In the Garden of Madame Ha

Keeping up the food theme I’m posting a revised version of a short item from Vietnam with links to a few pictures of the cooking class in Hue. Again just click on the link to see the photos.
It was overcast and drizzly but we spent a great morning at Ting Gia Vien attending a cooking class with one of Vietnam’s national treasures – the delightful Madame Ha. Her restaurant has been on the must-visit list for tourists to Hue for 30 years. Her style of cooking is a trifle elaborate for the home cook – unless you happen to have six assistants hanging around to carve carrot flowers and taro root phoenix heads – but great fun to at least try.

Laurent and I were the only two in the class held on the bonsai and orchid crowded terrace of her restaurant/home. The surrounding garden has the appearance of having just grown naturally – trees, flowers, statues and rockeries thrown together with no plan – so unlike the elaborate food we were to prepare.

Madame Ha is one of nature’s teachers – her own joy in cooking, even after all these years, is contagious. We laughed at our mistakes, basked in her compliments on our omelet techniques and created some fun dishes. The Peacock and the Pineapple Lantern were not all that difficult but still labour intensive.

However the Dance of the Phoenix – our centre piece – was an elaborate dish that we laboured over for almost 3 hours. It took an hour alone to make the thin duck egg omelets – 30 in all. Next they had to be stuff, rolled and steam – another hour; then cut, assembled and fussed over. Though the final result was gorgeous to see and tasted great I won’t be serving it at any dinner parties in the near future.

However for anyone who has an extra six hours to spend in the kitchen, I’ll be more than happy to send you the recipes. But you’ll have to pay for your own kitchen helpers.

And that dragon in the picture at the left? It’s a a simple carrot and coleslaw side salad! Of course!

Author: Willym

A senior with the heart of a young'un

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