Cooking in Hoi An


Cooking in Hoi An

In 2006 I did a cookery class in Ho Chi Minh City. I adore Vietnamese food so was very excited to learn how to make dishes such as fresh spring rolls and caramel fish. Last week I was back in Vietnam visiting the fantastic city of Hoi An and as I was handed my menu at the Morning Glory restaurant I spotted their flyer for cookery classes. Thrillingly they had a course for keen home cooks and professional chefs.

There were many fantastic parts to my holiday but that course was definitely a high point. In addition to a tour of the food markets and lots of tasting of the weird and wonderful food of the country (jelly fish salad was… interesting but I’m afraid I drew the line at eating a duck embryo) I acquired some cool new gadgets for the kitchen and covered a wide range of new techniques. If ever you need some help preparing a Pomelo, give me a call.

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The first dish I made was a spicy clam soup. It had a very fast and intense stock (can you spot the huge chunks of fresh ginger in there) which I loved. However, the majority of people in my class found it far too hot and spicy to eat so it’s definitely a dish I’ll only be cooking for my husband.

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Next up was a pomelo and prawn salad. It had many stages and several dressings for the component ingredients. It was complex and¬†perfectly balanced. It gave me lots to think about and I can’t wait to start experimenting with alternatives to the ingredients not available in the UK.

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The final dish blew my mind. We marinated fish then cooked it briefly over fire before finishing it in a wok. They cook over fire a lot in Vietnam (no prizes for guessing why I fell in love with the country) but this was very new to me.

I’ve always been taught to handle fish gently and as dry overcooked fish is a kitchen crime, I was amazed that it could be cooked twice. The key, we were told, is to choose fish with a high fat content and work quickly. Well, I’m sure you can guess what’s on the menu this weekend. I’m going to buy several types of fish and test them out.

I hope you’ve been experiencing new and exciting things.

Flame on!

Kathryn

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