Vietnamese food is fantastic. There are so many varieties, so many flavors, and so many vegetarian options. In light of this, taking a cooking course somewhere in Vietnam seemed like a no-brainer.
Sadly, the class we chose in Hoi An was sub-par. It involved very little hands on experience, provided zero vegetarian recipes (though they did provide substitute ingredients for certain things, they just didn’t tell me what they were), and essentially taught us very little about Vietnamese food. That being said, I still got some good photos of our experience.
The visit to the local market was probably the best part of our class (I always love that part), though the school bumped our class from the morning to the afternoon, meaning that most of the stalls were empty or closed by the time we got there. Many of the shop keepers were enjoying their afternoon nap when we arrived. I imagine it would have been a bit more energetic in the morning, but I suppose the quiet allowed me to take a few more photos.The guide gave us several tips about how to purchase fresh fish, most of which involved touching the fish or looking at the eyes. I doubt we’d be able to do either in the US where everything is already plastic wrapped by the time you see it.Durian, my old nemesis…we meet again.The green globes at the top of the stack are a huge variety of grapefruit. We had some in Bali and they were fantastic. There’s also a variety of custard apple here that is a bit different than what we had in Peru.This woman sells fresh noodles and fish cakes.After the market tour, we took a boat ride up the river to the cooking school.At the cooking school it became clear that we were in for more demonstration than participation. We sat at chairs in front of a large table where the chef cooked up each dish like on a cooking show. Many things were already pre-cooked or pre-made and just blended together. John was the only one that participated in this part of the class, as the chef called him up to stir things as she added them to the pan.This was the first dish – a seafood salad in a pineapple bowl. Not the most delicious thing we’ve had here. (The day after our class we had an amazing vegetarian version of this salad – I wish I had the recipe for that version rather than this one.)We were taught how to make fresh rice paper, which was an interesting process but one that will be difficult to reproduce at home. We then used that rice paper to wrap spring rolls. Mine is on the left, John’s overstuffed one is on the right. He got a little overzealous with adding shrimp, and his rice paper just couldn’t take it. :)Eggplant in a clay pot, the most substantial dish we made. I honestly didn’t care for it.In the end, we made three dishes and were served two additional dishes that we didn’t have any hand in (or learn anything about.) The food wasn’t particularly good, but at least the sunset was nice.Usually when we finish a cooking class we are full, happy, and looking forward to an opportunity to try what we’ve learned. After this one we were let down, a little hungry, and wondering if there were any other cooking classes we could take in another city. Oh well, not everything can be a five star experience. Perhaps we will find one in Hanoi that will actually teach us a thing or two about Vietnamese food.