Thursday, March 22, 2012

Staff Class Cooking Day Part 2 - Vietnamese Food

 In my previous post - Staff Class Cooking Day Part 1 - I wrote about the day I had my class of Vietnamese ladies over for a day of cooking fun! On that post I wrote about the Western food we made that day. This one is about the Vietnamese food!

The first Vietnamese dish we made was đậu sốt cà chua (fried tofu with tomato and onion). We began by frying the chunks of tofu in a lot of oil until they were brown and crispy on the outside.

Then, we put the tofu aside, added the tomato and onion to the oil with some fish sauce and seasoning and cooked it until it was soft. We added the tofu again and mixed it all together. Delicious!

The second dish was Chả lá lốt (minced pork in betel leaves). Van Comm started by mixing minced pork with chopped up lốt leaves, fish sauce, green onion, an egg, and a bit of salt and pepper.

We than wrapped up small bits of this in lốt leaves and put them in the frying pan to cook.

The leaves give these a unique, fragrant flavour. They are moist and delicious!

While we were making the fried tofu and the Chả lá lốt, Tu, Xuan, and LSU Van were working hard on making Nem (Vietnamese friend spring rolls)

We were running out of prep space so they worked on the floor!

They mixed together some minced pork, rice vermicelli, woodear mushrooms, carrot, thai basil, green onion, egg, salt and pepper, and chopped it all up into tiny bits!

Everyone had to pitch in to wrap all the spring rolls. It takes a long time!

I think Xuan wants some Nem!
We sat and ate all of these dishes as they were made, because we didn't want them to get cold! Then, once we had made the lasagna and it was in the oven, I hit my exhaustion point and sat down on the couch for a bit while the ladies continued to make chicken salad, Pho Cuon (rice noodle rolls) and one of my favourite dishes, Bánh xèo (Vietnamese Pancake).

ELRC Van assembling Pho Cuon
Xuan assembling Pho Cuon
An enormous pile of Pho Cuon!
Ever since the first time I had Bánh xèo I have absolutely loved it. It's a very thin crispy pancake filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, which is then cut into pieces and wrapped up with greens in a piece of rice paper, then dipped in Nước chấm (sauce made from sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and chilies). It's also notoriously difficult to make. I had tried a few months ago, and ended up with a thick, mushy, tasteless pancake that was incredibly disappointing. So when LSU Van said she could teach me to make it, I was thrilled!

Pouring the batter into the pan.
Adding the fillings.

These tasted good, but as you can see, the pancake still didn't come out thin and crispy like it's supposed to be! Van's comment was something like "It's good, but it's NOT BANH XEO!"

For some reason I don't have a picture of the chicken salad, but Tu and Xuan worked hard shredding the meat off of a chicken leg, and added onions and a lot of other tasty greens, plus a delicious dressing.

These three dishes came before the lasagna and cake, so we still had some room to eat them!

"PLEASE, Jenny, could you STOP taking pictures so we can EAT?"
For details about the lasagna and cake, see my previous post!

The ladies were good enough to stay and help clean up. Poor Van Comm was too short to put the dishes away though!

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