Hanoi Cooking Centre, Part Two: In the Kitchen!

May 20, 2011

And so here we are, in the kitchen of the Hanoi Cooking Centre. In case you missed it, here is Part One of this fabulous day of market touring, chef observation, learning, cooking and feasting! It all sounds rather grand doesn’t it?…well it kind of was.

We were presented with a little gift upon settling into the class- an apron and recipe booklet, which included all that we were to make this day. Fabulous. I do love a gift that is both practical and nostalgic. In my experience of overseas cooking schools (3 and counting), the good ones do love to hand out customised aprons.

We had two young trainee chefs, Koto students, guiding us through our menu. Forgive me for forgetting their names, it has been four months since our trip! Our instructors were super friendly and clearly excited to be teaching the class, in fact it was their first class flying solo. They did a tremendous job. Their English was quite good and they were truly thrilled to be passing on their skills and guiding us through these fun couple of hours.

Both instructors stood up front and demonstrated how to cook the meals, as we prepared ingredients and helped in the cooking process. Some components, like the pho broth, were already made, and we didn’t exactly have free run of the wok, but we really felt like we got our hands dirty and picked up some valuable tips. Ben and I always wish we could cook everything ourselves though.

Enough chatter, let me show you what we got up to in the kitchen! As I said in Part One, we signed up for the Vietnamese Street Food class.

First up, we tried the Bánh Chưng. Tracey bought this for us at the market after seeing me positively buzzing with curiosity and incessantly asking questions.

The dividing…

and the tasting… it was quite nice. A mouthful of glutinous rice, slightly claggy, with some bits of meat in the centre. Apparently it is even better fried. Well, I can understand that, who couldn’t.

A quick taste of Beef Phopho is always welcome. The broth had been prepared earlier, and we simply observed the assembling of our bowls. Delicious. Absolutely delicious. A subtle broth which I could happily eat every single day for the rest of my life.

Our bowls were topped with noodles, beef strips, fresh herbs and fried doughnut logs, of which I’m not a huge fan. These logs taste a little bland to me.

Herby Omelette. This is apparently popular with kids before school, or as a general snack. Often the omelette is devoured in a baguette, yum! This was really delicious. So fragrant from the herbs and the egg completely melted in your mouth.

With a sprinkle of this, to finish.

Rice Paper Rolls. No surprises here, really. I’ve had a lot of rice paper rolls in my time. These ones were especially delicious, though, thanks to the supremely fresh and plentiful herbs. We added already cooked thin beef strips, loads of fresh vegetables and herbs, crispy shallots and rolled away.

Banh Tom – sweet potato and prawn fritters. These were fun to make!

We made a batter and combined it with sweet potato strips and shrimps. These were really yummy – crunchy, sweet and very flavourful. If you want to try them out at home a) be careful of the oil, and b) see this link here for what looks to be a good recipe.

Peeling vegetables for our Goi Du Du, green papaya salad. I adored these little peelers.

This salad…what can I say apart from wow?

Ok, I’ll try to say something more. Fresh, sharp, soft, crunchy, amazing, yes. Yes. How was that? Check out Anh‘s recipe and make something similar and beautiful yourself (link).

These bananas were as incredible as they looked. What makes banana even better? Grilling it, and letting the sugars caramelise down to a ridiculous log of sweet, heavenly lusciousness. These babies were sprinkled with sugar before letting a blow-torch go to town on them.

We used the bananas in our dessert, Che Chuoi, bananas in coconut soup. Finished with a sprinkling of peanuts, this dish was light, sweet and all-round scrumptious. A quick recipe search led me to these links (1, 2, 3), so now you can try this delightful dessert yourselves.

And that concludes our delicious day. We ate our creations with a glass of wine, as we chatted to our new cooking class comrades. I would definitely recommend Hanoi Cooking Centre to travellers looking for a fun day out, where you get to learn about a foreign cuisine, pick up some cooking tips and indulge in a fabulous feast! At a tidy 50 USD, this class really was very enjoyable.

I am still after the best ever overseas cooking class, where you get to purchase and then make everything yourself. Am I dreaming? Perhaps they don’t exist. One can only hope…hope and partake in as many cooking trips as possible. Hey, it’s all in the name of research. And cooking class trumps museums, we established that, right?

Heidi xo

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  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) May 20, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I love how vibrant the lettuce is in that first pic!

  • Blithely Unaware May 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Oh my god that ALL looks A M A Z I N G.

    How good is gelatinous rice!!? In the Philippines we make our little diamond shaped baskets from banana leaves for the rice, so pretty. I suggested to Hamish that they do it at the restaurant, unfortunately it's a lot of work on top of the prep they already do 🙁 🙁 🙁

  • Lisa May 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    That all looks stunning! I missed out on a cooking class when I was in Vietnam, I must squeeze one in the next time. I am most definitely missing Pho, I've tracked down a couple of places in Canberra but it isn't the same as from a street vendor.

