Mongolian BBQ Class With Chef Meg at Coghlans Food and Wine Experience, Rowsley
What an absolutely ruddy brilliant afternoon that was!!! I love all the classes at Coghlans Derbyshire Wine and Food Experience Centre at The Peak Village (as you all know), but this brand spanking new offering is the real-deal, and then some. Don’t hold me to it 100%, but I’m fairly certain that this is also the only authentic Mongolian BBQ class in the country – you’re not going to get much more authentic, either, than being taught by an actual, bona-fide Mongolian person!!
Chef Meg Lkhagvadorj is a Mongolian native who originally had a career as an artist, discovering her talent in the kitchen after working alongside her grandmother, who is a top Chef in Mongolia. In her introduction to the class, Meg wove stories about the times she had as a child: how her farming family would move their 600-strong herd of livestock to give them good grazing, and how the climate shapes the food they would grow, cook and eat. The recipes we were going to be doing were some that Meg and her family had made many, many times, so we were all eager to get cracking; the quicker we made them, we quicker we got to scoffing them!
Having explained that we were going to have a mega-prep session, several of us headed to make a brew before the hard work began. A couple of new-comers, Fran and Stephen (apologies if I’ve spelt that wrong) followed our lead and, with thirsts slaked, a thrum of activity commenced that involved much chopping of vegetables, making of doughs and marinading of meat.
The title of the course is a little bit of a misnomer here in Blighty; it isn’t a BBQ as we know it, it’s what we’d call a stir-fry. Mongolian BBQ is more of a description of the large griddle plate used to cook the meat and vegetables, usually over an open fire or using heated stones - it’s not as if you’d get a modern BBQ set-up in the hills of Mongolia, is it?! If you visit a Mongolian BBQ restaurant though, expect to see rows of ready-prepped delights that you simply select from, and Chef cooks to order for you.
Anyway, back to the Coghlans kitchen and our progressing efforts… cubes of marinated Lamb/Mutton were being slid onto wooden skewers and popped into a hot griddle pan to seal all their edges, and sliced steak was sizzling in a wok, ready to be joined by our selected veggies. What we’d thought were flatbreads had been browned in large frying pans, but they were actually going to be transformed into our ‘pan roasted noodles’ once we’d cut them in half, rolled them and sliced them into ½cm strips. Once sliced, they got added to the beef and vegetables and, boy-oh-boy, did it suddenly look a magnificent dish.
Khuushuur (Mongolian Pancake Dumplings) had quickly been whipped up, too: the dough was rolled in saucer-sized rounds and then filled with spiced, minced beef before being rolled 1/2cm thick and popped into a fryer. Most of us couldn’t resist biting into one, blowing furiously as the steam rose so as not to burn our greedy mouths; our impatience was rewarded with the most deliciously flavoursome meat and juices flooding over our palates. Huge grins could be seen wherever you looked, and Meg was beaming in joy at seeing our reaction to her country’s cuisine.
For the sweet treat of our feast, we made twisted doughnuts. We’d made the yeast-containing dough earlier, and it had been in the proving oven to expand in size; taking it out, we then rolled the dough to ½” thickness and cut it into 1” wide strips. Each strip had a slit cut into its centre (not extending right to the edges), and then we turned one end in on itself to make a simple ‘knot’. These delights are deep-fried until golden and then liberally dusted with caster sugar and ground Nutmeg - I absolutely love Nutmeg, so mine got a second dusting of it.
His Nibs can always be counted on to have the porch door open when I return from Coghlans Derbyshire Wine and Food Experience Centre (never happens when I’ve been shopping!) and, sure enough, there he was as soon as the jalopy turned onto the drive, hopping from foot-to-foot in anticipation. No sooner had I got the food-laden bag from the car boot, than it was whisked from me and taken inside – yeah, I’m alright, cheers fella!! Fledge is just like her Daddy, and moseyed into the kitchen to see the morsels unwrapped before asking “how long will dinner be, then?”.
Nose-twitchingly good aromas swelled throughout the nest and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the table set so quick! A silence fell over my flock as we all tucked in to the stonkingly delicious Mongolian BBQ that I’d produced under the watchful eye of Chef Meg. Yet again, I’d delivered a fab feast from Coghlans and, although all the credit is due to Meg, I was vicariously basking in the glory!!
This (I think, as I haven’t done them all) is my favourite Coghlans class so far, easily. Not only is it pretty unusual, it’s great fun, the smells are amazing and you learn about a new cuisine. If local – or even not-so-local – businesses want to offer their diners something different, you could do worse than send your team onto the Mongolian BBQ class…just saying!!
Massive thanks again to the lovely Lisa for inviting me, and to Chef Meg for her never-ending patience with me. Hot Wings given here, again. P.S., do you think I could have a camp-bed set up in the back room? Pretty please!
To book your place on this, or any of the other full- or half-day courses at Coghlans, ring Lisa or Donna on 01246 453131 or visit the website www.cookingexpert.co.uk
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