Don’t You Pho-get About Me (Or Cooking Class/Cu Chi Tunnels Combo Tour) – Part 2

So, in my last article I ended by telling you the menu that Marta and I had picked out (See it here if you missed it). So, without any messing around I will get stuck back into the cooking class with this article.

We started by preparing the pho. Even though it was the third dish we would eat, it took the longest time to prepare for. This was so the chicken bones and spices could simmer to make the perfect stock. Our chef and host told us that pho restaurants in Vietnam keep their spice mix a closely guarded secret.

Our pho stock bubbling away. The spices are wrapped in a towel.
Our pho stock bubbling away. The spices are wrapped in a towel.

Following on from this, we made the bahn mi. This was absolutely amazing to make, and even better to eat. As I mentioned in the last post, both Marta and I were so hungry that we failed in taking any pictures of this particular dish. But let me assure you, dear reader, that it was mouth-watering, succulent and exactly what I needed (even if I didn’t know it ). A combination of cucumber, carrot, mint, chicken (barbecued to perfection) and a sweet sauce, with just a hint of salt.

Next up, we began preparing for the salad. Our pho broth was left to boil away during this whole time so that it would be just right when it came to serving it. The salad consisted of carrots and cucumbers cut with a “fancy knife” as our chef called it. This was, in reality, a knife to give them a nice serrated edge. The dressing was a simple squeezing of cumquat juice. It made the salad equally refreshing and (with chilli) spicy.

2015-vietnam-green-papaya-salad

Finally, it was time for us to get back to the pho. We began by removing the bags of spices and the bones. We added a little more water, fish sauce and sugar to get the taste just right. Marta’s was so good, the chef even called it the best.

For the final dish, we dragged our now bloated bodies out of the chairs and back over to the workstations. Using a wok, we barbecued the banana and caramalised it with honey. Adding vanilla powder, coconut milk and salt into the pan, we created a thick sauce with which we would drizzle the banana. As the sauce thickened, we sliced the banana ready for serving. The last thing to be added was a sprinkling of sesame seeds and peanuts – this made the dish ready for serving.

After eating our deserts with now very full stomachs, the chef had one more surprise for us. One by one, he called us up to him and presented us with certificates and the recipes we had used. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect start to our day.

Getting our certificates
Getting our certificates

With this done, we paid (and tipped generously – I urge you to do the same. The class is more than worth it) and got ready to go on to the Cu Chi tunnels, rubber tree farm and traditional village where they made rice paper. But, alas, you shall have to wait for my next post to hear about that.

Ricky

All photos from my amazing girlfriend Marta over at Down From The Door.

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