I enjoyed an excellent cooking class today at the Hanoi Cooking Centre on Hanoi and Northern Highlands cooking. This was about family style Hanoi cooking, rather than street food. I was the only person signed up today so the chef gave me a private lesson.
It began with a walk through a small local market, where I learned about fish sauce, rice, and various common ingedients used in Hanoi cooking.
We made fresh spring rolls with prawns and pork, banana flower salad, ginger chicken and a dessert corn and coconut soup. I learned that while noodles are prominant in street food, at home rice is at the heart of of family cooking. The chef told me that Hanoian families are more likely to go out for breakfast or lunch, and dinner is more often made at home.
I participated in all the preparation and cooking and was given a beer to enjoy while learning. Here are a few photos from class…
After we we prepared everything, I was served the full meal, along with another beer. I learned a lot today. Start to finish it was very informative, and I was able to ask loads of questions along the way. On Thursday, I’m going back for the vegetarian class with a focus on cooking with tofu.
I can’t wait for the vegetarian class! That all looks so beautiful even to someone who isn’t a meat eater. I remember when the refugees from South Vietnam started flooding into our area and changed my whole concept of Asian food. You couldn’t get me out of our “Little Saigon.” I’m curious about what differences there are between Northern and Southern Vietnamese cooking styles.
From my experience, in the south more aromatics are used, and more sweet and hot. Northern pho uses thicker noodles. Here there is a condiment for soup, garlic and vinegar that is served everywhere. In Hanoi, xoi or sticky rice, served with various, items ,seems to be popular for breakfasts especially. Hanoi is inland, and the chef told me today less ocean seafood is common here in family cooking. On the other hand there is a popular soup in Hanoi called bun rieu that features freshwater crabs from the paddy fields, as is bun oc, a soup made with snails. Both north and south use the same basic dip made with fish sauce, and a similar dressing for salads. Bun cha, a pork dish, is a Hanoi specialty. I’m looking forward to the vegetarian class too!