Sunday, 22 September 2013

Junk Food

Yesterday I got up early and headed down to the Docklands in the City.

It was a lovely clear day, beautiful blue sky with a slight nip in the air.

Doing as all Melbournians do, I lingered over a nice house roasted, long black coffee and waited to meet up with my dear friend, Magda.

Together we boarded a lovely wooden junk boat called The Oriental Queen where we partook in a Vietnamese cookery class. (as you do!)

Hazel, the tutor, who was as Aussie as they come (looked like Davina McCall I thought) was great. She taught us, she engaged us and she involved us all the way through.

The pestle and mortar is an absolute must with this cuisine and so I made a mental note to salvage mine from the back of the cupboard.

Thai food has very clean, crisp, fragrant flavours, Vietnamese is, well, somewhat grungier, more rustic and robust I would say. It is not as heavy on the chili as Thai but lashings of fish sauce goes into everything and surprisingly so does oodles of black pepper too.

(Top tip: add fish sauce to chicken pie or steaks on the BBQ etc, brings out the flavour brilliantly without a hint of fishiness!)

I finally learnt how to prepare fresh lemongrass properly - yes there is definitely a knack to it.

We got through a comprehensive menu in the allotted time and then had the "arduous" task of scoffing our venerable feast with the other attendees.

Fragrant Pork and Prawn Sausage in Rice Paper Rolls
Chicken with Lemongrass Chili
Sugar Cane Prawns with Green Mango Salad
Pork Spare Ribs cooked in Young Coconut Water with Coconut and Ginger Jasmine Rice
Steamed Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut Cream and Mangosteen
It was fun, it was delicious, new skills were picked up and it was such a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday with a friend as enthusiastic as me!
As for Hazel and her junk food cooking school what can I say but end with that old Chinese Proverb:
"A good teacher is more valuable than a whole ton of books"
The Spanish Tapas class is now calling me..........................................



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