If you haven’t guessed yet, I love cooking and am obsessed with taking classes in each country I visit. Out of all the classes I’ve taken, I was super excited to get to Vietnam and learn how to make Pho and one of my favorite dishes Banh Xeo. There’s something about Vietnamese food that has that comfort food quality to it, along with being so flavorful. I loved all the dishes I ate in Vietnam, they were light, not heavy and filling. I won’t have a place with a kitchen for a while, but I’m excited to cook these dishes when I get to a place that does!
Like most cooking classes in Southeast Asia, our morning started with a market tour to learn about the produce and pick up ingredients for the class. Most of the vegetables that I’ve seen in Southeast Asia were the same, but Vietnam has this whole section of herbs that they use as a topping for their soups and dishes. Herbs they use in most recipes are lemon basil, hung mint, rice patty, wild betel, bitter herb, and coriander. These are usually served on the side for you to add as much or as little as you like to your dish.
There are many places offering cooking classes. We decided to do a class in Hoi An and picked Gioan Cooking school because of the private classes. It was just the two of us, and we were able to pick the time and which four dishes we wanted to learn. Our teacher, Vina, has been with the school for eight years and was very entertaining singing American pop songs throughout the class. The four dishes we picked to learn how to make were:
Pho – Noodle Soup with beef Banh Xeo – Pancake with shrimp and pork Fresh Spring Rolls – Vegetables, shrimp, and pork wrapped in rice paper Clay-Pot – Pork marinated and cooked in a thick savory sauce
The kitchen had a typical gas stove for cooking and utensils you would find in your western home. We used a large frying pan to make the pancake and sauce pot to make the Pho. I liked how simple everything was to make. The spices they use is what give Vietnamese food their tasty flavor. All of their flavors come from using fresh herbs.
After taking this class, Banh Xeo is still my favorite dish! I love that the pancake is light and crispy. Not to mention its fun to take rice paper and herbs to wrap the pancake up. Dip it in chili sauce and this dish is a tasty treat as an appetizer or main meal. I can’t wait to make this recipe on my own!