Cooking Course at Gioan, Hoi An, Vietnam

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I had booked a cooking course for our last morning in Hoi An, at a cooking school I almost literally stumbled upon. There are plenty of cooking schools in Hoi An to choose from and I just didn’t like the look of the set menu most places offered. But then I walked past Gioan and peered in and a Swiss man just finishing his coursed started telling me how great it was. That’s the best form of PR so I signed up on the spot and booked my course for a few days later. I also liked that I could do the course on my own and choose my own dishes.

Before we started cooking we (an Australian family who had booked a class for the same time and I) took a tour to the market with a guide who explained what some unknown produce were, showed us local herbs and which vendors he preferred.

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Back at the school my table was set up for me and we started cooking the first of my four chosen recipes straight away. It was quite high pace as the lesson was only 2 hours including the trip to the market but it all went well and the recipes were easy to follow. My teacher was really sweet and loved singing so we sang while cooking – it was great!

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I really enjoyed this peak into Vietnamese cuisine – I feel I get it more now seeing what combinations of flavours they use a lot and having made dishes from scratch myself. All the recipes were great – all my four dishes were delicious and some better than the food we sampled in some of the restaurants!

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One of the dishes the Swiss man was raving about was the fish in banana leaf and after tasting it I know exactly what he means!

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We used yellowfin tuna and although I don’t like tuna cooked through (I prefer it raw or seared) the marinade and the flavours made it delicious!

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I also made country pancake rolls which in my mind beats all summer rolls! The crispy rice flour based pancake with prawns and fried quails eggs wrapped in rice paper with green mango, lettuce and mint were absolutely delicious together with the sour dipping sauce.

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I also made a dish local to Hoi An called Cao Lau, made with thick noodles that contains ash (!) and are only made here, marinated pork and rice paper croutons. So nice!

vn6The last dish was a Vietnamese beef curry which was amazing! It wasn’t as heavy as I had expected because it didn’t contain any coconut milk; instead it was made using coconut water (but regular water is fine too).

I really enjoyed this course and can’t wait to cook Vietnamese food for my friends! I did stock up on spices and rice paper while I was there.

Gioan Cookery School,  95 Bach Dang Str, Hoi An, Vietnam

Dinner at Mermaid restaurant, Hoi An, Vietnam

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Our second stop in Vietnam was Hoi An, a seriously touristy town by the seafront that I actually didn’t like that much. But I think it was mainly being bombarded by sales people selling the SAME stuff that put me off. It definitely has a few things going for it; cooking schools (the one I went to was great!), tailors, beaches nearby and pretty lanterns everywhere.

Restaurant wise it was a bit hit and miss, but one night we had dinner at a really nice place (listed in Lonely Planet); Mermaid Restaurant.

We started our meal with the local White Rose dumplings that every restaurant in town offers but I think we got a good version. It’s rice paper filled dumplings pork and prawns topped with shallots and served with a dipping sauce.

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For my main course I chose a salad with green mango (which I love!) and prawns with a lime-y dressing. It was really nice and fresh!

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Ro had a hot pot with pork (of course), vegetables and noodles. Also really nice!

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We fancied something sweet after our meal and opted for a pineapple pancake each. Either served with freshly squeezed lime and sugar or with chocolate sauce. Delicious!!

After dinner we stepped out onto a completely deserted street. What two hours earlier had been a street full of open shops and street vendors was now all closed up and dark. It felt really surreal and not what we had expected when we were told it was quiet in the evenings. Luckily there were a few bars to go to so we could stay out later!

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Mermaid Restaurant, 2 Tran Phu Street, Hoi An, Vietnam