I should start by letting you know that I don’t cook. I did cook at one point in my life, out of necessity, but then my husband took up cooking and he’s quite fantastic and actually finds it enjoyable. Who am I to deprive him of that joy?
I also didn’t care much for the Vietnamese food that I had tried in America. I knew it was famous, and tried it on quite a few occasions, but I just didn’t like it and was slightly worried that I might starve during our two weeks in Vietnam.
I learned right away that I was wrong about Vietnamese food. It’s been a full week and I’ve loved everything I’ve tried. In fact, I’ve probably already gained a couple of pounds from eating so much food here. But loving to eat and wanting to cook are two very different things. So attending a cooking class in Hoi An was something I was doing mainly to be a good wife and keep the husband company.
Green Mango restaurant managed to turn around my viewpoint on that as well. Our cooking class at their Hoi An location was so wonderful that I’m now actually excited to attend cooking classes all along our travel route (so long as they don’t interfere with snorkeling or nap time, of course)!
We were the only two people signed up for the class on this particular morning, which meant we basically enjoyed a private class. It may have been a bit more work on our part, but we got to be involved in every step of every dish. There were two instructors to guide us through the process, a young man who spoke no English and a young woman with quite good English skills. They would demonstrate and explain each step, then let us try, then kindly correct the thing that I was doing wrong (husband didn’t have this problem since he actually knows how to use a knife properly).
In total we made a five course meal, including dipping sauces, and actually feel confident enough that we could recreate the dishes once we’re home. Of course the mangos aren’t as ripe in America, and I have no clue where to find banana flowers or Vietnamese coriander, but we’ll definitely do our best to replicate this delicious and healthy feast for our family.
Our five courses included:
1. Fresh spring rolls with jicama, mango, and shiso leaf with a chili lime dipping sauce
2. Banana flower salad with shredded chicken, carrot and green papaya, and a sprinkle of peanuts and sesame seeds
3. Pho Bo – a beef noodle soup in a cinnamon and star anise broth with fresh herbs
4. Bun Ga Tron – a dish of rice noodles, lemongrass marinated chicken, fresh herbs, pickled carrots and green papaya, all coated in a chili lime fish sauce and topped with peanuts, sesame seeds and crunchy shallot bits
5. Mango sticky rice with a coconut and Malibu rum sauce, covered in a light dusting of sesame seeds
If you ever find yourself with a free morning or afternoon in Hoi An, Vietnam, definitely check out the cooking class at Green Mango. You’ll leave with new skills, a new appreciation for Vietnamese food, a very full belly, and possibly even a to go bag with the food you couldn’t finish! For the $25 USD cost, you’d be hard pressed to find a 5 course meal that delicious in just about any other country!
*If you’re feeling lazy, you can just go there for lunch or dinner and let the cooks do all the work.
*There are several different menus you can choose from, including a vegetarian option. The class normally includes a visit to the market, but this is optional and since the husband and I were both under the weather, we opted not to go and the ingredients were brought to us. The Hanoi location also offers cooking classes, but they are more expensive and only include 4 dishes.