Market Kitchen in Abu Dhabi is conducting an unusual cookery class

Market Kitchen’s new masterclass in Abu Dhabi is an experience that includes a visit to the markets with the restaurant’s chefs, cookery tips and a personalised lunch.

Guests go the fish market with chefs from Market Kitchen to learn how to select fish. Ravindranath K / The National
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Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi has launched the first of its weekly masterclasses held at Market Kitchen. But this isn’t your typical cookery class. The four-hour experience includes chauffeured visits to the fish souq and fruit and vegetable market at Al Mina with the chefs to choose your lunch dishes, a mocktail-making session, front-row seats as the chefs prepare the food fresh from the market and valuable cookery tips along the way.

The shopping

My husband and I arrived at Market Kitchen Saturday morning to compliment­ary croissants and coffee from WhEAT and a small group of 10. We were then chauffered by van to the fish souq at Mina port with Market Kitchen’s head chef Jordan Annabi and chef de partie Hassan Sheik. We learnt about different fish varieties and how to tell when a fish is fresh. My husband and I bought sea bass and sea bream for Dh50. Then off to the nearby fruit and vegetable market. The chefs gave us a lesson in how to pick out produce and introduced us to herbs and veggies we didn’t know much (or anything) about. With some guidance on what would pair well with our chosen fish, my husband and I bought ingredients for a mango salsa to accompany our fish – two mangoes, three small red onions, a bunch of fresh coriander and two avocados, all for less than Dh30.

The cooking

We arrived back at the restaurant around 12.30am and gathered at the long bar in front of the restaurant’s open kitchen, where the chefs set out our wares from the market. Over the next two hours, we learnt how to clean and fillet fish, and new ways to use fruits and veggies. Executive chef Justin Galea made a salad using daikon radish leaves (which, like the leaves on fresh carrots, are usually tossed in the rubbish bin), sea salt and freshly squeezed lemon. The leaves were crisp, peppery in taste and a refreshing change from the usual salad greens. We learnt how to safely carve up prickly pear cactus, and found out that the best way to retrieve pomegranate seeds is to slice the fruit in half and pound on the outer shell with the back of a spoon. We also learnt to make three different mocktails with fresh fruit bought at the market.

The chefs

The chefs continued to share kitchen advice while they prepared our food. I expected the fish to be simply grilled and served with a side of fresh produce but we were served dishes made with on-the-spot creativity. We all agreed to share each other’s dishes, though this wasn’t expected or required. Galea made crispy young prawns covered in a chilli-based marinade. I thought it was super interesting that we could eat the shell and tail of young prawns. My sea bass was pan-fried and served with salty, crispy skin over a bed of crushed avocado and mango salsa, made with the mangos, red onions and coriander we bought at the market, and topped with fresh rocket. My husband’s sea bream, which tasted remarkably similar to my mild sea bass, had the same crispy skin as my fish and was served with the same mango salsa and crushed avocado.

The price

This is the biggest surprise of the day. There is no set cost for the experience. You simply pay for your own fish and produce and at the end of the class, you give the chefs what you think the day was worth. Dh50? Dh100? Dh300? It’s entirely up to you.