Taking time out to enjoy a Vietnamese Cooking Class while in HoiAn will let you enjoy a classic Vietnamese meal and learn a bit about healthy cooking in general. Here are two examples of travelers’ experiences taking a Vietnamese Cooking Class:
Hoi An’s Red Bridge Cooking School
By Sandra Scott
Written on 18 June 2008
Cooking lesson in Hoi An includes market tour, boat ride, lesson, and a meal all for $18. (Editor’s note – as of June 2008)
I visited Vietnam ten years ago and the images of the beautiful scenery and friendly people have stayed with me. Many things have changed in the past ten years. Tourism has grown by leaps and bounds but the country is still beautiful and the people still friendly. The city Hoi An is great for exploring, shopping, dining – and learning how to cook. On my first trip to Vietnam I developed a love for Vietnamese food. There are many places that offered Vietnamese cooking lessons but the Red Bridge Cooking School had received rave reviews – now I know why.
A group of 20 wannabe chefs met at the Hai Café at 8:15 in the morning and got acquainted over a cup of ginger tea. With Het as the guide for my group of six, we walked to the morning market where she showed us all the ingredients we would use in our recipes. She pointed out that ginger and turmeric may look alike but the turmeric is orange on the inside. She introduced us to fruits and vegetables I had never seen before such as banana flowers, dragon fruit, and bitter melon. As professional as an infomercial reporter, she showed us how to use some very unique, essential, and inexpensive Vietnamese cooking utensils, which of course, I just had to buy.
After the market tour, we boarded a boat for the 25-minute ride on the Hoi An River to the cooking school. The ride was worth the price. I loved watching the fishermen cast their nets and seeing life along the river. We arrived at a small town and walked to the cooking school. I was impressed with the pastel-colored homes that looked freshly painted. At the school, Het continued our education by explaining about the various herbs growing in the school’s garden.
The lesson started in an open-air pavilion next to the river. We were given clipboards, the recipes, and a pen to take notes. Chef Thanh pointed to the mirror strategically placed about his table, “Vietnamese TV. You can see everything. If you pay good attention you will make a good lunch. If not you have do it again – but at home!”
We watched as Chef Thanh deftly sliced the papaya, mango, lotus root, banana flower, carrots, cucumber, and onions for the Seafood Salad while telling us what can be substituted if we can not get the traditional ingredients. He added the sliced shallots, shrimp, squid, crushed ginger, and black pepper. In the end everything was tossed together. “Ok, Now you try! Go to your cooking stations.”
Each cooking station had a gas hotplate with all the ingredients and utensils laid out for us. The lesson continued in that manner. Chef Thanh demonstrated, then we cooked. We made Vietnamese Eggplant in Clay Pot. “Back to your seats. Watching a clay pot is very boring.” The hardest thing of all to master was the art of making Fresh Rice Paper. I love Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls, but I doubt I will ever be able to make the rice paper from scratch. It isn’t just preparing the rice batter that is the problem. A scoop of batter is placed on a piece of thin white cotton above a pot of boiling water, then covered. The trick is knowing exactly when the rice paper was ready. Only a few of us ended up with a perfect one! The kitchen helpers made sure we all had one perfect one even if they had to make it for us. I filled mine with the veggie and shrimp mix but could not roll it so it looked professional. Takes practice for sure!
The Hoi An Pancakes were much easier. It was back to our frying pans at our cooking stations. We started with two capfuls of oil, “Vietnamese teaspoon,” Chef Thanh quipped. “It is hot enough when you can smell it. If it smokes it is too hot and you will be a human pancake!”
The last lesson dealt with food decorations. I will need more practice for this, too. Try as I might I had trouble slicing the cucumber thin enough to curl into a Vietnamese Fan. When one would break because it was too thick, Thanh said, “Eat your mistakes!” I ate quite a few!
We watched, we cooked, we sampled, and then, to my amazement we went to the dining area and had Vietnamese Eggplant in Clay Pot, which I had forgotten all about! It was finally ready but by that time we were all quite full!
It was a wonderful morning. Sated and relaxed I enjoy the boat ride back to Hoi An with a new appreciation for the Vietnamese food and the skill it takes to prepare.
via Everywhere: Articles: Hoi An’s Red Bridge Cooking School.
ANOTHER FINE VIETNAMESE COOK BOOK FROM AMAZON
Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors
by: Andrea Nguyen
publisher: Ten Speed Press, published: 2006-10-01
sales rank: 15548
price: $20.99 (new), $20.99 (used)
When author Andrea Nguyen’s family was airlifted out of Saigon in 1975, one of the few belongings that her mother hurriedly packed for the journey was her small orange notebook of recipes. Thirty years later, Nguyen has written her own intimate collection of recipes, INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN, an ambitious debut cookbook that chronicles the food traditions of her native country. Robustly flavored yet delicate, sophisticated yet simple, the recipes include steamy pho noodle soups infused with the aromas of fresh herbs and lime; rich clay-pot preparations of catfish, chicken, and pork; classic bánh mì sandwiches; and an array of Vietnamese charcuterie. Nguyen helps readers shop for essential ingredients, master core cooking techniques, and prepare and serve satisfying meals, whether for two on a weeknight or 12 on a weekend.Reviews
“Andrea Nguyen may be to Vietnamese food what Julia Child was to French fare and Barbara Tropp to Chinese cuisine.”—Chicago Tribune“Best for: Anyone who wants to fall in love—truly, madly, deeply—with Vietnamese food.”—San Jose Mercury News“[A] smart, soulful collection of Vietnamese recipes.”—Saveur“A comprehensive take on a delicate yet dynamic cuisine.”—Philadelphia Inquirer“No other author has presented such a detailed account of the culinary abilities of Vietnamese home cooks, and subjects like the role of pickled vegetables and the techniques of charcuterie have never been so clearly explained for a wide audience.”—New York Times”Only now is Vietnamese food culture getting the attention it deserves, and a book of this beauty and seriousness will do much to explain the origins, traditions, and refinement of the country’s cuisine.”—John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet“Nguyen makes Vietnamese cuisine accessible with this extensive cookbook, which stretches from soup to charcuterie.”—Houston Chronicle“An impressive, carefully researched, and thoroughly readable guide to Vietnamese food and culinary tradition.”—Library Journal
Enjoy taking a Vietnamese cooking class at home or while traveling in Vietnam!
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