I had all sorts of grand plans when we launched this summer to post loads of my favourite recipes, namely my scotch eggs, which are dead easy to make but sound really impressive.
However, I haven’t really had the time or incentive to do much cooking since then, which is a shame because I love it. So apart from Danni’s mum’s amazing chicken soup we're a bit low on the recipe front.
A recent change in my domestic setup (spolier: I haven't moved in with a boy, before you ask), means that I'm going to get more opportunity to whip up a storm in the kitchen again now, but I'm a bit out of practice and I'm not feeling massively inspired.
So just for you (and my tummy) I managed to squeeze a quick cooking course in during my holidays at the flipping amazing Morning Glory restaurant in Hoi An.
Look how professional I look in my apron. Not shown: quite how much I was sweating in a hot kitchen when it was 35c outside...
Given how gushing I’m about to be, it’s worth me pointing now out that this wasn’t a press freebie – I’m plugging Morning Glory's cookery course because it was the best thing I did in a fortnight’s worth of amazing experiences.
The courses are run by Miss Vy, who opened her first restaurant in Hoi An in 1992, and has been doing booming business ever since, mainly because her food is outstanding – and some of the best I ate in a country renowned for its fantastic cuisine.
She’s also something of a celebrity chef these days, staring in Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape:
There are a few different course options – we took the herb garden bicycle tour and cooking course, which was $32 per person (you can do a cheaper market tour and cooking course for $25 each, but I’d definitely recommend the bike tour, it was brilliant).
The herb gardens get a good watering
We left early on our bikes to some nearby herb gardens and paddy fields. Despite my fear of cycling, it was really amazing – the scenery was stunning, and as well as checking out the beautiful herb gardens, we also visited a family who made all (yes all) of the local noodles for the region, and met a 100 year old man hanging out next to the paddy fields (unlike some of my fellow tourists I decided that taking a picture of him was a bit gross, so you’ll have to take my word for it).
Noodles in their natural habitat
We then went back to the restaurant to take part in a cooking class with about thirty other people, all tourists. The set up was brilliant – everyone had their own stove and set of ingredients laid out for them, and Ms Vy was a fantastic, if slightly terrifying teacher.
We made several different dishes, but here’s the recipe for Cabbage soup, which sounds gross but was absolutely delicious. It’s dead easy to make, and doesn’t feature any particularly specialist ingredients.
It’s also the dish Vietnamese women have to make for their mother-in-laws when they get married, to prove their prowess in the kitchen. Just FYI…
The finished soup - look how pro it looks. Almost as if an actual pro was telling me exactly what to do and checking my work. Dirty cloth in the background: optional.
Cabbage leaf parcels with shrimp mousse in broth
1 litre Vegetable stock:- 1 litre water - ¼ tsp salt - 1 ½ tsp fish sauce - ¼ tsp rock sugar - 300g chopped cabbage
Shrimp mousse: - 200 g prawns, peeled - 1/4 tsp sea salt - ¼ tsp coarse black pepper - ½ tsp fish sauce - ½ tsp sugar - 1/3 cup white spring onions and shallots, - chopped finely 1 egg white
The rest:6 cabbage leaves 12 spring onions 8 carrot flowers, finely sliced Sesame oil ½ cup spring onion curls ½ cup coriander leaves ½ tsp coarse black pepper
Method: First make the vegetable stock: - Bring water to the boil, add salt, rock sugar, fish sauce, cabbage. Cook for 25 minutes on a low hear.
Blend all of the ingredients for the shrimp mousse together in a blender.
Cut the cabbage leaves in half, discarding the thick veiny bit in the middle.
Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil.
Cook leaves for two minutes then set aside.
Cut the bottom white part off the 12 spring onions then blanch the green part for 30 seconds in the same hot water. Set aside.
To make your dumplings, take 2 teaspoons and dip in oil to avoid the mixture sticking to spoons. Take a small amount of the shrimp mousse mixture and mould into an oval shape using both of the spoons as a guide.
Make 12 in total – any leftover mousse can be made into small balls and dropped into the broth at the last moment.
Poach the dumplings in the vegetable broth for one minute, then remove with a slotted spoon.
Cut the cabbage leaves into small squares, 10c m x 15 cm, reserving any left over cabbage. Place the first cabbage leaf on a flat surface and place the dumpling in the middle, allowing 2cm space on each side.
Fold over the sides of the cabbage leaf and tie up with a spring onion in a small bow.
Once you’ve done all 12 parcels, place them in the broth with the carrot slices, left over torn cabbage leaves and prawn mousse balls. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Serve in a bowl topped with spring onion curls, coriander leaves, a pinch of black pepper and a few drops of sesame seed oil.
Et voila, now you can bag yourself a nice young Vietnamese man, and really impress his mum. Or just eat it yourself, whatever.
Also, do you have any signature dishes you'd like to tell us about? Email them over to email@example.com!