Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vietnamese Cooking School

My experience at Thai cooking school had been stressful.  That Thai chef actually expected us to cook - and she had some extremely complicated recipes for us to execute.  Thai cooking school was comparable to an IB class and I needed a special needs lesson!

Well, Vietnamese cooking school fit the bill.  We went to a nice section on the outskirts of Hanoi to the Koto cooking school, which is a not-for-profit school whose primary purpose is to train Vietnamese street kids in marketable skills so they can get jobs in quality restaurants in the city.  Their slogan is "Know one, teach one" and they evidently have an excellent reputation and success record.  Not being street kids ourselves, we got the watered down version of cooking school, where everything was chopped and measured for us and all we had to do was throw it together.  Even the cooking was done by trainees outside on the grills.  I did, however, learn to make a pretty good spring roll out of rice flour cakes and had a much more enjoyable time than I did when the Bangkok cooking school's weighing and measuring in metric and crazy complicated recipes gave me an anxiety attack!

The chef and her trainees did the hard part!

Our instructor had once been living on the streets herself, but she got trained at Koto and is now giving back

So much less stressed than at Thai cooking school!  I learned to make a pretty good fresh Vietnamese spring roll!

      Koto school was fun and the food that "we cooked" was delicious.  We enjoyed it immensely, despite the frequent power outages that kept plunging us in the dark as we ate.  They accept donations for people who'd like to sponsor a troubled youngster and help him/her get the training they need to get off the streets.
Frying up the prawn and yam patties.  They use whole baby shrimp, heads on and unpeeled... but it was good!

Ajarn B, one of our professors, made a pawpaw salad using unripe papaya and dried beef.  It was awesome and I'm definitely making this if I can find a green papaya in DeLand!