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Vietnamese Cooking... the recipes!

I apologise for the wait....!

As promised, here are the recipes and instructions for the food we learned how to make at cafe 43.

Steamed Chicken in Banana Leaf

1 tsp smashed ginger
1/2 white onion
1/4 red pepper
bunch spring onions
small handful of sesame seeds
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp garlic
1 x tin foil piece
1 x banana leaf
200g chicken fillet - thin slices, no bones.

1. Add the garlic, pepper, salt and sugar to the chicken and mix together - leave for 3 minutes
2. Slice red pepper into thin slices.
3. Quarter, then halve the onion and peel each slice
3. In 2 tsp oil (coconut or olive), add the ginger and stir for few seconds.
4. Add the chicken and stir for 1 minute.
5. Add the onion slices and red pepper slices and cook for 3 minutes
6. Put mixture into the centre of the banana leaf
7. Add the spring onions and sesame seeds
8. Fold leaf from corner to centre x 4
9. Wrap banana leaf parcel in tin foil
10. Steam it for 5 minutes on top of another banana leaf/in a wicker (duck pancake) steamer.

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Papaya Salad

1 cup of mint
1/2 cup of peanuts
1/2 cup of fried onion bits
1 tsp ginger
1/2 lemon
1/2 green mango
1/4 green papaya
1/2 carrot
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 tsp sugar
100g minced shrimp (chopped very small)

1. Add garlic, pepper, salt and sugar (1/4) to shrimp
2. 2 tbsp oil in the pan - add the shrimp mixture - stir for 3 minutes
3. Grate carrot and papaya into long slices
4. Wash and drain
5. Add 3 tsp sugar, ginger and lemon juice to carrot and papaya - leave for 3 minutes
6. Peel skin from 1/2 mango and grate like carrot and papaya
7. Squeeze excess liquid from papaya and carrots
8. Add shrimp mixture, mit, onion and peanuts to the remaining ingredients and mix together gently

  • Tip - Use some prawn crackers as bowls and enjoy

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and the main event!

Pork filled fried squid

1 x squid (whole, with innards removed and washed)
1/2 white onion
1/4 carrot
bunch of spring onions
100g minced pork
chopped garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
vegetable oil

1. Add garlic, pepper, salt, and sugar to pork - mix - leave for 4 minutes

  • KEEP THE FOLLOWING SEPARATE*

2. Cut and dice onion into thin slices
3. Cut and dice carrot into thin slices
4. Chop small spring onion

5. 2 tbsp vegetable oil into hot pan
6. Add pork mixture and stir for 1 minute
7. Add white onion and carrot
8. Cook until soft and then add spring onion
9. Stir for 3 minutes on a low heat
10. Using a long-handled teaspoon, spoon pork mixture inside the squid and push down (tight!)

  • The squid is super slippery, so nails help to grip it!*

11. Use 2 toothpicks to close (should look like $ from a birdseye view!)
12. 2 tbsp oil into pan and add squid - medium heat
13. Turns brown on cooking side, turn over to brown other side
14. Serve on bed of lettuce and cut the top of the squid (with scissors) into slices but not all the way through!
15. It should look a little like sushi rolls, as long as it was compacted enough before shallow frying.

  • Tip - make a dipping sauce out of 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp salt, and the juice of a small lime!

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Yummy!

Posted by Lady Mantle 08:08 Archived in Vietnam Tagged food travel vietnam travelling hoi_an foreigners cafe_43 cooking_course stuffed_squid papaya_salad vietnamese_recipes vietnamese_pork_stuffed_squid squid_recipe steamed_chicken banana_leaf_recipe Comments (0)

Vietnam

(Sorry for the delay!)

sunny 30 °C

We got royally screwed by a taxi driver, paying $7 instead of the $1.50 it should have cost, but we were greeted with smiles and open arms by The Town House 50E hostel, Ho Chi Minh City - very nice after a long journey!

We put our stuff away and showered before we got talking to Johnny (friendliest, most kind and helpful employee I've ever encountered).
He helped us to book an open bus ticket so we could get up Vietnam, getting on and off at our chosen destinations/pre-booked accommodation; he helped us to book a tour to the Cu Chi Vietcong Tunnels which gave us the Vietnamese account of the intrusion of American forces.
We befriended a lovely couple who became our day-trip buddies which was fun.

Naturally we went to a factory place before we got to the Cu Chi Tunnels, to buy a drink or a snack or perhaps an 8ft carving.....?!
As tedious as these planned shopping opportunities were, this place and the skills required to create these beautiful pieces was quite interesting.

