 10 cents each.
Irma explained different ingredients to us as we went around and she purchased a few items for our class. All of the meat and seafood is just sitting out on the counters with no ice or electricity which we all found a little troubling but it is just not we are used to.
We stopped at the local eats section and tried lots of different fritter type things both sweet and savoury. I have found that in Bali they love to deep fry food such as whole battered banana, vegetable fritters made of sprouts and cabbage or corn fritters, which isn’t very healthy. That has really surprised me. It is good to have a try but I am not used to eating that sort of food and no longer enjoy it like I once would have.
After the market visit we went to the cooking school which was in a cute Balinese hut surrounded by tropical plants, it really was the perfect setting. Irma’s team cooked us breakfast before we got started, which was really nice and it gave us a chance to get to know each other.
Once we got started we were set to task on making coconut milk from scratch, chopping chilli’s, onions and garlic. Then we all stirred, ground and fried. The way that Irma runs her class is that we all share the making of all dishes rather than making individual dishes. It worked really well and was a huge team effort.
I had a bit of a laugh making the coconut milk because I was too vigorous and I wasn’t doing a very good job and keeping the coconut milk in the bowl!
We made Chicken Satay (Ayam Satay) first, which I loved. Then we made Mie Goreng which is noodles with vegetables, it’s the noodle version of Nasi Goreng. We then made Beef Rendang, which was sensational! It’s actually not difficult to make, I will share this dish with you because it is too good not to!
Then we hand made Spring Rolls from scratch including the wrappers out of rice flour and water. I asked Irma if this was a traditional Balinese dish and it is not, but in any event it was interesting seeing how to make your own wrappers and they were tasty! We also made a chicken broth soup called Soto Ayam, which was really lovely. Once the broth was made we had a range of 10 dishes with little tasty bits such as boiled egg, shredded chicken, coriander etc that we could put into the broth.
By now we were very full because we were making the dish and then eating it, but there was still dessert to go! For dessert Irma showed us how to make Banana with Coconut & Palm Sugar which is called Pisang Rai. It was an interesting dessert and very easy to make. It was small whole banana’s dipped in a batter made from rice four and water. Then put into a large pot of boiling water to poach. Once the batter was cooked the banana was rolled in freshly grated coconut and then drizzled with palm sugar syrup. Very yummy!
Are you full yet by just reading about all this food? I think that I rolled out of the cooking school, but it really was worth it. I had a wonderful time and came away with a few dishes that I will enjoy making at home, the Chicken Satay, Beef Rendand, the Soto Ayam and even the Pisang Rai (tweeked) are all things that fit well with my real food pledge and they were all very delicious.
If you are going to Bali I can highly recommend the Bamboo Shoots Cooking School. The cost was $45 for the morning from 7am – 12.30 and that included breakfast, lunch and the class. They will pick you up from where ever you are staying for a small fee. The website is here.