Fish sauce & bourbon cocktail
Shrimp bahn xeo
Seared lemongrass beef bun with nuoc mam
Hearty chicken pho
Vietnamese iced-coffee mousse
The herbs are waiting for you! What I personally love about Vietnamese food is how fresh everything tastes with the abundance of bright green. Herbs like Thai basil, mint, cilantro, shiso all pack a punch — perfect to pair with the vibrancy of Vietnamese cuisine. A squeeze of lime, a crunch of cucumber or bean sprouts, a sprinkle of fresh chile will take it over the top.
We start the class with a Fish sauce & bourbon cocktail. Yes, you read that right! At Hipcooks, we’re famous for turning the Fish Sauce Suspicious into Fish Sauce freaks. It’s so umami! Here, we turn even the most skeptical into fans by speaking your language: putting it into a cocktail. Think about the classic margarita. Now, sub the tequila for bourbon. Sub the simple for a spicy simple (in this case, with lemongrass and chile). You still with me? Now, sub the salt for fish sauce. Not such a stretch, is it? If you still have doubts, come to class and be transformed.
The food opener: Bahn Xeo
The French introduced crêpes. The Vietnamese answered with their own spectacular version. Using rice flour and turmeric to color, these super-thin pancakes are cooked to crispy-edged perfection. Roll them in a salad leaf, in a rice-paper wrap, or over a salad.
Where have you bun all my life? If you never have tried bun, here’s the best ever: the one you make at Hipcooks! And then, of course, the one you make the day after class, and the day after that, and the day after that. Mix your cold noodles with your favorite amounts of veggies, herbs, meat and dress with nuoc mam, for the perfect balance of sweet, sour, spicy and salty.
You come to class for the Pho. So here it is! This rich broth will not disappoint.
A recipe for you: Nuoc mam
No Vietnamese feast would be complete without nuoc mam — the spicy, salty, sweet and sour sauce gets served with nearly everything. Make a big batch of it (doubling or tripling the recipe) and you’ll begin to do the same. Nuoc mam with your morning scrambled eggs? Yes, please!
The traditional way to make the nouc mam is using a mortar and pestle (as the recipe specifies). If you have a lot to make (like we do in class), you can cheat with a food processor or a blender using a pulse function.
makes about 2 cups
6 tablespoons sugar
½ cup hot water
20 garlic cloves
10-20 Thai chilies, destemmed
juice of 6 lime
1 cup fish sauce
Dissolve the sugar in the hot water.
Using a large mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and chilies to a smooth paste. (You can give them a rough chop first to make this process faster.) Transfer to a bowl or small pitcher and add the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust for balance.
Because of the salty fish sauce, nouc mam should keep in the fridge for over a week.