Think you know your bo kho from your pho? Within this guide, take you through the very best culinary experiences Vietnam offers, and how you can recreate them for yourself.
Vietnam is a long, thin state that share a boundary with China in the north, and Laos and Cambodia in the west. The fried noodle dishes of the north are greatly influenced by China. Conversely, the additional south you go, toward the Mekong Delta, dishes become more sweeter and much more rice-based, as the climate supports rice paddies, coconut groves and other plant that thrive in wetter conditions. Vietnam’s French colonisers also left their culinary mark around the nation: pho, among the most popular Vietnamese dishes, is a mix of Vietnamese noodles and meaty French broth; while baguettes are still a staple of the Vietnamese diet today. With such a distinctive blend of western and eastern influences, it’s easy to see why Vietnamese cuisine is so popular: where better to learn how to cook it (and eat it, of course) than in Vietnam itself?
1. Vietnam Cookery Centre, Ho Chi Minh
Vietnam Cookery Centre is Ho Chi Minh’s premier culinary institution. Insight Guides’ Culinary Experience trip comprises a whole day . At the morning class, you’ll learn the principles of Vietnamese cooking, like how to make the famous nuoc mam (fish sauce). You will also be taught how to blend spices to make paste for curries and the best way to cook rice, along with sticky rice. Your teacher will lead you on Vietnamese dining etiquette, followed by the chance to brush up on your chopstick skills. Throughout the day, you are going to try your hands at some basic dishes, such as pho, chao extended and bo luc lac.
2. Dine with a local family
Included in Insight Guides’ Hanoi to Halong fully-customisable trip, you’ll be encouraged to dine with a local family at their house in Hanoi. No doubt the manners and chopstick skills you heard in the Vietnam Cookery Centre will come in handy ! Anticipate your hosts to serve many different dishes so you may experience a wide selection of flavours, such as pho and Vietnamese tea. As your hosts will tell you, the neighbourhood where they reside was ruined by B52 bombers during the Vietnam War, or, as the Vietnamese call it, the American War.
3. Cooking class at Red Bridge School, Hoi An
When you arrive at Red Bridge School, you will be briefed, served traditional Vietnamese tea, then whisked off to the vibrant market of Hoi An at which you may collect ingredients for the day ahead. Travel back to the cooking school by boat, which takes 25 minutes, and provides you with a unique chance to view traditional Vietnamese life. Ahead of the food prep begins, you’ll be given a tour of the herb garden by the chef, to familiarize yourself with their physical appearance and odor. The chef will demonstrate cooking each dish to the course, before you try your hand in it. Afterwards, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the meal you’ve just cooked and then invited to learn more about the pretty gardens and building. Enjoy this experience as part of Insight Guides’ Vietnam Culinary Discovery excursion.
4. KOTO cookery school, Hanoi
Know one, teach one (KOTO) run very popular, hands-on cooking courses in Hanoi, specialising in healthy, lighter dishes. KOTO’s teachers guide you through each step along the food preparation process, from braving the hustle and bustle of the local marketplace in the early hours, to preparing veg, to washing your dishes up after. Find out the intricacies that go into creating the ideal Vietnamese dish, including spring rolls, seafood dishes, and needless to say, pho. A half-day cooking course at KOTO is comprised in Insight Guides’ fully customisable trip, Vietnam Culinary Discovery!