Saturday 30th June
Charlie & Co. were invited as guests.

This evening we were delighted to attend a 'Home Style Vietnamese Cooking' Class in the cafe kitchen of Two Kings Cafe, at Bentleigh Station (well super close) hosted by 'The Food Affectionist' Lillie.

A chef of Cantonese and Vietnamese descent, growing up in Vietnam there she's an expert on all things fresh, delicious and balanced while never compromising on flavour (there's no kale here :P). With 25yrs of experience in the kitchen she just knows how much of what to pop into the pot, without measuring it - something I see as a magical skill, as being a baker-ish we measure everything, it's precise and according to 'the girl next door' who's a cook, no fun (though as a maths person I don't agree :P).

Full Disclosure - I don't cook (though occasionally dabble, like witchcraft XD), le beau cooks, I bake - sweet things. I also have no knife skills that don't make me look like a serial killer...

With an apron on, rings removed, and hands washed we were ready!

Tonight we made...

1. Fish sauce - the basis of Vietnamese food, used to dip and dress any salad, dress any rice/noodle/carb-y dish. (Sorry didn't get a picture of this).

2. Vietnamese Chicken Slaw Salad - So tangy and fresh with an amazing dressing I would order this dish as a main any day, and add green papaya. "It was very fresh, had that balance if sweet and sour, tangy-ness. Felt very healthy and nutritious" - Says Andy. 

This is the filling for the spring rolls. 

Ready to deep fry!

3. Spring Rolls - Not your typical just a prawn, or just lettuce and carrot from the freezer kind. With mince, mushrooms (type), carrot, plenty of sauce and seasoning this is THE spring roll!. Especially served wrapped up in lettuce, herbs, vinaigrette carrots/dikon and dipped into a homemade fish sauce. We had so much fun wrapping these delights up! Ticking 'make spring rolls' off the list.

Andy says "Spring rolls were great, very hot,  crunchy and crispy. Flavours were enhanced when eaten wrapped with pickled carrot slices, herbs and lettuce and dipped in the homemade fish sauce."

Tip - Make heaps, freeze them in a tub, tap on counter to separate while frozen.

4. Pork Meatballs - to be honest felt it was lacking something. Wasn't as meaty, or sweet as I'd expected, but was wrapped in the same tasty salads as the spring rolls. - Andy

Mixing it up with a spring roll in a rice paper roll. I do love rice paper rolls done properly.

5. Grilled Pork - No comments as I didn't eat this.

Lillie's plate, how lovely is this dish?

We're loving these knifes, second recommendation from a cooking class. 
They're like $5 from those asian homeware shops that sell everything. 

Work in Progress.

6. Banh Xeo (that yellow crunchy flour pancake, it's savory) - Surprisingly easy to make and not mess up, though ours (first time we're making them) was pretty meh, not very crunchy and kinda a flop - but we shall practice!

We made so much that we couldn't eat it all! There were seven dishes and we all got our hands in there for five, the other two were demonstrated, and we all got to try some.

Those chilies are for decoration only. :P

7. Banana Tapioca Pudding in Coconut Milk

I love all things creamy and coconut, this was quite lovely and light! Little gel like balls. It was slightly sweet, and perfect. Easy to make, with cheap ingredients too. Oh and you can substitute the banana for mango in summer (add when the pudding is chilled though).

Andy says it was really good, very delicious. The banana was the perfect ingredient that complemented the dessert. Not too sweet but satisfying.

The group was quite small with just two couples (though 6 people were booked in), Lillie as our instructor and Tara & Pafu, assisting chefs. Seven people in the kitchen, everyone got a go at creating each dish, and plating it up. One of the best cooking classes we've been to. The only thing that could make it even better is a drink on arrival, related to the cuisine eg. Vietnamese iced coffee or a lemongrass pandan mocktail. 

The workshop was well paced over 3hrs, we had fun and never felt rushed or bored. An excellent presenter and instructor there was always opportunities for questions, and Lillie gave out some awesome tips along the way. Like with rice paper rolls, the secret to them not all sticking together is adding coconut cream/milk into the water when you're hydrating/wetting the wrappers. That is so brilliant!

Workshop was great overall, Lillie was an excellent instructor, very high level of skill and knowledge, an expert in Vietnamese food - Andy. 

Highly recommended as a fun date night activity or outing with friends, or even solo for some up skilling and to surprise the husband/wife. 

Tickets are $125pp or $100pp for groups of up to 8 people, and can be purchased hereAnd while you're there check out the other cuisine workshops, we can't wait to do the Japanese one soon!

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