Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Herb and spices Hoi An

Weather was appalling on our last day of visit.
We therefore booked for a cookery class :)
Found them via the local tourist guide.  Looks clean and tidy from outside so we went for it :)
You could pay extra to visit the wet market together.  We wouldn't mind on a normal sunny day but no thanks on a rainy day :p

The chef spoke good English and it was very easy to follow.
Food was delicious of course. Will definitely try and make it at home.


Green papaya salad


1 medium, green papaya
1 small carrot
1 red chili (optional)
Fresh Thai Basil
Fresh mint leaves
Roasted peanuts
Crispy deep fried shallots


Peel, then grate the papaya and carrot into long strips using a medium sized vegetable grater.
Prepare the dipping sauce and drizzle generously; adding the fresh mint, Thai basil and chili. Stir well and garnish with a sprinkling of roasted peanuts and crispy fried shallots.

For a deeper flavour marinade the papaya, carrot and herbs in the fridge for an hour before garnishing.

Classic dipping sauce

Basic Ingredients:
Fish sauce
Rice vinegar
Brown sugar
Filtered water

Traditional additions :
Chopped garlic, chili, basil and crispy shallots.

Using equal measures of fish sauce and rice vinegar, put all the ingredients in a bowl. Add a third measure of sugar and gently stir until it has completely dissolved.
Then put whatever flavours you like in. For example: chopped garlic, chili, Thai basil, crispy shallots… to make your desired dipping sauce.
Leave for at least an hour for the flavours to infuse

Spring roll

20 leaves of rice paper.
200g Minced pork.
30g Softened Glass noodles chopped into 1cm pieces.
Finely Slice:
4 Wood ear mushrooms.
1 small carrot.
1 Small onion.
30g Spring onion.
5 Garlic cloves.
Salt, pepper, mushroom stock powder: to taste.

Firmly mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Place the rice paper onto a main plate, add a thumb sized serving of mixture and place at one end of the rice paper sheet. Tightly roll the rice paper around ingredients, folding the edges to create a neat, square end to form a spring roll.

Heat the vegeatble oil in a deep frying pan and wait until the oil reaches a medium, high heat.
Put spring rolls in and deep fry for about 2.5 min . Take out and serve with dipping sauce.

Note: You also substitute the pork for minced chicken and/or prawns if you wish.
And for those struggling to get hold of mushroom stock - cheat

Grill seabass in banana leaf
Fragrant and burting with aromatic flavour. Substitute tuna with another 'in season' fish, but make sure it's fresh and filletted. Snapper works incredibly well as does smoking over a hot charcoal barbeque!

Ingredients (one serving):                                            
200g Fresh tuna, cubed.
2 Wood ear mushrooms.
5 g of each (finely sliced) - fresh ginger, lemongrass, garlic, red chili and turmeric.
10ml Turmeric oil.
Salt and pepper.
Fish sauce, soy and oyster sauce.
2 Banana leaves ( or two 25cm squares of foil).

Mixing and wrapping:
Put all above ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently mix them together. Wrap in green banana leaf (two layers to prevent the mixture from burning). Marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes then take out to grill on gridle or charcoal BBQ for about 4 minutes each side. This dish is commonly served with steamed rice.

Note: To make your own infused turmeric oil lightly crush a 5cm piece of fresh turmeric and place in a 100ml bottle of light cooking oil.
(or go here for instructions)

Grilled aubergine
This simple vegetarian dish is popular throughout Central Vietnam. Often presented in a claypot, it can be served as a side dish or a delicious main course with rice to mop up the aromatic sauce.

 Ingredients (per person):
1 Aubergine
1 tblsp Soy sauce.
2 Cloves chopped garlic.
1 tsp Soy oil.
1 Pinch of brown sugar.
10ml Filter water.
10g Spring onion (finely chopped).
1 Pinch of black pepper.

