I loved the fresh food in Vietnam and particularly Hoi An. The use of fresh herbs packs flavour into the dishes and broths. I had to take a cooking course and this seemed like the perfect place.
I had read about my Grandmothers cooking course through Trip Advisor, the boat trip to a local village sold me.
On the day of the class, we took a boat ride about 30 minutes up the river out of Hoi An to a local village.
When we arrived, our teacher Thom, took us to her grandmothers house where she grew up. We walked through a local village, quite remote in comparison to the lantern filled streets of Hoi An.
Thom’s Grandmother was the cutest little lady with a big gummy smile. Still working at 88 she weaves mats used for beds and dressing tables.
What I liked about this course was the authenticity.
Before cooking, we learnt about the old methods of getting the husks of rice and then sorting the grain from the husk. After this, the rice is beaten to make the white colour appear which makes it safer to eat.
As well as this we crushed the rice to make the rice milk used for the pancakes. The machine used is much like a pessal and mortar and is still used today but with a machine to push the mechanism.
When we had enough rice milk, we went to the clay oven to make our own rice pancakes.
The husks from the rice are used to fuel the fire and then a pot is placed over the heat with water. On top of this is a thin cloth.
The milk is poured onto the cloth and smoothed into a circle. Then cover for a few minutes to steam.
Using a bamboo stick, you can slide the underneath and remove the rice pancake. And yes, my polka dot legs are the result of a mosquito biting frenzy.
Usually they are left to dry out but we used ours whilst moist in one of the recipes.
We started with marinated pork skewers which we then put into rice rolls. The pork was marinated in lemongrass, shallots and garlic with some seasoning and sauces. We used a claypot BBQ to cook the meat and then rolled this with fresh greens and herbs with dipping sauce. It was SO delicious.
After this we made a papaya salad with nuts, carrots and chilli dressing.
A dish found throughout Vietnam is a pork and prawn pancake. I thought this was made from egg but we just used rice flour and water and left this in the pan on one side to crisp.
Beansprouts and fresh greens are added and we rolled the pancake into rice paper to make dipping rolls.
To finish we made a claypot chicken dish.
Usually you would do fish but some of the ocean fish in Vietnam can be dangerous at the moment so chicken worked just fine.
After we ate everything at a table and then explored the village to burn off all the food we ate.
It was the best class I have done yet, mainly as it was much more interactive and informative and a little lighter than some of the fried dishes I have done previously.
Definitely worth a visit if your in Hoi An!