Thuan Tinh Island Cooking Class
I had heard good things about the Thuan Tinh Island cooking class and was excited to book up.
Ma, JHubz and I were collected in a nice mini van just after 8am, joining our lovely fellow chefs, a family of five from New Zealand and young couple from Switzerland. We started in Hoi An market buying the ingredients for the day. Having lived on the Portobello Road for twenty years I am rather fond of a food market. The smells and colours, some so familiar and some so strange. Fruit stalls overflowing with ripe mango, papaya, mangosteen, dragonfruit, pineapple, durian and jackfruit. (I’m a bit alarmed that the smell of durian no longer turns my stomach). Huge white daikon radishes and carrots, stalls selling every herb imaginable. And then into the fish market for still live shrimp followed by the meat market for pork and beef, slaughtered that morning. The incessant noise of trade taking place all around us. I love it!
After our guide and Chef, Hon, had talked us through all of the ingredients for the four recipes we would be making we boarded a wooden boat for the relaxing journey to Thuan Tinh island. After about ten minutes we swapped into smaller boats to wend our way through water coconut trees until we reached land. (We eventually tried water coconut before leaving Saigon and while the exterior of the nut is interior design worthy, we all found the flesh a poor relation to land coconut).
Hon started by showing us how to grind rice and water in a traditional stone grinder to make rice milk to be used in the Banh Xeo we would be making later.
They have a great set up, connecting covered, open sided barn like structures. There were three different cooking classes going on while we were cooking and none interfered in any way with ours.
We each had our own cooking stations including gas stove. Hon would first demonstrate and then we would go back to our stations to make our own versions. Over the course of the morning we made fresh Vietnamese spring rolls and a peanut dressing, crispy banh xeo pancakes and a dipping sauce, bun bo nam bo – beef and rice noodle salad and pho bo, beef noodle soup.
We ate each course after making it, spreading the making and eating over a lively morning. Hon was a great teacher and the non stop passion fruit juice is a very nice touch.
As if all that wasn’t lovely enough, on finishing we were each given an awesome set of cooking chopsticks and a booklet with all the recipes we’d made.
The only thing I would change would be instead of the many water bottles that were used, it would be great if they had big gallon water bottle and glasses.
We had a great group of people and everyone seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did. None of the reviews or blogs I write are sponsored. I pay full price for everything we do and write what I think, good or bad Xx