So the hubby and I have been travelling quite a bit, especially while we were living the life in Europe the last four years. Our Lonely Planet collection is rather impressive I must say. These guide books have been our constant companion on our travels and their recommendations have been mostly spot-on. We’ve had fantastic meals from the comprehensive lists of restaurants, excellent walking tours, handy tips and tricks and not to forget the ‘express’ language lessons towards the end of the books.
Now, this particular activity in Ho Chi Minh City came as a surprise. I wasn’t expecting to do very much while we were in Saigon this time round as we were mainly there for the wedding of hubby’s baby bro. However, we saw this cooking class recommendation in LP, and thought we’d call and check it out. It turned out to be loads of delicious fun!!
We arrived at the villa which was about 20 minutes outside of the city. Its peaceful and homely environment was a world away from the crazy, busyness of the city. The classroom was set up like a quaint version of the Masterchef kitchen with individual wooden and bamboo stations and the decor included old style furniture, pictures, pots and pans.
The teacher/chef did not speak English, but the lovely interpreter was always there explaining things clearly and even assisting with some of the tasks at hand. She was helpful and very friendly.
While we waited for all the students to arrive, we were served hot tea and candied ginger. Yum! Soon enough, the class commenced and we proceeded to our prep stations, where we cut, julienned, grated and sliced through all the ingredients required for our first dish.
Deep fried vietnamese spring rolls – need I say more? We had minced pork, woodear fungus, yam and crab meat. With everything prepped, we proceeded to our cooking station where a whole row of condiments, herbs and spices awaited. We were taken through the various steps to prepare the spring rolls, the perfect way to roll them and fry them.
That’s me waiting for the spring rolls to cook and the lady in yellow was helping my mum-in-law with hers. We couldn’t wait to tuck in to our spring rolls! Oh before I forget – the skin for these spring rolls were special netted versions only available in Saigon. The netting allowed the oil to cook the spring rolls thoroughly and ‘drain’ itself after cooking. This produced an extremely crispy spring roll (it apparently should stay crispy for up to four hours).
Those were the most delicious spring rolls I’ve ever had. Not blowing my own trumpet, but seriously…they were amazing! It’s no surprise that I went to the market in search of those netted skins. I have ten packets sitting in my pantry now.
The second dish we learnt to cook was Caramel Pork. This is a popular local dish and can be found in restaurants as well as in homes. Before we crunched into our spring rolls, we had to get the pork marinated. There was an astonishing amount of sugar in there, but it’s not called caramel pork for nothing.
This dish was savoury, sweet and just perfect served with steamed rice with coconut juice. I can’t wait to try this out at home…oh maybe I should get myself a cute little claypot too!?
Sour clam soup with dill – My all time favourite dish while I was in Vietnam. I was stoked that this dish was included in this class. I first tried it the evening before in Cuc Gach Quan, and I was so excited that I could learn how to to cook it!
The soup is made up of lots of fresh herbs – namely dill, spring onions, green starfruit, tomatoes and chilli. Simple ingredients, but such amazing fresh flavours. I love this soup. I will be making it sometime soon, so watch this space!
Once both the pork and soup were cooked, the whole group of us sat down and enjoyed the meal together. It’s such a great activity to do together with friends and family. If you have three hours to spare while visiting Ho Chi Minh City, make a booking with these guys! Lots of fun with food.
Vietnam Cookery School
362/8 Ung Van Khiem St, Binh Thanh District,
Ho Chi Minh City , VIETNAM
Tel: +848 351 22 764