Vietnam is a popular destination for culinary delights, with their signature dishes and flavours popular worldwide. This was certainly one of the factors we considered when considering Vietnam for a travel destination, being big fans of great food (but who isn’t?). So we were excited when the resort we were staying at in Hoi An included an inclusive Vietnamese cooking class as part of our experience.
We spent 6 nights at the Sunrise Hoi An Beach Resort, wanting to enjoy a little bit of tropical luxury during our holiday. It was also great for some down time following the hectic couple of days we spent in Ho Chi Minh City. Not to mention a convenient location for some serious shopping. Hoi An is known for its tailors and extremely cheap custom clothing. While in Vietnam, I learned about the Vietnam visa on arrival campaign and I can assure you that the next time I come here I will be using that to stay much longer.
On the morning of the lesson, we met in the resort foyer before hopping on the curtesy bus and heading into Hoi An town, which was maybe a 20 minute ride.
Arriving in Hoi An town, we headed straight towards the markets with our cooking instructor guide, where she lead us to several stalls, purchasing fresh ingredients we would be using for the cooking lesson, along with giving us background information on the foods and typical Vietnamese cuisine. She was really informative and introduced us to many of the locals with their stalls.
We were also taken to a couple of stalls selling kitchen gadgets and non-food items. No doubt this was a way for the stall holders to make some profit from us tourists and it worked. We ended up purchasing a couple of veggie peeling/chopping all in one gadgets as well as a cone shaped kitchen tool that creates decorative flower shapes from things like carrots. No we’ve never used it, but it looked cool at the time. Most of the others in our group were sold too!
On the way back to the bus with our fresh meat and veggies, there were a couple of stops in shops selling the signature lanterns Hoi An is so famous for and other local wares, before hopping back on to the bus to head back to the Sunrise.
Unfortunately with a toddler in tow, only one of us could actually join the practical part of the lesson while the other watched in between entertaining a 1 year old. Simon was the one who did the cooking.
The lesson was conducted in the space near the outdoor, poolside restaurant at the Sunrise Hoi An Resort. We arrived back at the resort to find it all set up as above.
Then it was straight into a 3 course Vietnamese cooking lesson masterpiece. The instructor… we will call her Chef… began demonstrating and instructing the group on the different steps. Her English was difficult at times, so the practical demonstration was helpful. She set each person up at a cooking station and away they went, step by step.
Well… once they had their aprons and chef hats on at least!
The first course was a salad served in what resembled large prawn chips, similar to what you would buy from a Chinese restaurant. It was full of strong flavours, with that sour vinegar dressing taste mixed in with the sweetness of the vegetables and the balance of the marinated chicken pieces.
Luckily Simon made enough for each of us to try, so Lily and I sat back and enjoyed the food between courses.
The main course was a seafood dish with a spicy broth and seafood so fresh it still had the shells. Seafood we had witnessed the buying of at the markets, which added to the excitement of being able to eat the ingredients from our market trip. It was delicious!
And yes, our family cook was also allowed to sit down between courses and enjoy the food, as were all the other cooking lesson participants, before getting on with the final course.
The final course was a dessert, however as time was getting away on them, Chef made this course as a demonstration only, instead of having everyone join in. We still got to sample the final product, although I forgot to get a picture of the dessert.
Vietnamese food is not overly spicy compared to some other regions in Vietnam. At least not the signature style in the Hoi An area. There are strong flavours such as lemongrass that Vietnamese food is known for, plenty of seafood and meats, and lots of vegetables and salad style dishes. For someone who does not love salad, the Vietnamese know how to make a salad even I want to eat. They also use a lot of lovely tropical fruit in their cooking for that beautiful mix of flavour.
Lily loved the food we ate in Vietnam, but she’s a massive fan of rice too, so the fact that there was rice or noodles with most meals kept her very happy. Otherwise, she was mostly happy to sit and play at the table while her daddy participated in his Vietnamese cooking lesson. Hopefully next time we both get the chance to join in though.
But at least there were some amazing pool and sea views behind us to enjoy while we waited to be served our three course lunch. Such a life!
VIETNAMESE COOKING CLASS
Our Vietnamese cooking class was conducted at Sunrise Hoi An Resort, as part of our accommodation package, however there are lessons available to join throughout Vietnam, both in resorts and in restaurant and cooking school locations. We also had a cooking demonstration on our Halong Bay cruise later in our trip. It is well worth doing a cooking lesson while you are there, so you can come home and hopefully recreate some of that amazing food.