Food Friday – Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class

We took a cooking class. It was bound to happen sooner or later. There are a myriad of options when looking for cooking classes in Vietnam and we decided to go with the Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class. It’s set out on their organic farm so you have the opportunity to pick your veg and herbs to cook with later. We chose a pretty tame menu of popular Vietnamese dishes partially because we thought they looked really good but also because we want our friends and family back home to eat what we make for them in the future.

Our Menu

Our Menu

Vietnamese cooking is very fresh and is apparently one of the healthiest cuisines in the world (which is probably why my experience with it was limited). Each dish contains elements of sweet, salty, bitter, spicy and sour and used a variety of sauces (soy, fish, oyster) and herbs (mint, corriander, chill, basil) and some fruits (lime). Once you get these elements down you can basically make anything.

The first course were fresh spring rolls. I was really looking forward to these as they are a personal favourite! We made them with pork and prawns but I love that you can modify them to meet anyone with picky specific dietary needs. They were quite simple to make and I look forward to making piles of them on my next trip to the US (while pretending like they were incredibly difficult and time consuming).

The second course was the popular Banh Mi – a sandwich Anthony Bourdain has raved about. This popular baguette sandwich is eaten all over Vietnam and usually contains a combination of meat, fresh sauces, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs. There are many variations but ours were beef with a wonderful fresh sauce we made, vegetables we pickled and herbs we picked. It was a highlight (even for the really picky lady in our group who refused to eat anything except the banh mi!)

The third course was honey chicken and favorite by most people I know. We fried vermicelli noodles to put the chicken onand a wet batter consisting of flour and water. After the chicken and mushroom pieces were fried we made a honey sauce and toss it in. There’s no getting around this, Rob made the best honey chicken of the day. From this day forth he will be in charge of making this dish for our household!

The final course were banana spring rolls. Seriously, what’s better than banana mixed with sugar, wrapped and fried??? We at it with a coconut ice cream but I think when I make them at home I’ll add a caramel sauce to “Americanise” it with sugar overload. This was a great treat the end the class and fall into a nice nap on the drive home.

“The” Banh Mi

Banana Spring Rolls

Banana Spring Rolls

Rob's PERFECT Honey Chicken

Rob’s PERFECT Honey Chicken

Hailey made a pretty darn good honey chicken too

Hailey made a pretty darn good honey chicken too

My dainty, yummy fresh spring rolls

My dainty, yummy fresh spring rolls

The day's group

The day’s group

Chef showing us the organic farm

Chef showing us the organic farm

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Food Friday – Kẹo Chỉ

Vietnam is plentiful in street food options and I’m always eager to try some of it (and sometimes I actually do). The other evening we were walking along the beach and I kept seeing stalls for one food I hadn’t seen yet and heaps of people standing in line. It was the first street food that looked more on the sweet side – due to the container of powdered sugar contained in their stall arsenal. It’s sign said Kẹo Chỉ.

The modern day Kẹo Chỉ is apparently an expansion of a past Vietnamese favorite translated as “stretchy candy”, which is a part of this new version. I threw down my 10,000 VND (or 50 cents UDS) and watched some magic being worked. It starts with rice paper, then topped with coconut, sweetened condensed milk, peanuts and what appeared to be a powdered chocolate or Milo and then they add the “stretching candy”. The candy is pulled off a larger piece, dredged through a container of powdered sugar and then stretched in a billion little strands. Once it is added to the pile is is then rolled up like a burrito. It tasted like a homemade nougat-ey candy bar. Due to the fact that I was born without the ability of “moderation” I kept throwing down $10,000 VND bills at multiple stands and proceeded to ruin my dinner appetite. And may I just say, IT WAS WORTH IT!

The crowded Back Beach on a Saturday evening. Heaps of people come down from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The crowded Back Beach on a Saturday evening. Heaps of people come down from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The set up

The set up

Time for the peanuts

Time for the peanuts

Topped with chocolate powder

Topped with chocolate powder

Finally the stretching candy is added before handed over to a very hungry me

Finally the stretching candy is added before handed over to a very hungry me

Can't wait to eat a few of these!

Can’t wait to eat a few of these!

Video I found on YouTube of the Kẹo Chỉ being made. This was similar to my experience, complete with the Vietnamese I did not understand.