Chinese Laundry in Upper Street launches dim sum classes

The dim sum made by Tongtong

The dim sum made by Tongtong - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew tests the first ever dim sum class at the Chinese Laundry and manages to create a regional variation.

The dim sum made by Emma, her familiy and Rob

The dim sum made by Emma, her familiy and Rob - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

“Dumplings are my favourite food and I can’t get them in my mouth fast enough buying them - so I need to make them.”

This was the reasoning behind one participant’s decision to join the dim sum making master class at Chinese Laundry, and reflected my sentiments entirely.

To celebrate Chinese New Year, Peiran and Tongtong who founded the Upper Street restaurant invited diners to a dumpling making masterclass, and I took my mum and daughter to the very first one.

There we learnt how to make the traditional dish with fillings like pork and seaweed, Shitake mushroom and daikon, and prawn and okra – all washed down with a Baijiu rice spirit cocktail.

Emma's daughter Ines at the dim sum class

Emma's daughter Ines at the dim sum class - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

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Traditionally dim sum are eaten with tea, a bit like we have cake, our comrade on the course Rob fills us in – quite an expert with his Taiwanese girlfriend and self-confessed obsession with all things oriental.

The dough had already been prepared out of dumpling flour and water, and Tongtong demonstrated with finesse how to roll out the little circles before putting in a teaspoon of filling and joining up the edges, so that it doesn’t spill out while cooking.

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She showed three versions of the little half moons with varying degrees of difficulty.

As is always the case with these classes, it’s never so easy to do it yourself - and even rolling out the little circle was quite a challenge.

Chinese Laundry founders Peiran Gong and Tongtong Ren

Chinese Laundry founders Peiran Gong and Tongtong Ren - Credit: Chinese Laundry

But praise was forthcoming. “That’s beautiful,” Tongtong sing-songed, managing to sound genuine.

Her colleague came to have a look at some of our finished products, sitting in the tin waiting to be steamed.

“You’ve made the biggest ones I’ve ever seen,” he said. “My first one never looked like this - it was horrible. It was falling apart everywhere. They are huge but they are properly closed,” he laughed.

“Oh this is amazing - this is another shape we have in a certain area of China,” Tongtong exclaimed, looking at one of my botch jobs which I’d contorted into something not demonstrated, just to make sure that it was closed fast.

The best bit came when we got to try what we had made. At this point it became apparent why it is best to keep the dough super thin, and how it’s best to not cram in too much filling. The pastry was thick, they had fallen apart - but they were delicious all the same.

A feast is served up for us, with popcorn chicken, smashed cucumber and even more dim sum that Tongtong prepared earlier, putting us to shame with her perfectly formed shapes.

“It’s nice to take your time doing something,” Rob remarked. “We rush around all the time.”

“Cooking is a happy thing,” Tongtong enthused in her calm manner, sharing memories of her grandparents who would spend all day cooking. It’s true, it was lots of fun, and nice to share between generations.

The masterclass, drink and meal is £45. Keep an eye out for future classes.

107 Upper Street, 020 7686 6847,

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