I’ve grown up in the shadow of a pretty incredible cook (“Hi mum!”), so thankfully I’ve learned a thing or two in the kitchen over the years and managed to master the basics required to successfully adult in this world. However, there are a few things I am terrible at when it comes to cooking. I always overcook chicken because I’m terrified of getting food poisoning, I have no idea what to do with seafood and when it comes to cooking rice, well I leave that to my trusty $20 Kmart rice cooker.
That was until I attended the paella workshop at Elementi Cooking School in Claremont with my cooking side-kick and fellow Urban List work buddy. We learned everything from how to hold a knife properly (now I know why I cut myself all the time), de-vein a prawn, pull out those pesky beards from mussels AND how to cook chicken so it’s not raw or tough like a piece of leather. We’ve totally levelled up in the life game!
We arrived at Elementi and were given the warmest greeting by our cooking instructor, Simona, who ushered us to our workstations and gave us aprons to don. As we waited for the other class members to arrive, we sipped on refreshing citrus and mint infused water and admired the copper appliances dotted around Elementi, which doubles as a kitchen and interior design business during the day.
The class got underway and Simona educated us on how an authentic paella is made—it’s not meant to include chorizo to my surprise and is NEVER meant to be stirred, creating what the Spanish call “socarrat” (translation: caramelised crust). Apparently true paella contains snails and rabbit, and we weren’t too sure what to think about that, but for the sake of the class and our westernised taste buds were going to be making ‘paella mixta’ with chicken and seafood.
Before we got to cooking, Simona showed us the ropes and explained all of the ingredients we would be using so when we got down to the nitty-gritty we barely had to consult our recipe cards (of which we were given two, one to use on the night and a pretty, clean one to take home—thanks Elementi!).
The work stations at Elementi were a pleasure to cook at. They had all the pots, pans and utensils you could ever require and the best bit, we didn’t even need to wash up! Plus, in true foodie style, class members are welcome to bring a bottle of wine to enjoy during the class.
During the class I finally learned how to cook chicken properly (who knew chicken thighs remained tender when cooked for a long time? #chickenbreastsyousuck) and de-vein prawns (just pull straight!). There was a lot of fist-pumping going on around the room, so I don’t think I was the only one with sub-standard skills when it came to cooking with chicken and seafood. And to top it all off I managed to achieve the perfect socarrat, making me feel like a total paella pro.
The end result? Some of the most delicious paella I’ve ever tasted, even better than the one I ate in Spain. Because I’m a massive chorizo fan, next time I make it I’ll likely break the rules and pop some in, but otherwise it was pretty perfect!
I had so much fun and since taking the class I have managed to convince a few people to take another class with me. With choices spanning from Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisine to authentic Thai and gourmet vegetarian, the hardest part will be choosing which to tackle next.
Want the location, information on classes, and all the details? Check Elementi Cooking School’s website.
Got a hankering for Spanish food but can’t be bothered cooking it yourself? Search ‘Spanish’ in The Directory!
Image Credit: Nancy Hanna