Paon Bali Cooking Class, Ubud
We are rather partial to a food tour or cooking class and Ma spending two weeks in Ubud was the perfect opportunity to partake in another one. We chose Paon Bali due to their ranking and reviews on trip advisor and were not disappointed. The 350,000 IDR (about £20GBP) included pick up and drop off from our accommodation and a brief tour of Ubud Market, as well as the cooking and eating of eight dishes. Yes you read that correctly EIGHT, all of which were delicious. But back to the beginning…
We were collected a little late, which is par for the course in a country as relaxed as Bali, by a very smiley Wayan who dropped us at Ubud Market where the rest of our group was gathering. We walked around the narrow stall lined passageways while another Wayan (It’s one of only four Balinese unisex names) and one of the owners of Paon Bali, introduced us to the local fruits. Sappadillo, snake fruit and mangosteen were new ones to most of the group but having been on a lot of food tours and eaten a lot of fruit over the last months we’re familiar with them all and big fans of mangosteen in particular. We were also offered smooth orange passion fruits, far from the wrinkled aubergine coloured ones we get back home. (Over the last few days we have eaten fresh ones, still yellow, picked straight from the vines that form part of one of the roofs at Bata Bata our favourite local warung (eatery) as an appetizer to their delicious meals.) The cobwebs crowding the grubby ceilings above the market stalls sent shivers down my spine thinking about the spiders who must have made them but I managed to keep my focus on the goodies we were passing through and kept panic at bay 😬
After our quick market stroll we were split into groups and taxied to Wayan’s house in the hills overlooking Ubud where we regrouped and gained some more making a total of twenty four budding chefs. On arrival we were offered wonderfully refreshing Balinese lemon juice. They do not have yellow lemons on Bali so people assume they are limes but they also have limes and green lemons which have a taste somewhere between western lemon and lime. You find it served most places blended with a little sugar and ice and it’s really the most refreshing drink. While we were drinking and after an amusing introduction to his home and the cooking school by the very charming Wayan we met Puspa, his wife, the boss, and our cooking teacher for the day.
After a quick chat from the very lovely Puspa we were led back into the cooking area, a large covered space with two permanent cooking areas, three long worktops with hidden hot plates and three seating areas around a central courtyard.
Throughout the day we were split into pairs and all given the opportunity to slice, cut, mush, make, stir and cook at least one stage of each dish making for a really fun and interactive experience. I was teamed up with South Korean Sujee while JHubz and Ma made the perfect comedy duo 😝
We began by making Bumbu Kuning; a traditional yellow sauce that was used in several of the dishes and that included some twenty different ingredients ranging from familiar turmeric to galangal and candle nuts. The ingredients were placed in a big stone mortar and required some pretty impressive grinding with a four foot wooden pestle. Once suitably mushed (technical term) we started preparing the ingredients for all the other dishes and when everything had been sliced, diced and chopped to perfection our workstations were magically transformed into cooking areas.
The first of our dishes was Sup Jamur; a clear mushroom and vegetable soup that was easy and quick to make and delicious to taste, which we did as soon as it had been made.
Then it was on to cooking the rest with the ingredients we had prepared earlier:
Kare Ayam; Chicken and coconut curry
Sate lilit Ayam; Minced chicken grilled on bamboo sticks
Gado Gado; Vegetables in peanut sauce
Jukut Urab; coconut and snake bean salad
Pepes Ikan; Steamed fish in banana leaf
Tempe kering, deep fried tempe in sweet soy sauce
I won’t bore you with the details of each, suffice it to say we fried, steamed and grilled until a real feast had been created. Everything was downright delicious; I was so full after my heaped plate that I couldn’t go back for more even though I wanted to, badly, never have I been more disappointed in myself.
My chilli allergy was easily and painlessly accommodated into the process and they clearly have experience dealing with people with allergies. Despite my telling previous places we’ve attended in advance, I have either been treated like a pariah or expected to forgo most of the dishes. Here everything was tailored so that in my partner pair we made a chili free version of everything, really first class service.
The class was rounded out by Puspa making Kolak pisang; Banana in palm sugar syrup for us all as a final treat before we headed off on our separate ways. It was a great class, one I would highly recommend, interactive, fun and even with twenty four of us, we were all equally involved. Canadian David and Stephanie who were on their honeymoon, Sujee and the three very nice young multi lingual Scandinavian (we think) girls who shared our table were great company and made the experience even more memorable, a really great day out. It was so good in fact we may even go back again while we are here 😜 Xx