Tuesday, June 28, 2016

MENU goes East - A cooking lesson and dining on Dragon Legend 1, Ha Long Bay

The very special food on our three day cruise on Dragon Legend in Ha Long Bay
We did two cooking classes on our holiday, the first one was on the Dragon Legend in Ha Long Bay where we learnt to make the Vietnamese version of spring rolls. They use rice paper wraps but they are not the familiar rice paper rolls we associate with Vietnamese cooking. Although we did learn one good tip about softening them
Our Tour leader Smiley Huang getting the table ready for the chef. He told us that because Vietnamese names are deemed so difficult to pronounce by the passengers, all the staff have western nicknames in front of their surnames. His is well deserved, he was always cheerful. We had a Tom Cruise, a JAck Daniel and a Johnny Walker
The rice paper pancakes we get here seem to be much thicker than the ones we use. Instead of dipping them in water, they have a plate of about the same dimensions and on it a wet tea towel. You take the rice paper pancake and press it on the tea towel, turn over, repeat, and it is soft enough to roll
The contents: Finely sliced mushrooms (wood ear fungus is what they used, you can use other mushrooms), chopped onion, chopped carrot & chopped spring onions. To which they added some finely chopped pork, garlic, shallots, Vietnamese fish sauce, a spoonful of sugar, salt and pepper
Then the ingredients are mixed together very well
On a damp rice paper sheet they put one dessertspoon only of the mixture, then make one fold
Fold the sides in and then carefully roll up and set aside
The chefs in the kitchen doing the deep frying
One at a time added to the hot oil in the wok
Turned carefully, cooked till golden brown and bubbly on the outside. Then drained
Our chef was a master at vegetable carving
It was amazing what he could create out of a few pieces of pumpkin and melon
Supper on the last night was a feast
Green salad with carrot sauce. All the meals start with a salad
The Vietnamese Spring rolls we had made
Sautéed Prawns with Aloe leaves in butter and Garlic. The prawns were lovely, the aloe leaves not at all. They have a jellied texture and are completely tasteless. Rather like sea slugs
Pan fried beef with special sauce was delicious
The chef's amazing dragon sculpture
The chef made a speech, translated by Huang
We had a newly engaged couple from California, Amber and Jeff, on board ship. They were given this heart shaped cake
All the crew came on deck to say goodbye
And they also gave them a present to remember the voyage
The Captain also made a speech
Next day we had an early lunch as we were leaving the boat at midday and the crew showed us some of the items they make while afloat from the discarded items. A house made from drinking straws, matchsticks and tin cans. In the background, a canned Christmas tree
The final lunch was a buffet and was extremely good. But all the food was outstanding. Fresh, varied and not too much starch
Some of the things on offer for lunch
Stir fried rice with vegetables
Always fish and seafood: sautéed fish with sweet and sour sauce and deep fried squid
The squid was superb
The chicken curry, very mild, and Vietnamese style grilled pork
And with the pork and fish we even had chips
These are the menus for the three main meals we had. Lunch on day 2 was a beach barbecue

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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