food for thought

by michelle

cooking class in Hoi An part 3

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In my last post ‘cooking class in Hoi An part 2’ I included the first two recipes we cooked in our day class. But what would Vietnamese food be without it’s salads? The next dish we learnt how to make was a grilled chicken and banana flower salad. Sliced chicken breasts were first marinated in a little soy sauce, sugar, pepper and a pinch of Vietnamese five spice. These were grilled until cooked through and allowed to cool. The other salad ingredients were 1 cup of finely sliced banana flower (washed in a bowl of vinegar and salt to remove any bitterness), 1 cup of grated green papaya, ½ a cup of grated green mango, ¼ of a cup of grated carrot, 1 finely sliced red chilli, 2 finely sliced spring onions and some finely sliced water spinach stems. If any of these ingredients prove too difficult to find they can be replaced with others of your choosing.

salad

salad3

All of these ingredients were combined with ½ a cup each of mint and Vietnamese mint, ¼ of a cup of asian basil, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon of fried shallots and some of the oil (see secret recipes) and 1 tablespoon of sugar. The dressing was made with the juice of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon each of fish sauce and crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Some outside leaves of the banana flower were reserved for serving the salad which was accompanied by some crispy rice paper grilled over hot coals.

salad4

Last but not least was Cha Ca. In Hanoi there is a restaurant that has a long history of making only this dish of claypot fish with fresh dill.

fish1fish-2Chunks of firm white fish were combined with ½ a teaspoon of finely chopped fresh turmeric, a little vegetable oil and some salt and pepper and allowed to marinate for one hour. The fish was then cooked over hot coals to firm the flesh. Next we pounded 2 cloves of garlic, 3 shallots and half a red chilli in a mortar. This mixture was cooked in some vegetable oil in a clay pot until it was beginning to brown before adding 1 tablespoon of sugar. When the mixture was a deep golden colour we added 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and ½ a cup of water, bringing it to boil before adding the fish and simmering for 10 minutes. Lastly, a large handful of fresh dill and a handful of peanuts were added. The fish was served with steamed rice.

fish-3

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