A trip through Hoi An the prettiest part of Vietnam and the acknowledged food capital of the country inspired these fresh spring rolls, wrapped in rice paper. In this post we review 2 great cooking schools in Hoi An as well as the recipe for these healthy and tasty, fresh spring rolls.
We detailed some of the activities you can undertake in world-heritage listed Hoi An, but for me at least, the highlight of this town was the food. And where else can you attend a private, half-day cooking class for less than $20? Vietnam, it is honestly a bargain! It’s not just the scenery and the food but the vibe of the place. The people are lovely and I would happily return to Hoi An each year and indeed, many expats now call Hoi An home.
So onto the cooking schools in Hoi An.
Red Bridge Cooking School in Hoi An
After check in and coffee, we traveled by minivan for 10 minutes to Tra Que Organic Village, and walked through the market gardens where local farmers work their fields using the traditional methods of hundreds of years ago – no electrical or mechanical machinery here! We picked fresh saw-tooth coriander and Vietnamese mint for our cooking lesson later, before trying a special herbal drink at a local home. The area was stunningly beautiful and the vegetable fields looked very healthy.
Next, we headed off to the local village market and with shopping list in hand we purchased a range of local ingredients, including star anise, cardamom, sesame rice paper, water spinach and banana flower.
Arriving at Red Bridge Cooking School (set on the Hoi An River) we freshen up before beginning our class. Working together (and enjoying the complimentary beer, wine and soft drink) with our Red Bridge chef we learned the traditional ways of preparing and cooking Vietnamese food from scratch, including making our own rice noodles (easy but you need the right equipment). We made:
- Beef Noodle Soup or Pho Bo including the making of fresh rice noodles
- Lemongrass Shrimp grilled in Banana Leaves (Tom Nuong La Chuoi)
- Clay Pot Fish with Fresh Dill (Cha Ca)
- Grilled Chicken and Banana Flower Salad (Goi Hoa Chuoi Ga Nuong)
After the class we sat down at a beautifully set table to eat our meal. It was hot and we had worked hard but the complimentary wine, beer and soft drink had left us very mellow for our relaxing boat cruise down the river back to Hoi An.
It was a great experience and at $49 USD superb value. And vegetarians are well catered for. If you are looking for a great cooking school in Hoi An we do recommend Red Bridge Cooking School.
Red Dragon Restaurant Cooking School
The Red Dragon restaurant was recommended to us by our hotel. We went to eat there on our first night in Hoi An. It is a small, family-run business. We enjoyed fresh mango and chicken spring rolls and eggplant cooked in clay pot. The food was of an excellent quality and really great value. We particularly liked the friendly service.
On talking with the owner he mentioned he also teaches morning cooking classes, meaning we could enjoy the spoils of our labor at lunch time. We were there!
The class was just for the two of us and was run by the owner, also the chef. It was a really intimate cooking class. We made a trip to the nearby market to purchase the ingredients for our cooking lesson. It is all very flexible and we could choose what we made, anything ranging from crispy spring rolls, to grilled lime leaf chicken on skewers, to grilled fish in banana leaf. Vietnamese food, you can’t beat it!
The Red Dragon cooking school is nothing fancy, but where else can you pay $19 for a private morning cooking class and learn to make great Vietnamese food from the chef? Just sensational value. And such a humble host trying to do the best for his family. The experience was just as good as the Red Bridge Cooking School but a more intimate experience. We highly recommend the Red Dragon Cooking School in Hoi An as well.
Here is the Trip Advisor listing for this restaurant, where I am thrilled to see that the Red Dragon is so highly rated in such a competitive tourist town. Well deserved.
Fresh Spring Rolls
Easy Hoi An inspired fresh spring rolls are in honor of these 2 great Hoi An cooking schools and the fabulous weeks we spent in Hoi An. If you could only go to one place in Vietnam, the town of Hoi An would be my choice. Serve these fresh spring rolls with this peanut sauce.
FREE PRINTABLE SHOPPING LIST
All the specialty ingredients you need to make the Vietnamese recipes on Compass & Fork on one handy printable shopping list.