Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hoi An, Vietnam: Red Bridge Cooking School

Chef Thanh pointed to the large mirror above his cooking demonstration table, "Vietnamese TV." Our international group of 20 had arrived at the school via a 25-minute scenic boat ride on the Hoi An River. After each demonstration, the chef ordered, "Now you try. If you don’t do it right do it again – at home!" Each participant had their own gas burner with all the necessary ingredients laid out by the staff. Chef Thanh’s quick wit and snappy patter made me wonder if he was practicing for a spot on the cooking channel. We learned to prepare a complete Vietnamese meal including how to make rice paper and food decorations. I will need more practice to make attractive food decorations. Chef Thanh’s advice, "If you make a mistake – eat it!" However I think making rice paper requires too much work and skill. For more information contact Red Bridge Restaurant & Cooking School, www.visithoian.com.

Vietnamese Eggplant in Clay Pot - Serves 4
1 Medium sized clay pot (or thick metal pot)
2 Asian (long & thin) eggplants cut into strips of ½ inch pieces
Root of 1 lemongrass, crushed
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of water
Cooking mixture
1 ½ tablespoons of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of sugar (or tablespoon of honey or pineapple juice)
½ teaspoon of salt
2 cups of water

Add water, lemongrass, and salt to the pot, and bring to a boil. Add the eggplant and continue boiling for 3 minutes. Drain all the water from the pot, then add the cooking mixture and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until tender.
NB: traditionally the eggplant is deep-fried first, drained before adding to the pot. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Hoi An Pancakes – serves 2-4
1 cup dried rice flour
1½ cups water
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon of turmeric powder (or curry or saffron)
Mix all together, leave at room temperature for one hour.
6 ounces pork (or any other meat)
vegetable oil
10 ounces of small shrimps (or any other seafood)
2 thinly sliced onions
8 ounces of bean sprouts
Topping Mix

Lay out mint leaves, coriander, Vietnamese basil, thinly sliced carrots and banana flower (or cabbage) as if for a salad.
Packet of rice paper

Cut the pork into thin slices. Heat oil in a wok or non–stick frying pan and cook 3 or 4 slices of the pork for a minute or two. Add 3 shrimps and cook for 1 minute. Stir the batter and pour just enough into the pan to create a thin layer. Top with a few bean sprouts and onions. Fry over medium heat until the bottom of the pancake is crisp. Fold the pancake in half and turn out onto a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients, adding a little oil to the frying pan for each pancake. To eat to pancake, add a little topping mix, and wrap it in a rice paper. Dip it into a peanut sauce before eating.

No comments:

Post a Comment