Wednesday, May 13, 2009


There is no denying it. I have been a BAD blogger. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been so caught up in trying the food as I move from place to place that I’ve forgotten to actually write about it. I am suitably chastised and promise it will not happen again.

After Hanoi, we got on a train to Hoi An where we had another cooking class at the Nam Hai, this time learning how to make fresh spring rolls (i.e uncooked ones). As with most fresh spring rolls, the secret lies in the dipping sauce. Which, for me, is a little bit pointless. Surely anything can taste pretty nice if you have it with a nice dip?? I’ll eat practically anything with guacamole but I wouldn’t claim that my breadstick was a work of art because it tasted good with the guac. Know what I mean?

So yes, the rolls were tasty, but on their own, they are just carrots, cabbage, mint, coriander and other herbs rolled up with a piece of fish or prawn for a touch of flavour. The photograph makes the recipe pretty self explanatory.

Take a handful of each ingredient, mix it up with a bit of sesame oil, wet the rice paper, put the filling on a third and roll it up. The dipping sauce was the same as the one we made in Hanoi for the Nem rolls with a little bit more chilli.

We did get to go to the market though, that was pretty fun – the rain meant that everything had turned into a bit of a mudfight and people were scrabbling to get their food and go in the shortest time possible. There were several factors against them – one that the walkways had all turned into muddy deathtraps ready to catch anyone who didn’t walk with the most tentative of steps and two that there were so many people and the place was so packed you couldn’t get anywhere in a hurry anyway. I did love this woman blithely smoking her fag in the midst of the hustle, a perfectly unflappable oasis of calm.

Much more exciting culinary fare was found on the corner of the Perfume River (before you get carried away with thoughts of Chanel no.5 or Jo Malone, I should mention that the only perfume I could smell was eau de dog waste). Paul and I hunkered down after a hard day’s sightseeing at Mr Linh’s food stall. I had sweet and sour pork (not remotely Vietnamese but I live on the edge like that) with rice. It was good – huge chunks of pork married with plump tomatoes pineapples and peppers in a flavoursome sauce.

Though those women might not look so cheerful, they serve up some more than decent grub. Who needs to look happy when you are feeding the world’s hungry, your actions speak for themselves, your face doesn’t have to.


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