Taking a Vietnamese Cooking Class

vietnamese cooking class

Before I went to Vietnam, I had a whole list of things to do in Hanoi, and right at the top was taking a Vietnamese cooking class. I've been in love with Vietnamese food ever since I found out it was very different to Thai food (which I also love, I'm just laughing and cringing that there was a time I thought those two things were interchangeable). Anyway, it wasn't just that I was in love big time with Vietnamese food, I also felt (and still believe) that learning about the food of the land I was in was a good thing to do. 

So I googled cooking class Hanoi Vietnam and the first one that came up that had decent reviews was a 'Home Cooking Class' with Vietnam Awesome. Full disclaimer, I then emailed them and asked if they could offer me and my (now ex-) fiancĂ© a free class in return for an honest review on our YouTube channel (Travelling Weasels). They consented and off we went. Honestly, at the time I felt like such a rock star sliding into the air-conditioned van, on my way to my free Vietnamese cooking class. (Although looking back one might argue that the price of the class ($35) was less than the effort that went into making a YouTube video...) 

Writing this blog post about it wasn't part of our deal, so I can (and will) be completely honest talking about it here. But (spoiler alert) I enjoyed the cooking class, I enjoyed the five course meal that we made and I enjoyed the existential crisis I had during the day - I can honestly say without exaggeration that a Vietnamese Cooking Class changed the course of my life :D

1. The Pick-Up

Our Vietnam Awesome Travel guide (Ha) picked us up from our hotel and drove us to Vietnam Awesome Travel's headquarters. Ha kept the journey interesting with her local knowledge and pointed out some really cool things. This included Long Bien Bridge, also known as the Eiffel Bridge as it was designed by the architects who designed the Eiffel Tower! She also showed us Hanoi Ceramic Road, a 4 km wall commissioned to celebrate the Millennial Anniversary of Hanoi (my mind, which had done little-to-no research on Hanoi was blown at the idea it had been around for a millennial). We also picked up the other two members of our group - two lovely Australians. Four was the perfect size for our group, because it was nice and small and they were both a lot better at cooking than we are! Vietnam Awesome Travel's headquarters is a beautiful building set on the river. Here we sat down and had our first Vietnamese lesson. We were taught how to say hi and how to say the numbers in Vietnamese. This would be important for our next step: bartering!

vietnamese markets

Vietnamese Markets

The market was fascinating and very authentic, with pig's tongues, live chickens, the freshest fruit and veg I've ever seen and (sadly) a dead dog. The first stop on our list was pork, our guide spoke with the butcher and told her what we wanted, and then left, but not before selecting me to be the first one to haggle for the price!!

vietnamese markets

Now, I like to think of myself as a savvy barterer especially as we've been in SE Asia for the last two months and I've had a chance to fine tune my skills. But the lady didn't speak English! And despite our awesome Vietnamese lesson my Vietnamese was still pretty much nothing. However, with the help of the rest of the group and my trusty piece of paper with the numbers written down, I managed to get the lady down from 70K to 60K (about £2.20 to £1.90)! I'm really pleased our guide gave us the chance to do this, because it was lots of fun. Happy with our pork bargain we then managed to barter for fresh crabs, squid, fish and veg:

We also had a chance to look around the other parts of the market, the live animals were pretty fascinating:

and of course it means you're guaranteed that they are fresh!

3. The Kitchen

After a quick bike ride back to headquarters, it was time to get cooking! First up were Spring Rolls, which had fresh veg (chopped very finely) and minced pork inside. They also contained egg yolks and we learnt the most genius way to separate the yolks and whites using an empty water bottle.

A lot of the dishes we were preparing needed freshly chopped veg and fruit, but we also had a go on the cookers too. We were a little apprehensive about this because it's so hot in Vietnam and we didn't fancy being on a stove all day. However, Vietnam Awesome Travel's kitchen are cleverly designed, with big open doors and windows, which let in a nice breeze and made it comfortable to cook!

Tanbay was especially apprehensive as his cooking skills are pretty much zero. However, our guide was really patient with him, and helped show him the way. She really got the balance right between helping us out, and letting us find our own way. Thus, we honestly feel like this day is perfect for beginners like Tanbay, perfect for intermediates like me, but also perfect for advanced cooks (like our two Australian friends).

4. Presentation

After the chopping and cooking was finished, we came to the hardest part of the day: presentation. This was hilarious because we were so bad! This is our attempt at a tomato rose:

We also struggled with carrot flowers, but at least we now know the theory, I've always wondered how they make those!

5. The Meal

In the end we made five incredible dishes, each more delicious than the last.

Crab Soup

Green Mango and Squid Salad

Hanoi-Styled Spring Rolls

Grilled Fish with Galangal, Ginger and Shrimp

Caramelised Pork

We loved absolutely everything, the table agreed that the Spring Rolls were the best, but I also really loved the Mango and Squid Salad and Tanbay loved the pork.

Wrap Up: Home Cooking Class with Vietnam Awesome Travel

Vietnam Awesome Travel can cater to pretty much any dietary requirement. At the beginning of the tour they checked if any of us were vegetarians/vegans/allergic to anything etc, and their repertoire is so large, that they have many dishes for all tastes and requirements. We absolutely loved our Home Cooking Class with Vietnam Awesome Travel and can't recommend it highly enough! It was our favourite day in Vietnam, and one of our favourite days in our South East Asian trip! To book your own trip, head on over to their website www.vietnamawesometravel.com or email them on guest@vietnamawesometravel.com and give them a like on Facebook.

Also, there are so many other things to do in Vietnam! We included the Home Cooking Class on our Daily YouTube travel vlog! Check it out here:

Travelling Weasels were invited as guests of Vietnam Awesome Travel, however, all opinions are our own as always. This day is awesome, you have to try it!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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