[Travels] Cooking Class at The Bale in Nusa Dua

December 29, 2016 2 Comments A+ a-

Cooking classes give us the surreal opportunity to put on a chef's hat and cook up a storm. The one offered by The Bale, a luxurious hotel with just 29 villas, in Nusa Dua Bali was certainly an enjoyable, enriching and inspiring experience that I will never forget.

To be totally honest, I didn't come with much expectations as I did not want to be disappointed.

But the remarkable warmth, attentiveness, friendliness, knowledge and professionalism demonstrated by Chef Nadi has surely created a paradigm shift in my worldview as he generously shared with us his cooking expertise and skills and opened my mind to the intricacies of cooking traditional Balinese recipes. On hindsight, the cooking class (with late lunch which stretched for almost the whole day) was also one of the best days of our Bali trip.

Tour of Two Local Markets (8am to 11.30am)

A typical class usually consists of up to 6 persons, but we were lucky to be the only ones who had booked for that day.

The learning journey started off when Executive Chef Nadi picked us up from our hotel and drove us to the local traditional market and fish market to choose a selection of spices, fruits, fresh seafood and ingredients for our cooking.

We watched in awe as he sliced up the fruits and spices with amazing dexterity and taught us how to select the freshest fish. As we tasted different types of mangoes and smelled difference types of leaves and spices, it was an unforgettable experience that spoke to our different senses. Chef Nadi readily shared with us his wealth of experience and knowledge of the different local fruits, seafood and spices like we were his best buddies.

We also got to observe how the locals earn a living in the markets and the Balinese way of life - something we wouldn't have seen if we had only visited the typical tourist areas.

That's how the locals sell cooking oil!

Frankly, we wouldn't have ventured to this local market alone as tourists, if not for this guided tour. It was really insightful and educational and we certainly have to commend Chef Nadi's service and professionalism. Although there was a slight drizzle, he gave us an unbrealla. Along the way, he also provided us with cold wet cloth towels in case our hands got dirty and mineral water in case we got thirsty.
Who has seen blue fish before?

Time to Freshen Up (11.30am to 12.15pm)

After surveying the market for the freshest produce and ingredients, we dropped by a ceramic factory, after which we were driven back to the hotel to enjoy some nice warm cappuccino and bread.

Whilst we were relaxing and enjoying the scenary in this beautiful villa resort, Chef Nadi was busy preparing the ingredients for our class.

The Cooking Class Begins! (12.15 to 2.45pm)

The 5 items we cooked were:
  1. Bumbu Be Pasih: Seafood paste
  2. Gado Gado: Indonesian vegetable salad with peanut sauce, egg and tofu
  3. Kare Udang: Curried prawn
  4. Sambal be Tongkol: Fresh tuna salad with shallot, lemongrass and lime
  5. Pepes Ikan: Grill fish in Balinese spice, wrapped in banana leaf
(Janet: Before we continue, I have to add how great the open kitchen is! Imagine your kitchen overlooking lush greenary and beautiful water features. It is any home-chef's dream to work in such an environment with a carefree resort feel.)

We were first introduced to each individual ingredient and learnt how it contributes to the dish as we were given the opportunity to taste and smell them individually. Thereafter, under Chef Nadi's supervision, we combined them together to create an alluring, enticingly delicious and spicy sauce for the fish.

As Janet could not take spicy food, we were free to adjust the amount of chilli added into the food. (PS: In case you are still wondering - yes, our lunch would be what we cooked!)

Along the way, Chef Nadi taught us some basic skills such as how to hold the knife as I was totally clueless and hadn't been in a kitchen before.

As we picked up more confidence, he also taught us more advanced skills such as using the knife to make fish fillet from a whole fish.

(Janet: Just look at the above pictures! For someone who has never cooked before, he managed to fillet the fish so well. I can't describe how proud I am of him; I seriously think he has hidden talent - albeit under Chef Nadi's supervision. Make some fish fillet again for us soon, dear?)

We also had the opportunity to grind the peanut sauce from scratch using the traditional mortar ...

... And picked up tips of wrapping the fish properly in banana leaves.

Chef Nadi guided us very well throughout the cooking class to make sure that our food was well-cooked. As we were running out of time, he did most of the cooking towards the end. Oops *grin*

Btw, I have to say that the authentic Balinese sauce created by Chef Nadi is astounding and totally out of this world, trust me, and brings a huge smile to my face during my frequent gastronomic ruminations of it.

Enjoying the "Food" of our Labour

After all that cooking which Chef made look simple when it was actually pretty difficult if we were to recreate all the dishes without his excellent supervision and guidance, we were finally presented with a certificate of accomplishment - and of course more importantly we got to taste our own food which we cooked.

It was immensely satisfying and delightful as we realised how we managed to integrate all these delicate ingredients into something that tasted and smelled so wonderful, surreal and heavenly. We took our time to enjoy every morsel of food, and were free to slowly enjoy our meal till almost 4.30pm.

At the end of the meal, we each had complimentary Coconut Ice Cream with Passionfruit as well which was so refreshing!

We applaud Chef Nadi's professionalism and excellent service and would surely recommend this cooking class to anyone who decides to have a holiday in beautiful Bali - this place they call paradise on Earth.  

Other Information

The cooking class, at IDR 950.000 ++ (about USD 76 ++) per person, included:
  • All ingredients
  • Recipe
  • Escort by private chef 
  • Traditional market and fish market tour
  • Refreshment (tea, coffee and pastry)
  • Complimentary bottled water during market tour and cooking class
  • Lunch and tasting of prepared dishes
  • Drop and pick up service within Nusa Dua area
  • Cooking class certificate & gift (new apron!) from our Chef

The latest information can be found on The Bale's webpage here.

If you have attended a cooking class in Bali before, tell us about it in the Comments below!

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Write comments
21 February 2017 at 16:19 delete

I feel like touring on our public market while checking the part where you bought the ingredients. Hehe! Asian countries are typically alike, the set up, the spices and the sea food! This is totalyy a great experience learning from scratch and experiencing how to make the traditional dish. Loving the outcome of your work too!

14 September 2017 at 07:17 delete

Thank you for your lovely comments! The market tour truly let me understand how the real local Balinese life is - though it was just for a few quick hours!