Hanoi Cooking Centre, Part Two: In the Kitchen!
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.
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 Pho - pho 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.
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.
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?