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When we first arrived at the Cu Chi Tunnels, we watched a short documentary about the war.
Obviously we were brought up knowing about the Vietnam war, but it was incredibly interesting to hear the other side of the story.
This video spoke about war heroes of Vietnam based on how many American intruders were killed.
It described how these simple villagers used their farming and land knowledge to lay animal traps for the American troops and after the video concluded, we were shown some of these traps!
They are quite brutal (naturally!), but when untrained 'soldiers' were facing highly adept troops, the designs of these traps were truly revolutionary in warfare.

Bamboo was fully utilised providing hidden underground spikes under moving boards; ventilation and airways in man-made anthills for the tunnels they lived in underground; and as crockery to cook and store sticky rice. By using the forest they'd lived in their whole lives, they knew how to survive, protect themselves and avoid getting killed - they even cannabolised the US bombs and shells to make new weapons.

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Ricky bravely went in a hidden hole into the tunnels that I wouldn't have got a leg in and secured the camouflaged roof above him.
We didn't even know it was there until our guide pulled off the top!

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We walked around (on the path, for fear of unrecovered landmines!) lerning more information as we did so. There was an opportunity to fire an M16 or AK47, but neither of us was so inclined as the noise was unsettling enough!

We made our way to the tunnel entrance and descended into the dimly lit chamber preceeding the tunnel itself.
It was small, stupid remark I know, but it was.
I thought we'd have to crawl but we ended up doing weird half stoop/half dog-on-it's-bum shuffling.
I had my knees bent a little and my back was brushing the roof of the tunnel.
I managed to go a whole 20 metres before imagining scenarios of my getting trapped and dying before escaping up top through a side tunnel.
Ricky and our day-trip friends "mmm" and Adrian continued and apparently it got quite squeezy in some places.
I'm still proud of my 20 metres with nothing but the torch I luckily had in my bag, (I probably wouldn't have fit a few years ago!)

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After the full 200 metre tunnel system available to tourist, Ricky, Mmm and Adrian emerged, hot, sweaty and a little dusty, but generally not too worse for wear!

We walked back to the minibus contemplating the lives these people must have lived underground, knowing that in this day and age, we wouldn't be able to.

We got back to Saigon and said goodbye to our day-trip friends before heading back to the hostel to wait for the bus to Mui Ne.
We left around 8.30pm and arrived in Mui Ne at 1.30am......

Posted by Lady Mantle 23:18 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam bamboo ho_chi_minh_city traps cu_chi_tunnels vietcong the_town_house_50e Comments (0)

Back to China :)

After a summer holiday in the UK...

sunny 28 °C

So... after having been in China for 10 months, and then spending 5 weeks in the UK to catch up with old friends over the summer, I find myself back on my home soil - China.

It's strange to go from living somewhere so familiar for a such a long time, to move to somewhere so different in so many ways, only to feel more at home and at peace with yourself in your new surroundings rather than your old ones.

China is so incredible and has been the best decision I think I've ever made. Asia is so beautiful and so are the people, their cultures and how they treat people. I feel so at home here and welcome. When I finally returned, people welcomed me with love and open arms and I've never been so happy to be anywhere in the world.

Obviously the proximity to other Asian countries is ideal for travelling and allowing me to see other wonderful cultures on this side of the world, but more so than that, it allows me to continue soaking up the atmosphere and really emerge myself in the culture and customs and especially the language of this amazing country.

Ay, there's the rub! The language! It still eludes me but everyday I feel as though another word or the correct pronunciation sticks in my brain a little longer. It's so unfamiliar having to use tones and intonation to change a word rather than provide emphasis as we do in the English language. However, I welcome the challenge and will hopefully reap the rewards in due time.

People tell me I am an inspiration - I enjoy this idea but don't believe it. I feel very blessed to have found the strength to do what I have done but it was inspiration that drew me to this place; I can only hope that my story helps others find the inspiration to do something they will truly love with their whole heart as I do now.

At the minute however, I feel very disconnected from myself which is making me feel disconnected from China so this needs to be rectified immediately! I think my brief time in the UK has reset me somehow, so I feel like I have to re-tune myself to my surroundings and rejoice in them once again. A brief moment in time showed me that although I love it here, and I do, when something happens and I cannot find a friend here to console me, I still have people in my life, albeit in a different country, that can still bestow good wishes and vibes on me which is reassuring and gives me hope that even though rivers and oceans separate me from the most important people in my life, they are never truly that far away.

This new school year promises to be a fruitful one - my kids from last year are my kids this year so I get to enjoy their growth from the beginning until the end, which will be very rewarding. The plan for Chinese New Year is Cambodia, Vietnam and possibly Malaysia so watch this space for another look at the Asian world through the eyes of a soon to be once again optimistic western traveller :)

Posted by Lady Mantle 05:52 Archived in China Tagged cambodia malaysia vietnam work chinese_food travelling students teaching teachers foreigners tefl new_beginnings chinese_games starting_again Comments (0)

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