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.
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.
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.
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.