Kitchenwise Issue 111: Beijing

Zhou has turned half of her courtyard into a kitchen (the large table in the foreground serves as a prep area), but the other half remains a sun-filled sitting area, where she gathers with her students to eat at the close of each class.
While Zhou offers her students a range of wood and plastic cutting boards to use during classes, she prefers a traditional Chinese ironwood cutting board.
The door to Zhou's courtyard home is painted a vibrant red, the traditional Chinese color of celebration and prosperity.
Unlike Western cooks, Chinese don't use traditional measuring spoons, so Zhou teaches her students to measure ingredients like salt, MSG, and soy sauce by sight.
To make the room habitable in all weather, Zhou installed plastic roofing lined with grass mats to cover the kitchen area.
During class, every student has a chance to make each dish taught. At lunch everyone sits down to taste each one and learn from each other's mistakes and triumphs.
Just yards away from Zhou's front door, a neighbor cooks his lunch on a propane stove set up outside his front door.
The alcove in Zhou's kitchen that contains the sink and stove is covered in tile for ease of cleanup, and contains the few tools she uses in her cooking, including a variety of sieves, a large measuring cup, and some scoops for wok cooking.
Like most Chinese people, Zhou drinks tea, rather than plain water, all day long and offers it to her students and guests as well.
Zhou's small class sizes keep every lesson intimate and personal.
Zhou's open pantry contains all the spices and flavorings she needs for class, including multiple kinds of soy sauce, bottles of Chinese cooking wine, containers full of Sizhuan peppercorns, dried chiles, and star anise.

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