Thursday, May 6, 2010


10 days in Vietnam in April this year. Not long enough, but a good intro to this wondeful place. Why Vietnam? Because of the food and because it seemed to be the only destination Mark and I could agree on and the airfares from Darwin are incredibly cheap... I just want to say "Do it!" What a wonderful place, with so many lovely people and such great food. My food highlights were:
Red Bridge Cooking School
Hoi An White Rose Dumplings
Tamarind Sorbet
DIY Hot Pot Restaurant
.. and possibly more, but I just can't remember right now.
Each morning, at breakfast, we were confronted with a stunning array of food: Vietnamese, French, American, Chinese, Japanese... without doubt, we would always head for the fruit.
The photo here is typical of the morning spread.. but the most amazing fruit of all was the brown fruit at the back, which I believe is a type of sapote. I did some internet research and discovered it is a different variety to the black sapote you get here in Australia. It is originally from Central/South America, and was introduced to the Phillipines and then to Southern Vietnam. What an amazing experience. A bit like eating a butterscotch fruit pudding. We even went to the Ben Thanh market and bought our own supply.
No sapote in Hoi An, but wonderful food. One of the local specialities are the White Rose dumplings, which look like little white roses with minced prawn and pork in the middle and sprinkled with crisp onion flakes. While in Hoi An, I tracked down the Red Bridge Cooking School and spent an afternoon in this beautiful location with my son Jorge, cooking many things, most memorable were the home made Vietnamese rice pancakes. Now I've since followed the recipe, and it just doesn't seem to work for me. Have I got the wrong type of rice, the wrong type of cloth, the wrong type of pot.. any ideas, anyone?
Jorge never eats eggplant, but we cooked this lovely simple dish, and he loved it. Not a great photo, but you get the general idea. The chef/teacher was a very funny fellow. Laconic.. yes, that is how I would describe him. And he made us wash our hands many times. I did start to wonder if food hygiene was particularly good in Vietnam, which is perhaps why we got no food upsets at all. I even ate prawns.. constantly.
Back in Ho Chi Minh City, Jorge and I discovered a funny hot pot restaurant. We thought we were going into a sushi train, as we saw all these little dishes on a conveyer belt.. but it was not to be. The hot pot restaurant consisted of a hot pot of soup base (Japanese, Thai or Chinese) put into a round space in front of you and then a knob which you controlled to bring it to boiling. On the conveyer belt were ingredients that you cooked yourself in the hotpot. Great for kids who like to cook and are kitchen-savvy.
Finally, and on the last day, I tasted a most wonderful Tamarind sorbet. I will do experimenting in the weeks to come, so stay posted.