In My Kitchen, August 2016

This month, In My Kitchen takes place in a Vietnamese kitchen in Hôi An. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had arranged to do a private cooking class which took place in the back rooms of Minh Hiên Vegetarian Restaurant in Hôi An. What an amazing experience. Here is an excerpt from a future, still evolving post, highlighting some of the gems found in a Vietnamese kitchen.

Great little grater. I want one. Better than the Thai version.
Great little grater. I want one. Better than the Thai version.
Staff member using the great grater.
Staff member using the great grater.

Cooking classes not only introduce the participant to local recipes and new ingredients, but more importantly, they reinforce good technique, economy and the importance of mise en place. Vietnamese cuisine looks fast and easy to cook, but the flavour comes from careful and exacting preparation and the making of rich stocks beforehand.

The importance of Mise en place.
The importance of mise en place in Vietnamese cooking.

The tools and gadgets used on that day were perfect for each task. Long chopsticks are used for cooking, frying and stirring eggs. Turning over tofu slices with long chopsticks stops them from breaking, once you get used to handling slippery tofu in hot oil that is. Scissors are used to cut the green ends of spring onions: this part of the onion is never wasted and is also never cooked. The green part is usually cut into 2 cm pieces while the white onion end is always cooked, and is usually cut vertically.

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Mr T learns better technique.
Draining fried food without paper towels.
Draining fried food without paper towels.

Using a strainer over a bowl or saucepan is an economical and efficient way to drain fried food, and makes more sense than using paper towels. The strainer placed near the stove before any frying takes place. Above, some Banh Xeò ( crispy rice pancakes) drain before wrapping and eating. The street version of Banh Xeò includes prawn and pork in the filling. This vegetarian version substitutes hand torn oyster mushroom and thinly sliced cooked carrot. These colours resemble the colour and shapes used in the original version. The fun comes in the eating. Cut the Banh Xeò, using scissors, into two, lay it in rice paper, add lettuce, long strips of cucumber and mint, roll and dip in a special sauce made from fermented soya beans. Recipe will be coming soon.

A couple of nice blokes playing in a kitchen is a joy to behold. Here Nhien and Mr T are discussing technique. More on this amazing cooking school in a future post.

Nhien and Mr T discuss technique in a Vietnamese Kictehn
Nhien and Mr T discuss technique in a Vietnamese Kitchen.

Minh Hien Vegetarian Restaurant

50 Trần Cao Vân, tp. Hội An, Vietnam

44 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, August 2016”

    1. Yes, just the two of us. I can’t do big classes anymore as they tend to waste time with basics and spring rolls. I am trying to do a post or two on this class but sometimes the brain is a bit overheated but they will come. Now I’m in Hue and thinking about doing another one- they have offered me the following menu- fish with caramel in clay pot and tofu in tomato sauce and eggplant with lemongrass and chili – but at $39 it is costly ( in local terms) and Mr T wants to spend his $39 on another pair of good shoes. Oh the dilemma of travel. I wish you were here, you could come with me.

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      1. Yes 😊 and will be for a while yet. At Wyndham in WA. Long way from TA but doesn’t feel like it. Having the best weather, time… moving at a pace we’re enjoying.

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  1. Those pancakes look absolutely scrumptious and I’m jealous, they have a double gas cooktop. I think every single traveller brings home one of those graters, but they are good. Don’t buy kiwi knives over there, much cheaper in asian grocers here. I’m still exhaling and slumping………

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    1. I have a large order for the magic graters- now up to 10. At 58 cents a pop, pretty good value. And plan to buy one of those double gas cooktops in Victoria st on my return, or in your favourite suburb, Preston. Time to get my outside kitchen going. I feel your pain.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks great. Bookmarked for my own future adventures. Banh Xeo are a fave – I am always disappointed when you go to a Viet restaurant and can only get them at lunch time and not dinner. A rare sighting of Mr T!

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