Vietnam 

A Continental Cuisine Series

Vietnam Journal

Part 5

Next day after a fab breakfast we film with Conrado the resorts Executive Head Chef in the beach kitchen. He makes Cau Lau, local delicacy of pork (Char Siew) in a deep sauce made with ginger, lemon grass and spices. He then blanches bean sprouts (not woked) basil, mint and noodles made and coloured by the root ash from a certain tree then cooked refreshed and added to a bowl, topped with fried rice squares its a local delicacy to the Quang Nam province. Its really delicious and a perfect breakfast dish. 

We then film with Conrado in the hotels organic herb garden. Its bloody hot, he's relaxed but sweating. We watch 4 women work in the sweltering heat, even after all the rain they are still watering as the soil is more sand than soil and drains really quickly. They grow many things including water spinach and sweet potato flowers plus papaya.

All of which go to the restaurants in the resort. Thank goodness the sun is out as we confirm to Jack we can film in the early afternoon.

By time we get there Jacks its slightly cooler, but still sunny and humid. We park outside the village and decide to film the local kids eating lunch. Its all good fun to them, even the mums get involved and have a laugh. I feel a bit like the pied piper.

We eat a light lunch of spring rolls and dipping sauce and beer, made by Jack's mum Rose in the family restaurant called The End Of The World, not sure why.

After lunch be climb into 2 long boats and head off to the jungle about ¼ of a mile away.
Jack explains that in the height of the war with America, the Viet Cong would hide here in this thick lush jungle and wait for the Americans. They would eat fish and crabs, and were superb swimmers. The Americans found it very difficult to hunt them down.

We then film with Jack and Bai 7, he is a local fisherman, Bai is his name, 7 is a reference to his teeth, he only has 7.
He teaches me to cast his net, all good fun for the camera, I'm sure he was taking the mickey. I then cook a dish for them, steamed grey mullet with herbs and dipping sauce. The sauce is a base of what I had seen at Conrado's restaurant, just a little sweeter. The fish is beautifully fresh and I think they were happy!!

As we chug back, I film a piece to camera as the sun is setting, we have been so lucky with the weather, and that's the day over.

After a quick kip and a shower, outside this time, its time for dinner.
Dinner in hotel this evening was on Conrado, he was going to cook us classic Vietnamese fare. I was excited, he did not disappoint. We had 4 brilliant courses, to start with spring rolls. These had various fillings from prawn to pork to a veggie option. They were light, crisp and packed full of flavour.

Next a local fish soup with ginger, again, good and packed full of flavour and light.
Quickly followed by 6 clay pots, an authentic cooking vessel filled with an array of gorgeous flavours, texture and proteins. The sauces are finished with tamarind, caramel and molasses flavour profiles. The sauces have a deep, powerful flavour

The pots included chicken, pork, squid, duck, fish and frogs legs, all perfectly cooked.
The main courses were accompanied by rice noodles and steamed rice, all washed down with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc.

Feeling stuffed I just managed to force down a rather pleasant poached mung bean jelly with ginger, very light and good. This was the best meal so far, probably of the whole trip, balanced, assured cooking with a brilliant balance of complex flavours and textures wow.

Slept really well and woke up for Breakfast. This time I had Pho Bo which is braised beef with noodles, Holy Basil, and beansprout in fragrant broth.

JD tells me he wants to film in my room as sort of Apocalypse Now moment. The bit where Martin Sheen wakes up looking at the room fan, thinking its the rotor blades from a Huey helicopter. To tell you the truth I could not remember it, but a quick look on You Tube soon sorts it out. Its fun.

We then film on China beach and the swimming pool at the Nam Hai, its so beautiful. I get chatting to two Aussies; they love Jamie and Nigella, oh well!!

We set off to Hoi An, to get GV's then have a simple lunch, crabs, White Rose dumplings, spring rolls and beer, then film flooded bridges.

Hoi An is a real tourist trap, full of shops selling fake shirts and hats. Its so different from Han Noi. We haggle for tea shirts, all good fun. We film weddings on the street (this is the time of year) and eat a wonderful silken tofu drenched in fresh ginger syrup form an old lady on the side of the street, its again totally delicious, sadly I did not get a photo. The street markets are packed, selling anything from a simmered duck egg phoetus to rip off hats and handbags. By now its teeming down again. JD makes me film in the pouring rain...twice. I say he will never use it, he shouts, I say my piece, its all goes quiet. We finally pack in filming and yes, have a beer.

Tuc our guide takes us back to the hotel, and says he will drop us back for dinner later. I get back to the room and pack my bag as we have an early start the next day. I have a quick sleep, then back to Hoi An for dinner at the Green Mango, a new restaurant that had just opened. It was a bit weird really, sort of poncy Vietnamese food, done the Heston way. We could have been in London. Food looked incredible but no substance. Back to the hotel a bit tired now.

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