October 12, 2008

Apocalypse Chow III - Cooking Lessons

We had a lot of fun during a cooking lesson at The Vietnam Cookery Center.

Caramelized clay pot fish before marinating and cooking.

Ingredients: 100g sea bass, 1 teaspoon shallots, 1 teaspoon chopped spring onions, a baby chili, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon chicken powder, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground peppercorns, 1 cup fresh water, 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil, 2 teaspoons caramel syrup; garnished with coriander and more spring onions

After marinating briefly, the fish was cooked until the sauce was boiling; then, water was added and the fish again cooked until the water was boiling.

Notice the beautiful mesh pattern of the net rice paper. This kind of rice paper is perfect for fried spring rolls because it gives them a lighter texture.

Grace's spring rolls were all neatly wrapped and uniform in size, mine not so much. I had already been taken to task in front of the class for accidentally adding salt to my filling instead of sugar (the horror! the horror!). As usual, Grace was the teacher's pet and I was the kid who everyone prefers to sit at the back of the class where he'll cause the least disruption.

Filling ingredients: 40g minced pork (ours were actually "vegetarian", with silver wood-ear added instead of the pork), 30g crab meat, 40g minced prawns, 15g wood-ear, 35g taro, 1/2 teaspoon chicken powder, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground peppercorns, 1 teaspoon chopped shallots, 1 teaspoon chopped spring onions, 2 teaspoons egg yolk for binding.

Dipping sauce ingredients: 2 tablespoons sugar, 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1/2 teaspoons chopped chili (or to taste). The sauce can be prepare in a large quantity in advance and stored for several weeks. However, leave out the garlic and chili until the last minute; the garlic in particular will make the dipping sauce sour if left in for too long.

One trick we learned is that the garlic and chilies should always be added to the dipping sauce last; for some reason (physics? magic?) they only float if added in last.

On the right is sour fish soup with pineapple and vegetables; tamarind sauce was responsible for the sour flavor. Not pictured is a dessert of sweet green bean and seaweed porridge.

Apocalypse Chow - Vietnam Food Pics
Apocalypse Chow II - Cafe Sua Da

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