Taste The Soul Of Hanoi – Literally
As a person who is passionate about cooking, I decided to attend a cooking class while my family went exploring the other tourist attractions of Hanoi. Apart from discovering the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine, I had the chance to tour the local market, try bargaining, and gain more knowledge about the country’s rich culture through its food.
At first I intended to enroll at Hanoi Cooking Centre since it was listed by CNN in the top 10 greatest International cooking classes. However, later that day, I found out that there was another cooking class right next to our hotel, so I went there instead. And it was a right decision! The class was high-quality, lovely and at a reasonable price.
Before the class started, we walked around Chau Long market to buy the fresh ingredients normally used in Vietnamese cuisine. The atmosphere was vibrant and energetic with countless stalls and booths when we could bargain a little to have a better price, which was fun for me. After that, we walked to the class location which was inside a big restaurant. It was crystal clean, modern, beautifully organized and absolutely Instagram-worthy. I was given an apron, a head piece and gloves, and then our cooking class began.
My teachers were the top chefs that had mastered in traditional Vietnamese food. They were all nice, patient and attentive. The instructions were clear, easy to follow and besides they gave me many tips and cool techniques in cooking in general. One group had only around ten people so that we could all get personalized attention and quality interactive lesson.
I chose three dishes to learn when signing up for the class: pickled salad, fried spring rolls and peanut sweet soup because they were the dishes my kids loved the most in Vietnam. It would be fun surprising them at home with my skills!
For starters we watched the chef provided demonstrations for each dish at the front of the kitchen. The other chef guided our group step-by-step to make things perfect. The first dishes we made was the pickled bean sprout salad with pineapple, cucumber and chilies. Sounded like a strange choice of ingredients to go together but ittasted good. The color was vibrant and eye-catching because all ingredients were 100% fresh and organic. The chefs even taught us how to cut the vegetables in a way that presented them nicely on the plate.
The next dish was spring rolls, and it was slightly more complicated. But it was definitely my favorite dish! We used the traditional ingredients: lean minced pork, unshelled shrimps, mushroom, dried onion, chicken eggs and different kinds of secret seasoning. All of them were mixed thoroughly before being wrapped with rice paper into small rolls. My rolls were crooked and uneven but it didn’t matter – they were all crispy and mouth-watering after being fried. I was so proud of my effort that I even took the spring rolls home to brag about to my family. I believed that the greatest secret of these spring rolls lied in the dipping sauce. A quality dipping sauce bowl for this dish must be a harmonious combination of flavors such as lemon juice, sugar, pepper and the best fish sauce – something I could not have manage without the helping hands of my teachers. And before you ask, yes, I have the recipe.
Spring rolls . CREDIT: ggooodercom.files.wordpress.com
For the dessert, we made Vietnamese peanuts sweet soup. It was the most fun since I just had a giant sweet-tooth. The recipe is relatively simple, and the result was amazing. The combination of peanuts, lotus seeds, coconut juice and milk were a feast for taste-buds, purely awesome. My kids would definitely be obsessed with this addicting sweet soup!
After finishing cooking, we were led to the dining room to enjoy our own efforts. All of my dishes came out really good and I was complimented by the chefs. However I made too much food and ended up skipping dinner.
I was so satisfied with this cooking class that I recommended my family to join me in the next class I enrolled. The great thing about this tour-class was that you got to drive in the appealing culture first-hand: by chopping, cooking, tasting, smelling, eating, and not just sitting inside of a bus listening to commentary. And you got to eat what you produced!