What’s not to love about Vietnamese food – tempting ingredients, fragrant sauces, fresh herbs and delicate flavours.
My culinary skills needed to expand from slow roast lamb and Winter casseroles. My friend Laura suggested I join her in a Vietnamese cooking class at The Sauce Kitchen in Toowoomba. We were perched on stools around large tables with a cooktop at one end – recipes and knives at the ready.
Chef Sally Lynch from Taste Trekkers kept us fascinated with the ways to work out the balance of flavours – hot/spicy, sour, sweet and salty – a little more lime/lemon juice, a little less sugar, all depending on your tastebuds and personal preference. The sauces we made can be prepared in advance. Fish dipping sauce (nuoc mam cham) can last for a couple of weeks and the bean sauce (nuoc tuong) lasts for months in the refrigerator.
As we prepared the ingredients and cooked each meal under the guidance of Sally, a glass of white wine was a welcome addition.
Sally’s tips for cutting onions, peeling ginger, cooking onions with peanut or grapeseed oil instead of olive oil, adding a little extra chilli and soaking the black rice overnight so it becomes softer, make a huge difference to the finished recipe. Consider being able to cook this Vietnamese Banquet – which we did – and enjoying every mouthful!
Food glorious food – thank goodness The Sauce Kitchen has regular cooking classes to expand our culinary capabilities.
The Sauce Kitchen
Taste Trekkers (Chef – Sally Lynch)
Words by Jan Knox