BALI – PAON COOKING CLASS PT 2

Bali – Paon Cooking Class Pt 2

After touring the morning market in Ubud, we were shuttled to Wayan’s house where his wife Puspa led us through preparing a traditional Balinese feast. There were 25 approximately 25 students in the class and everyone was involved in cooking. I liked the structure of the class, preparation of the ingredients was broken up into stations and students rotated through them, students then paired up at stations and took turns cooking each dish. Each pair’s contribution was then added to a large pot and mixed together, which meant mistakes were hidden. Even if your dish was a little burnt or had a pinch too much salt, once in the big pot, the final product was delicious.

Many of the dishes we cooked had lots of vegetables, which I loved since usually vegetables are hard to fit into meals when travelling. There were also no small appliances in the cooking class, this was the traditional way of cooking. Puspa mentioned how a food processor would cut down a lot of prep time, but she wanted us to have an authentic experience. Every sauce was made from scratch, fresh raw ingredients and blended using a Bali Blender, aka by hand with a mortar and pestle. Almost all of the dishes included yellow sauce, which has close to 20 ingredients. With the tasks of mincing and grinding broken up though, it took no time at all to put together.

To start, I was at the deep frying tempeh station. One of the assistants showed me the colour I wanted to achieve for the tempeh and kept an eye on me since this was one of the more “difficult” stations. The Hubby was set to work dicing long beans before being moved to the Bali Blender to work on grinding fried peanuts. His wrist was sore, but the aroma of fresh peanut sauce was mouth watering.

After all the ingredients were diced, minced and chopped, there was a break while Puspa demonstrated how to make yellow sauce using a giant mortar and pestle. Students took turns to try their hand at pounding out the sauce. During this time, the prepared ingredients were measured out for each dish and couple. The flow of the class was at a good pace and efficient, we were always active and there was very little waiting time.

For each dish, Puspa demonstrated the instructions and then walked around to each station as we cooked. In general, one person was responsible for adding seasoning while the other cooked. With each dish, The Hubby and I switched roles. In addition to curries and salads, we also wrapped fish in banana leaves to be steamed and made skewers on sugarcane that was grilled.

Once we were done cooking, all of the food was set up buffet style to be enjoyed. The food was delicious, rich in flavours, fresh and fragrant. I had two full plates and went back for a third helping of bean salad. Creating such a tasty meal in the communal effort was incredibly fun and satisfying.

Overall, both The Hubby and I had an incredible tine with Paon Cooking Class. We enjoyed the hands-on teaching style, Wayan and Puspa’s easy-going humour made them fun hosts, and the food was really good. In fact, better than a popular traditional Bali restaurant we tried the night before. For anyone visiting Bali, I would highly recommend including a cooking class in your itinerary, even to make the time for one. 

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