Grill the aubergine on a gridle or in a charcoal oven untill charred (about 15 minutes). Peel skin and cut into cubes and set aside.
For the sauce; heat the oil and flash fry the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the spring onion, sugar, pepper, soy sauce and water. Fry for a further 1-2 minutes on a medium heat.

To serve:
Place aubergine on a plate and add the sauce. This dish is commonly served with steamed rice.

Bun cha

Pork mince: 180 grams
Spring onions:1 tblsp
Fresh shallots: 2/3 of a tablespoon
Fish sauce: 1 teaspoon
Mushroom stock powder: ½  teaspoon

Caramelised sugar mix: On a slow heat mix 200g brown cane sugar, 1 cinnamon stick and 5 star anise, slowly add 180 ml of water in a sauce pan until the mixture turns brown and thickens. A versitile mixture that’s perfect for anyone with a sweet-tooth, be sure to keep this mixture in the fridge and use sparingly.

In a mixing bowl add pork mince, 1 pinch of pepper, fresh shallots, spring onion,  fish sauce, mushroom stock powder and garlic. Add half a teaspoon of  caramilised sugar and mix well. Be sure to get as much air from the mix as possible by hitting the mixture against the inside of the bowl, this helps the mix stick togther and infuses the flavours nicely.

Roll the mixture into small balls and flatten out to make small patties about one centimeter high and 3centimetres wide. Grill on a griddle or charcoal BBQ for seven minutes turing to cook evenly. Serve on a bed of fresh white rice noodles and enjoy

Reaching out, Hoi An

They have a tea house and a shop.
Background : http://www.reachingoutvietnam.com/public_html/

Both tastefully decorated selling great quality products.

The teahouse: 
We were there for hours.  We loved it there.  

You can have a sniff of the coffee and tea before ordering.
We went for coffee tasting and cookie tasting to try them out before ordering more.

None of them tasted particularly good unfortunately.  
I am so used to espresso... find these a bit weak. 

There was passionfruit, sesame, coconut, sweet potato crisps, chocolate, matcha coconut, chocolate coconut, dried ginger..etc
Our favourites were the sweet potato crisps, sesame and passionfruit cookies
so we ordered more :p  

The shop:  

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Morning Glory, Hoi An

Having been to Hanoi,  Hoi An is very different. 
Hoi An ancient town is quite touristy - in a good way.  It may not show the "true" side of Hoi An, but it is a lot more relaxing for us tourists :p 
No motorbike zooming around.  Higher hygiene standard.  
Morning glory is one example of things that is built for tourist.  

It is tastefully decorated with Vietnamese charms - lots of colourful lanterns

English menu is available.  
I wasn't feeling too well that day so went for a hot drink - kumquat with honey tea

We ordered everything that is famous for the region : 

Hoi An chicken rice

White Rose

Cao lau

Banh cuon

Pho ga

Vietnamese pancake 

Grilled pork skewer

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Chocolate Tasting Club by Hotel Chocolat

We have joined the chocolate tasting club where they regularly send you a box of chocolate to taste.
You can choose the frequency - from every month to 12 weeks?
It is not cheap though ( unless you take up the new customer offer and watch out for member only offers for expiring chocolate! )
Around 20 pounds a box including delivery.  You get around 30 chocolates in the box.
You can choose based on your preference whether you want dark / milk / fortified / classic (ie mixed)
Each time with a different theme e.g. winter pudding, summer pudding, Christmas collection etc.
It comes with a menu explaining the ingredients /  background of each chocolate and you can score them by posting them back the form / online : p
You get newsletter from time to time with chocolate ranking : )


I have to say the chocolate I've tasted here is a lot better than the more well known brand e.g. Godiva
There are some really interesting flavours e.g. black pepper praline! which I really enjoyed.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Ischia day 3 - Ristorante O' Pignattello, Lacco Ameno

We wanted to go to the restaurant on Monday but it was closed. 
They have quite a long menu and there were quite a lot of option - both traditional dishes and adventurous dishes

Amuse bouche - Courgette parcel with a little piece of fish in the middle. 

