When GlasgowLiving were offered the opportunity to take part in a day class at The Cook School Scotland, we jumped at the chance. We often review food, so thought it would make a nice change to actually cook it for once! So on Saturday, two of the GlasgowLiving team went along to the Vietnamese Day, to *attempt* to learn how to cook a feast straight from Hanoi…

The day started at 9:45am and we began by sitting in the dining room and enjoyed some tea and a freshly baked scone with butter and jam, which were delicious and set us up for the day!

Once everyone had arrived, we stuck name badges on and put on our aprons and the chefs Andrew and Vanessa came through to give us a short introduction to what we would be doing.

The dishes we made were:

– Monkfish Cha Ca Curry of Ginger, Coconut and Dill
– Cha Bo Vietnamese Beef and Sesame Patties / Hanoi Prawn Cakes
– Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
– Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Prawn, Crab, Ginger and Mint
– Banana Pancakes

Then without further ado, we moved through to the kitchen to our assigned state of the art cooking station, then gathered around Andrew’s station at the front of the class. We started on our first dish, the Cha Bo Vietnamese Beef and Sesame Patties. Andrew explained that these are often served as part of a festive meal called Bo Bay Mon where seven different courses of beef are served.

We started by combining lean minced beef with sesame seeds and ground cumin. Other ingredients were added before we formed the patties using a special technique. These were then chilled to be cooked later, which was done in a shallow frying pan due to the traditional cooking method on sizzling charcoal braziers. There was a pescatarian in the class who made Hanoi Prawn Cakes, which looked equally delicious.

Cha Bo Vietnamese Beef and Sesame Patties

We then moved on to the Cha Ca Curry. We made a marinade by combining a mixture of ingredients including onion, garlic, ginger and grated fresh turmeric in a food processor. A quarter of the paste was put in a food bag with the monkfish and massaged in before leaving to marinade in the fridge. After it had been marinating for a while, we fried it and continued with the curry sauce, adding sweetness with palm sugar, sourness with lime and saltiness with fish sauce, tasting as we added to see what needed adjusting.

Monkfish Cha Ca Curry of Ginger, Coconut and Dill

Whilst this was chilling we moved on to prepare the Vietnamese Summer Rolls. This dish was made collectively as a group, so we were each given a prep job and then mixed all the ingredients in a big bowl at the front. Sliced vegetables, crab meat, king prawns and thin rice noodles were all mixed together with mint and coriander. We were then each given a bowl of the mixture and fried rice paper wrappers. This was where it got difficult! We had a bowl of not quite boiling water and we had to drop a sheet of rice paper in the water until it became pliable and clear. We then had to lie it on the counter and put a spoonful of the filling then wrap – all very quickly before it all stuck together!

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Prawn, Crab, Ginger and Mint

Once all our savoury dishes were cooked we served up what we wanted to eat and took our dishes into the dining room and enjoyed our creations with a glass of wine. Our meals were accompanied by basmati rice, served ‘family-style’ – in a massive bowl in the middle of the table and two varieties of Nuoc Cham dipping sauces. Once we cleared our plates, we went back through to the kitchen to box up what was left to take home and then made a start on our Banana Pancakes!

Our batter mixture had been chilling, as we prepared it before sitting to have lunch to give it time to chill. This was made by whisking eggs, sugar and melted butter before adding coconut milk among other ingredients. After the mixture was chilled, we melted butter in a frying pan before adding half a banana, then poured the mixture in.

Banana Pancakes with Vanilla Ice Cream

Overall, the class was a lot of fun and really informative. Andrew and Vanessa made sure everyone knew what they were doing and were on hand if we needed assistance. The steps were broken down into manageable and easy to understand segments which made the experience very enjoyable. The stages were well thought out so that we prepared certain stages earlier to give them time to be chilled. Our dirty mixing bowls and utensils were collected throughout the class and replaced and all our ingredients for each dish were measured and sitting at our station when we returned after each demonstration.

Andrew gave us really handy hints throughout the day and explained the way of Vietnamese cookery really well, going through the five taste elements; hot, sweet, bitter, salty and sour and the ingredients used to achieve this. It was a very well run class and everyone else seemed to really enjoy it too! There was a mixture of couples, pairs of friends and a few on their own. Gift Vouchers for classes can be purchased for Christmas presents as well as Hampers, starting at just £18 which would make a really great gift for any foodies in the family!

For more information on classes, Gift Vouchers and Gift Hampers, check out their website!