The moment I had longed for finally came, I could take out my tiny summer dresses, get rid of my terminally ill looking pale skin and switch from hot coffee with condensed milk to the iced version (short-term cooling off, long-term stomach problems: ice isn’t necessarily made from clean water).
My three days in Hoi An were total bliss: lots of good eating (seriously, that banh mi was the best), sizzling in the sun, morning bike ride to the beach (aka getting sunburned at 9 am), more bike rides (I’m too Dutch to function – riding a bike feels like home to me), visiting the My Son sanctuary and getting some cheap tailor-made shoes and dresses (whoops, this was not included in the budget).
Cao Lầu – chewy noodles with pork meat, bean sprouts, herbs, casave chips and soy sauce. Continue reading…
My entire trip in Vietnam was centered around food: the first thing I would do before going to a new city was doing research on what and where to get the best food. And before taking the train and bus to Hanoi I had already booked two cooking classes to learn how to make some of the refined Vietnamese dishes the cuisine is known for.
I was eager to learn, but unfortunately I was a bit disappointed. The cooking classes, not surprisingly though, target audience are tourists who are looking for a fun activity during their travelling, not necessarily people who love cooking and do it regulary. So in the “hands-on” cooking classes I barely did any cooking myself, but luckily I learned a lot of new things, like the big spoon is called a tablespoon and the small spoon is called a teaspoon..
Chinese-style broccoli is one of my favorite veggie dishes. Instead of cooking the broccoli to baby food consistency – something that people do way too often back home – the vegetable is blanched and stir-fried to perfect cooked softness, while still retaining its crunch.
This green vitamin bomb is already delicious on its own, but a little bit of spring onion and oyster sauce just brings the dish to a next level. It’s really hard to screw up this recipe, just make sure to blanch and stir-fry the broccoli only for a couple of minutes and you’ll be fine.
The only thing that I changed about this recipe is that I cut back on the oil. I’m sure it will still taste great without the obscene amount of oil we used in cooking class.
Before I left I had all these expectations – which can also be called worries – of what my life would be like here in Beijing. I worried about my classes being too difficult, about my lacking Chinese language skills, about making new friends and about everything else you can possibly worry about – luckily non of these worries keep me up at night any more. The only thing that I didn’t worry about was the food: I knew I would be in the luxurious position of having multiple delicious meals a day. This became reality and every time I’m about to eat something I get really excited cause I know it will be sooo good. Another thing I expected was that I would be eating a lot of Peking Duck 北京烤鸭 and that might be the only food-expectation that, unfortunately, didn’t happen, yet. I’ve been here for one and a half months and I haven’t had the dish where Beijing is so famous for. So for next week I think I’ll be focussing on getting myself some Peking Duck.
Even though I didn’t have the Peking Duck dish, I did eat some duck. We’ve made this incredibly delicious and succulent braised duck in one of the cooking classes. It’s not al all difficult to make, the only thing you’ll need is patience to let the duck braise for an hour (or more) and the result will be all worth it.
Yesterday was one of my lucky days: my day started with an awesome trip to a local Chinese market and then it got even better with two interesting, fun and delicious Chinese cooking classes. In the morning class we learned how to make a chicken, a duck, a fish and a broccoli dish. In the afternoon class we learned how to make dumplings and how to make these incredibly delicious noodles. Not only were the classes really fun, but the setting was just amazing, since the classes were held in a hutong (traditional courtyard houses).
Making these noodles is even easier than making home-made pasta, since the only ingredients you’ll need for the dough are flour, salt and water. It probably will take some practice to get really comfortable making them for a weekday night, but it’s a thing I definitely see myself doing in the future – when I’ll be in the lucky position of having a kitchen to my disposal that is. But until then I’ll just have to enjoy all the noodles in the restaurants and street stalls here in Beijing.
*For those of you who wonder if I really am in Beijing after seeing this Dutch-style apron – don’t, I really am in Beijing.