Saturday, July 25, 2009

It was two days ago, but feels like a year

As recommended by friends who recently visited Hoi An, I signed up for a lesson with Miss Lu at the Morning Glory Cooking School. 

Our class began with a walking tour of the local market, which was crowded, stimulating and not overly hygienic, exactly like other markets I've seen in Vietnam: 

After being shown how to choose fresh mackerel, lemongrass, and turmeric, we went back to the shiny demonstration kitchen where Miss Lu gave us a 2-hour lesson in preparing restaurant-quality Vietnamese food. Miss Lu, who is 29, has worked in restaurants since she was twelve and she knows how to carve a perfect rose out of a tomato.
I didn't pick up that particular trick, but did discover this brilliant tool for julienning green papaya -- or anything!

It's like a very wide, sharp lemon zester, much less cumbersome than a mandoline. 

We also learned that the Vietnamese roast peanuts by submerging them in hot sand, a process that supposedly renders them extra-delicious, and we learned to make bahn xeo, a crispy rice flour/coconut crepe that I once ate at a restaurant in San Jose, California, but have never seen on a menu again: 
As soon as I get home I'm going to try cooking these myself. Lu's bahn xeo was one of the best things I've eaten since we got here.

We also made a world-beating grilled chicken, the marinade for which included all 13 pastes, powders, and condiments you see in this photograph:

The chicken was my father's favorite dish. 
Or was that Miss Lu? Ewww. I can't believe I just typed that. But she WAS very charming and funny and smart.
I also made my own (fairly) professional-looking spring roll:

I didn't eat it, though. Lu said the raw vegetables were washed in "mineral water," but I'm extremely -- perhaps overly -- cautious about the food. It's a complete drag, picking every sprig of cilantro off of my soup. I'm looking forward to eating a salad and drinking a giant glass of tap water when I get home.


  1. Great post and photos. Of course, I always want more and more---but commend you on doing as much writing as you do in the midst of a busy exciting trip. You will be pulling up all these memories for years to come. As you head home, you can congratulate yourself on a trip well planned and executed!

    And know that you are eagerly awaited at this end of the voyage!


  2. I'm looking forward to a bahn xeo. Soon!
    As for the spring roll. I think that sort of thing should never have a transparent wrap. One reason most spring rolls are good is you can't see what you'r eating.

  3. من أفضل المؤسسات التي تقوم بتنظيف البيوت و المنازل في الرياض عاصمة المملكة العربية السعودية علي الإطلاق هي مؤسسة فهي مؤسسة مختصة في مختلف المهمات التي تخص نظافة منزلك و تجعلك مرفوعة الدماغ طول الوقتً في مواجهة أسرتك شركة النجوم لخدمات التنظيف
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بمكة
    شركة تنظيف كنب بمكة
    شركة تنظيف منازل بمكة

  4. Wonderful article and visuals. Of course, I always want more and more, but I admire your dedication to writing even while on such an interesting and eventful tour. In the future, you'll want to recall all of these slime rancher 2 wonderful moments. You can pat yourself on the back for a job well done when you fly back home after a successful vacation.