I love the huge range of events that happen all year round in London. Another reason why I love London is the proud multicultural vibe.
So, when I heard about this Chinese Food Festival that took place on Friday 8th – Sunday 10th September 2017, I jumped on the opportunity to go and dragged my mother along!
The festival was set up in Potters Field Park, London, next to City Hall near Tower Bridge. The location was beautiful – near a new area called ‘More London’ – and everything was bright and clean and comfortable.
We went on Saturday 10th so we could have a go at the free School of Wok masterclass (it only ran on Saturday and Sunday). Having arrived at 11:45, everything was already in full swing and we were immediately greeted by people handing out free samples of Lee Kum Kee’s Sweet Soy Sauce and vouchers for free samples of dumplings and taster shots of Chinese Liqueur.
We were almost distracted by the promise of free food but remembered to sign up for the free masterclass – luckily we did because they were quickly booked up!
We went around the stalls, doing a little cheeky peek at what they were selling. There were all sorts of things from lamb skewers to noodles to gao zi (dumplings) to huge ice cream waffles.
We tried one dumpling each and they were pretty good but not worth the price tag. However, the free taster shot of Chinese liqueur (mixed with Pimm’s) was delicious and mum decided to buy a large bottle worth £30!
In return for buying the large bottle, they gave us lots more free shots and a voucher for a free bottle of liqueur when we visit an associated Chinese restaurant.
There was also one man swinging a long noodle dough strip up and down, demonstrating how to make noodles.
There were a lot of policemen and security people in bright fluorescent yellow jackets. Also a lot of people in panda suits.
However, most of the food was overpriced (a bowl of noodles for £15?!) so I just ended up buying a small cup of noodle soup for £6 and a lamb skewer for £1.50.
There was an ice cream stall that sold awesome ice cream but just one cost £7! I just asked a parent to photograph this kid’s ice cream because I’m broke af but still want to show you guys 😉
The Good (Free!) Stuff
Since the festival was sponsored by Lee Kum Kee, we were basically showered with plentiful free sachets of sweet soy sauce (yum!) – the organisers sure knew the way to a Chinese person’s heart!
The highlight of the day has to be the free School of Wok x Lee Kum Kee workshop. Even though we didn’t learn much of value, it was fun and hands-on.
The food was already prepared: the chicken marinated overnight; the ingredients chopped/ground up; the amounts measured out already. In Asian cooking, the preparation tends to be the hardest part!
Firstly, we made dumplings from marinated pork mince (with spring onions and soy sauce) and ready-made dumpling pastry. The dumpling fold method they taught us was simple (two arms/legs then fold one side)…
… so mum taught me the traditional method (crease all along on one side).
Once folded, we just boiled the gao zi in water for 5 minutes until done.
Szechuan chicken was next – I greased the wok with oil, and once it was smoking, added onions and peppers, stirring until they were lightly charred. I then added chicken (which was marinaded overnight in a little bit of soya sauce and salt).
We were taught to stir fry the ingredients by wobbling the wok up and down and stirring round and round – I felt like a real pro! When the chicken was done, I added the garlic, ground Szechuan peppercorns and chilli peppers.
Finally, I added the chopped spring onions and served.
It was delicious (if I may say so myself)! The peppercorns were crunchy and added a little spicy something – totally worth all the smoke it created that made us cough whilst cooking. Would totally recommend going early to book into the masterclass!
The assistants were lovely – we wanted to take our gaozi home for my brother but they didn’t have tupperware for us so they wrapped up a bowl of them in cling film.
What We Brought Home
We visited the Lee Kum Kee stall where they had cheap Lee Kum Kee sauces on sale – £1 for 3 sachets of Kung Pao (chicken) or Honey Garlic (spare ribs) sauce (or both); £2 for a large-ish squeezy oyster sauce, £1 for Char Siu sauce and even gifted a free cookbook and cute USB drive (shaped as an oyster sauce bottle) too!
And don’t forget the Chinese Jing liqueur we bought for £30!
Although the food and drink were generally overpriced, we were introduced to a lot of different Chinese brands and the atmosphere was buzzing. I loved the picturesque location – it was in the heart of London, after all – and the master class was definitely the highlight.
Most of all, though, I loved it for the freebies 😉
Have you guys ever been to a food festival? Have you tried making Chinese food before? Let me know in the comments!