  • Heavenly Ingredients May 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    sounds amazing! I think that most people who turn up at those classes don't really cook all that much at home, so I'm not surprised they 'help' you out.

    do you have a favourite pho recipe? or do you make it at home?

  • Hannah May 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Green papaya salad owns my heart, but I've had so many lacklustre versions. Make me yours? 😉

  • Indie.Tea May 20, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    The class looks so informative, and fun too. The fritters and the bananas in coconut soup are new to me – they both look so good. And the soup is especially creative!

  • Indie.Tea May 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    O, and re: your comment on Alice Medrich, I just heard of her a few months ago myself. She's my baking idol now…I just bought her newest book today.
    And she lives in Northern California, so she's local to me, so a lot of local shops carry her books.

  • Michelle Chin May 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I'm so envious of your experiences. Sigh, i'm stuck with my essays for the mo. No holidays for me. 🙁

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Ewerything looks scrumptious and the class looks very easy to follow too! OK when we visit Vietnam we're definitely booking into a class! 😀

  • Kath (My Funny Little Life) May 21, 2011 at 2:43 am

    How wonderful! The Bánh chưng looks amazing, is it maybe like a savory mochi rice cake? 😀 And I *loved* the herby omelette! So many herbs! 😀 😀 😀

  • Heidi May 21, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Lisa – it was all super super fresh and vibrant!

    Blithely Unaware – yes I can imagine it would be extra work, but it sounds amazing!! They should do it as a special one night!

    Lisa – Im missing pho too – but we only have to travel for 30 mins to get a good bowl, lucky 🙂

    Laura – we have a couple of recipes that we want to try out but haven't gotten around to it yet! bad heidi…..but we so want to!! Soon 🙂

    Hannah – I know, I need to dig out my recipe (I still haven't unpacked my bookshelf after moving *blush*)

    Indie.Tea – I will totally look out for her book, thanks!! & yes the soup was brilliant 🙂

    Michelle – oh *hugs* I remember what it was like being a student. Push through, you'll get there!!

    Lorraine – yes do! If not for anything than market tours and a fun, easy but informative cooking experience 🙂

    Kath – I know, SO many herbs. It was fantastic 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • The InTolerant Chef May 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    What fun, I like to do it all myself too though! The teachers must have felt so proud with their first class too. Yumm… I wnt to try that salad!

  • chutneyandspice May 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Heidi
    You've got me so hungry for visiting Vietnam, what a great experience. Your photos are stunning and really show off the colours and textures of the food. I like the idea of the omlette snack for children on the way to school, in a baguette, I'm going to try that with my children as they love omlettes. I might lay off the chilli shaker! As for me I would love to try those rolls, they look so fresh and inticing. I'm always really please to see your blog updates in my inbox.

  • Heidi May 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    InTolerant Chef – oh it was amazing!! & yes they must have felt so proud 🙂 they did a fantastic job!

    chutneyandspice – how lovely 🙂 that makes me so happy, thank you. Yes the omelette in a baguette is a great idea for the kids! But you're right, ease off on the chilli 😛

    Heidi xo

  • blackbookkitchendiaries May 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    wow! so much fun!! makes me miss Vietnam:)

  • Heidi May 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    It's making me miss it too, blackbookkitchendiaries 🙂 xo

  • Mel January 26, 2017 at 4:22 am

    Hey Heidi 🙂
    I have been following you on instagram for a while but only recently have delved into your blog and I’ve fallen in love! I’ve started from the first post and I’m working my way along chronologically and I’m loving it all! I have the same passion for food and a similar view on eating so I’m really enjoying reading through all of your posts 🙂
    After reading this post, I just wanted to tell you about an amazing cooking class I did in Como, Italy, just 2 months ago. It was a private cooking class I did with my mum. Paula invites you into her home and kitchen and takes you through 3-4 classic Italian dishes and it is all hands on! We were able to participate in everything we made. You decide on a menu with her prior to going so you can choose dishes you want to learn how to make. At the end we sat down with her family and all ate together. And it was all so delicious! And so lovely to talk to her and ask her many questions about Italian food and cooking. It was a wonderful, authentic cooking experience. It was a little pricey at about 160 euro per person but we loved it. Here is the link to her website. http://www.passionandcooking.com/course/
    I know it’s all the way over in Italy but if you plan a trip over there I highly recommend it 🙂 Ok, I’m going to keep reading through your posts 😉
    Mel xx

    • Heidi January 26, 2017 at 9:07 am

      Hi Mel! What a flashback, looking back over this post! Thanks 🙂 and thank you for the cooking class recommendation. That sounds soooo good, and I will definitely keep it in mind! Thanks for the sweet words x