Vietnamese Cooking

Monday, April 27th, 2009

After a very entertaining Thai Cooking class, I was eager to compare it with Vietnamese cooking in Hoi An. Our guide Huy set up our group with a dinnertime class, which was nice it that it took care of dinner and left the day free for the beach and clothes shopping.

This class was “family style” at Gioan, where all of us sat around the table chopping ingredients and then cooked one batch together. Our teacher Vinam was very sweet and energetic; she gave us all vegetable names (I was “Lemongrass”) and jokingly threatened to put us in the corner if we didn’t pay attention. (I was too tired and sunburnt that night to go crazy with my camera, so I stayed in her good graces.)

The ingredients were similar to the Thai dishes, though with less intensive preparation. The one exception were some ingredients that had to be wrung out or juiced by the “big strong men”: Barn “Green Papaya”, Matt “Aubergine”, Chris “Cucumber”, and myself.

We learned how to roll and fry the spring rolls we’d been enjoying all week, as well as make a surprising green papaya salad, and fish wrapped in banana leaves. Vinam was flexible with all the recipes, making vegetarian substitutions for Jenn (”Baby Onion”), and suggesting less exotic ingredients we might be able to find at home.

With 5 dishes, several rounds of drinks, and an impromptu fashion show of some of our new clothes , it was a long but enjoyable night learning some new recipes.


Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Hot from the oven I got a craving for chicken enchiladas last night; photos are in the April album and on the menu page.

Frontera Salsa at Crate and Barrel

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Since it was a rainy day not good for much else, I finally went to check out Crate and Barrel and made an interesting discovery: they sell Frontera salsas! My college roommate Brian introduced me to it, and he and Merle took me to Rick Bayless’s restaurant the last time I was in Chicago. A very cool find, which was unfortunately lost on the uninpressed woman standing next to me.

I was also looking for a liquor cabinet/wine rack to replace the trusty one I built in college, but $1000 was a little rich for my blood. (That’s a lot of Finger Lakes reisling!) A woman from work summed up the predicament well a few years ago while furnishing her first place out of school: “I have Crate and Barrel tastes, but an Ikea budget.”