Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cooking Course: Hanoi

We arrived at the Old Hanoi Restaurant and our lovely instructor was waiting and ready to head to the market to show us the ingredients we would need for the 4 courses we would be cooking. We love the open-air wet marketing in the Old Quarter and had come across it a few days before.

The first dish was Hanoi Cha Ca (Hanoi-style crispy fish, made with snake fish).

The most interesting part of the class was all the ingredients, from fresh turmic vs. powdered, rice pastes, dry shredded por and all the individual curry powders.

The next dish was what Northern Vietnamese call Nem and Southern Vietnamese call Cho Goi and we call eggrolls. All the ingredients were pre-measured and laid out, all we had to do was chop away and combine. Our instructor was very impressed with Mike’s chopping skills.

We got a lesson on the different rice papers and which ones were used for cooking and which ones worked best for fresh rolls. Once we knew the difference we were ready to make our eggrolls!

Then we cooked them and ate them right away! Nothing beats fresh from the oil eggrolls!

The next dish we made was an Imperial Rice dish made with shrimp and vegetables. Again more chopping and extensive list of herbs and spices.

Our three individual plates of shrimp, fresh vegetables, herbs and spices was then combined, sautéed and packed in a bowl with rice for a lovely presentation.

For presentation the bowl is then turned upside and voila – doesn’t that look yummy?

By the time the rice was done we were ready for the hotplate cooked Hanoi crispy fish, served traditionally with all the fixings to make your own rolls. We had these the night before and it was delicious so we were ready dig in!

Our course included a dessert as well and our final dish was a traditional Vietnamese dessert called Che. This particular one was made with fresh ginger and sweet potatoes. Light, refreshing and soothing to the belly.

The cooking class at the Old Hanoi Restaurant was what we were hoping, except for the fact that we didn’t get to see the Hanoi Cha Ca fish actually cooked on the hot plate, so we grilled our instructor on specifics. The dishes we made, excluding the eggrolls, were new to us and we are excited to try them at home. The preparation of the spices was the most informative and we were glad we decided to take this particular class.

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