Saigon Cooking Class


The 2 A+ students with our Cooking Master

What better way to acclimate yourself with a new culture than diving into its cuisine?! Vietnamese food is fresh, sweet, and full of flavor. Every meal is a treat and what’s even better, most meals here cost less than $2.oo! My neighbor from Korea (whom I love so much!) came to stay for a week, so we decided to try our luck in one of Saigon’s many cooking classes. We thought we might as well get a bit of culture, try our luck at cooking Vietnamese food, and eat one-hell-of-a-lunch!

Today’s Menu:

Fried Seafood Spring Rolls

Banana Blossom Salad with Shredded Chicken

Beef Noodle Soup (The Ever-Famous Pho!)

First things first, I am a disaster in the kitchen. My parents have actually forbid me from cooking when they aren’t home. I’m the girl who forgets to put water in EASY MAC and catches the microwave on fire. Did you know macaroni catches on fire in the microwave if there’s no water?! Someone should put a warning label on the box or something! I’ve also been known to put plastic pans on hot burners to heat something [melts all over the place]… not my proudest moments– but you can see, I was a little weary of a cooking class! Me and hot plates and ingredients and recipes and knives don’t mix. However, the lovely chef at Hoa Tuc Restaurant who happened to be our cooking guru for the day took me under his wing and showed me the way to make not 1 but 3 delicious Vietnamese dishes! No injuries or casualties and Hoa Tuc Restaurant is still standing tall and not burnt to the ground. Success? I think so.

Our starter for the day: fried seafood spring rolls. One of Vietnam’s signature dishes, found in fancy-pansy overpriced restaurants or from your friendly neighbor down the street serving these delicious little rolls of fat out of their house for 25 cents. The choice is yours. Regardless, I have a new level of respect for spring roll makers. It takes a lot more talent than you know to make those rolls actually look like rolls! My rice paper was breaking in half, but with my cooking guru’s help I finally made my rolls look like something edible! Now for the frying part. Sizzle, sizzle, splat– oil splashing everywhere. After a few ‘yulps‘ and ‘Ouch! It got me!’ from the splatting oil, our little rolls of mushed up seafood were ready to eat! MmmMMm, good.

vietnam fried spring roll_ cha goi

They were delicious and even looked like spring rolls!

Our second course was by far the best. Not only did I learn that at the bottom of a bundle of bananas a delicious flower grows, I also learned how to make a chili into a flower! The perfect added touch to push my Banana Blossom Salad out of the average category and into the pro’s. Not only was the salad so tasty, it also looked beautiful! I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it, in amazement that I actually made it! Ingredients = banana blossom peeled and cut into slices, carrots, onions, peppers, peanuts, and shallots to garnish. Advice: If you get the chance to try banana blossom salad- do it, it’s awesome. Tangy, full of vegetables, full of flavor, and fresh. It is one of my absolute favorite Vietnamese dishes.

banana blossom salad

Isn't it beautiful?! I made it!

Our last dish on the menu was Beef Noodle Soup– or more commonly known as the-one-the-only, Vietnam’s claim to fame, a steamy bowl of PHO [pronounced PHA!] I thought it would be fairly simple…some meat, some veg, some this and that and boom, Pho is ready to go. I was so wrong. It takes 8 HOURS to MAKE the BROTH alone! The broth is made from a cow’s leg bone, some sticks of cinnamon, ginger, and other random stuff thrown into a pot and let simmer for 8 hours! No wonder I’m no chef, I barely have the patience to wait for water to boil to make Instant Noodles. I wonder who was the brainchild behind Pho and thought to themselves, ‘I bet if I let this cow bone and all these random ingredients cook for 8 hours it will taste really good?!?’ My hopes of re-cooking the menu once I got home quickly vanished when the chef uttered “8 hours.” Not to mention, if I were to make Pho at home I would have to walk around a market looking for a thigh bone from a cow, and that wouldn’t really be what I called fun! Thankfully, Hoa Tuc took it upon themselves to cook the broth for us, and after cutting up some vegetables and throwing in some mint leaves our Pho was complete. Our Pho was even comparable to the women who sell delicious pho on the side of the street for $2.00 a bowl!


Nothing better than a steamy bowl of homecooked Pho!

Emily and I left our class feeling like a bowling ball from all the great dishes we ate, a copy of all the recipes in hand, ready to make these delicious little creations in our own kitchens. Or, wait… Yes, I could try to cook these again, unsupervised and risk destroying the kitchen.. or.. I can just walk down the street and get it all for under $5.00 from the lady on the street corner. I think I’m better off leaving the cooking to the streets!

Interested in a Cooking Class? Do it. It’s a little pricey ($30-$40), but really fun & taking pictures of your creations during the course is worth it all!

Check Out: Hoa Tuc’s Cooking Class for all the nitty-gritty.

Hoc Tuc Saigon Cooking Class, 74/7 Hai Bà Trưng, District 1,, (08) 3 825 84 85

Cooking Follow-Up: Rhys and I successful made 30 fried spring rolls for a pot luck dinner we had with some friends. We both smelled like greasy McDonald’s employees, and it took us a lot longer than expected, and they didn’t look as impressive as the cooking classes– but everyone seemed to like them a lot. So, it looks like I did learn how to cook something after all!

fried spring roll

Photo PROOF, Rhys tried his best to make the rolls look like rolls!

One Response to “Saigon Cooking Class”
  1. Way to go trying this dish at home! I think American cooking is more dangerous/flammable than Vietnamese so you should be safe while you are there! Glad I could witness your cooking success!

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