Bruschetta made with Tomato from Mt Vesuvius 
Have never seen tomatoes THAT red! 
It was slightly too salty though

White fish carpaccio served with red wine sorbet. 
On the side, they also gave us two salt grinder - one with pink Himalayan sea salt, another with blue Persian sea salt
We wanted to try and taste the difference so we sprinkle half of it with one and the other on the other half.  
We were a bit too greedy :S so it turnt out to be slightly tooooo salty.
I feel the chef should have done it for us instead.  

Pasta of the day - with white fish, little courgettes

Fresh pasta of the day - Gnocchi with octopus

Ischia rabbit tempura
The rabbit was moist yet crunchy on the outside. 

How can we not have a dessert :p - Lemon custard with layers of waffers and berries.

Ischia Day 3 - Da Pasquale, Sant'Angelo

We were going to visit the Mortella garden near Lacco Ameno
However, we learnt that it's closed on wednesday.
The staff recommended us to go to Sant' Angelo!
We took the smelly and crowded bus again till the final stop.

We found this little pizzeria hidden behind on the back street.  

Stuffed pepper with minced beef, olive and capers.

Shared a pizza with olive, artichoke, ham and pepper.
It was nice but slightly wet we thought.  

We attempted to walk up but the stairs up was blocked.

Stopped by for an espresso 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ischia Day 2 - Indaco, Lacco Ameno

Indaco has been highly praised at tripadvisor.. so we thought we should drop by while we were there :p 
It has also been awarded 1 Michelin star recently.  

We had a difficult time looking for the restaurant as the hotel has 2 different restaurants and Indaco's entrance is quite hidden. 
There were about 6 tables only.  I think they can extend to the outside on a nice day but we went there on a stormy night..so we sat inside.
I love their automatic door that connects to the kitchen lol - abit like those at the space station as featured in the sci-fi movies lol 

You can tell all the ingredients used were veryyyyyyyy fresh and carefully selected. 
The chef also worked very hard to get the most out of them.
We REALLY enjoyed the dinner and was very tempted to go again on the next day :p 

Lots of different breaddddd 
We love the purple potato crisps at the top..also the oregano crackers 
The butter was from Normandy - very rich 

A little amuse bouche from the chef - Tuna spaghetti.. 
yes.. it is tuna spaghetti!!  not sea urchin :p 
In the middle - it's chopped blue fin tuna, coated with charred spaghetti, served with potato cream.
loveeeeeeeeeeeee it :) 

Red king prawns and chicken from Bresse with blueberries, rosemary and walnuts 
- The prawns were very sweet, coated with chopped walnut.
Chicken was perrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect - slightly under so it was soooooo tender and moist.  
On the top left corner, it's not really a walnut but that is actually a piece of mozzarella in disguise :p 

Seafood salad with mashed beans and Provola cheese sauce
- Scallop was sweet and soft. very tender octopus
I prefer this one over the other starter

Ravioli stuffed with rabbit from Ischia with clams and seaweeIt's so cute that they have made it like little sweets! 
The clams were embedded underneath and you can really taste the sweetness of the sea. 
Very small portion though.

Pasta from Gragnano with raw and cooked fish and Barilotto cheese
So you have chopped raw tuna filled in a little pasta hoop at the top, raw squid perfectly dressed with a little piece of octopus at the top, raw prawn at the bottom.  
The pasta there was the best very have ever had! 

We have watched about Gragnano pasta from the bbc tv series - two greedy italian ( from 16.42) and have always wanted to try it out. 
Apparently it costs 5 quid for pack in London :p so we bought a few at the Naples airport for 3 euro to try it out. 

A little pre dessert - looks a bit like a little brown cherry tomato :p 
we can't remember what it was though :p 

Pine nuts creamy pudding with Criollo chocolate, raspberry and soda powder 
It was nice but not very exciting. 

Petit "four"
- My favourite was the fruit tart, the cigarillo and creme brulee pudding at the top.