Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dish name: nem cuốn
Introduction from each members:
Xin chào các bạn.
-Tên tiếng Việt của mình là Hồng. Tôi là người Malaysia. Mình thích nấu ăn.
-Tôi tên là Hàng. Tôi là sinh viên nam thứ ba. Tôi thích nấu ăn nhưng tôi ít khi nấu vì tôi không thời gian.
-Tôi tên tiếng Việt là Mạnh, là người Đức. Năm nay mình hai mươi ba tuổi và học toán học ở Singapo. - Tôi tên là Anh. Tôi là người Singapo.
Before starting the hard work...

Our Golden Recipe : Main Ingredients:
Bean sprouts
Chicken strip
Rice paper
Thin bee hon

Dipping Sauce:
ChiliFish sauceGarlic Lemon juice
Decorations: Fried egg
ChiliBroccoli Carrot

1)All chicken, prawns and bee hon were precooked and cold to room temperature.
2)All veggies and herbs are cleaned, dried, and set out before we started.
3)Dip a sheet of rice paper wrapper into water very quickly, no longer than a second or two (or they will get too soggy) and lay flat on a work surface.
4)On one edge, lay a small handful of bee hon, a few strips of chicken, some shrimp, some herb and mint leaves, a lettuce leaf, and bean sprouts, all to taste but don't overstuff.
5)Carefully start to roll up and tuck in the sides, then continue to roll up-but not too tightly or the spring roll will split.

Preparing the herbs

Preparing the dipping sauce and main ingredients
Wrapping the spring roll


As this is the first time we all cooked this Vietnamese dishes, we were quite nervous the night before .We divided the preparation works among us ,some picked the bean sprouts ,some fried eggs, some cooked noodles and some prepared the decorative vegetables. The works seemed to be simple yet each of us took around two hours in trying out each individual’s part.

On the competition day, we gathered at nhà cô Bích to wrap the spring rolls and prepared the dipping sauce. The most difficult part was getting the right proportion of sugar and fish sauce in preparing the dipping sauce which we took around 45 minutes to get a nod from cô Bích’s to our perfect dipping sauce.The next challenging task is rolling the spring roll .Sometimes if we put in too much ingredients then the spring roll will have holes.

The end….
We were very satisfied with our final product. This was indeed a piece of art. We were able to complete the cooking within such a short time although most of us seldom cook. All of us agreed that the teachers liked our spring rolls very much especially the sauce. All of us also agreed that cooperation and independence are need for team work. We were glad that this module provides us a chance to learn how to prepare a Vietnamese traditional cuisine. As learning a language also includes learning its culture, country and people, this is a precious opportunity for foreign students like us to learn more about Vietnam.
Final Product

Members with the final product

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chè đậu xanh

Xin chào các thầy cô và các bạn!

Sáng nay, four little chef wannabe headed down to the famous Vietnam restaurant @ nhà cô Bích to learn the ropes of preparing Vietnam culinary! We were among the first team to reach nhà cô Bích. Filled with energy, excitement and a bit of nervousness, the four chefs let their power combine and start preparing their carefully prepared dish for the day Chè đậu xanh (Green Bean Soup). Recalling the steps from our cooking rehearsal just yesterday at Xindee’s kitchen in PGP, we started nấu ăn!

Nguyen lieu – Serves 8

Sago (50g)

Peeled and spitted green beans (200g)

Coconut milk (200ml)

15 tablespoon white coarse sugar

2 packet vanilla sugar

1 tablespoon fine salt

Phrase 1 – Preparing the Sago

We boiled the sago for around 10mins and then switched off the fire and cover the pot, letting the residue heat in the pot cook the sago throughoutly. The sago were ready when all the beads turned transparent. Here is Tâm rinsing off the excess starch.

Phrase 2 – Preparing the Green Beans

We placed 200g of greenbean into a pot, added water and brought the green beans to a boil to soften it up. After the green beans were soften up, the next step was to blend the green bean into a smooth paste. Those who just walked into the kitchen asked us "Is this durian paste?", some even asked us, "Is this mashed potato?" O.O Hahaha! We transfered the paste back to the pot to continue to cook it and here we have Jerlyn, constantly stiring to make sure that the paste do not get burnt. Chăm chỉ quá! We then slowly added a packet of coconut milk (200ml) to the paste, 15 tablespoon of coarse sugar, two packets of vanilla sugar and one tablespoon of salt.

Phrase 3 - Finishing our creation

We found our soup too pastry and dry and went to ask cô Bích for her view. She advised us to add more water immediately. Here we have Xindee adding more water to our soup. Cố lên! Here we also have Kiên trying the taste of the paste to see if it is alright. Finally we transfered the soup into small young coconuts which we have chopped earlier. After filling up ten coconuts, we placed it in the fridge to chill it for a nice cool taste. And tada we have our final creation, decked out with little Vietnamese flags and flowers. Doesn't it look d
elicious? Rât Ngon :D

It was really fun preparing the dish. We were like excited little rats(*opps I mean chefs) scrambling around in the kitchen. There were also many hiccups along the way, our soup got too pastry and also cô Bích found our soup not sweet enough and thus we have to constantly add more and more sugar. We were quite satisfied with our final creation taking into account this is our first time and would like to extend our thanks to the following people for their generous help!

Chả giò chiên

Chào các cô, thầy mình và các bạn,Do you still remember the deliciously sinful fried Vietnamese spring rolls (Chả giò chiên) we have prepared for you? We hope you have enjoyed the food.

our final product

Chúng tôi là Thu, Tuấn,Đào và Nga.Vào thứ bay, chúng tôi nấu chả giò ở nhà cô Bích.

(from L to R: Nga, Tuấn,Đào và Thu)

Let’s start by telling you how we prepared for this cooking assignment, but please don’t be shocked by the process. The following is NOT SUITABLE FOR FAINT-HEARTED.

Prior to Saturday, we actually meet up twice as a group to try preparing the fried Vietnamese spring rolls. The first attempt was supervised by a Vietnamese friend, and she gave us pointers on how to prepare the spring rolls and the dipping sauce (nước chấm). It was a very tiring process, especially when making the dipping sauce as it requires a lot of estimation to get the correct taste. We either add too much lime or too much fish sauce, and the end products would give anybody tasting it kidney failure. I think it was on our fifth attempt before we got the green light from our Vietnamese friend.

cooking under tight supervision from our Vietnamese friend

our maiden attempt

In our second attempt, we became more familiar with the taste and the amount of ingredients to add. We modified the recipe by adding in more eggs and prawns to beef up the taste of the spring roll. On our second try, our product finally bore some slight resemblance to a spring roll!! Luckily, it turned out to be better and we didn’t POISON our friends! They all commented that it was nice (although we’re not too sure if what they said were true)!

On the BIG day, we came with bags and bags of grocery, but guess what?? WE WERE LOST! However, our most ‘đẹp trai’ Tuấn called Cô Bích and FINALLY found the condo with much effort.

This is the recipe of our day:

Chả giò chiên:
Vermicelli (miến)
Carrot (củ cà rốt)
Cucumber (cây dưa chuột)
Egg (trứng)
Prawn (tôm panđan)
Black fungus
Minced meat (thịt lợn thái nhỏ)
Bean sprouts (giá (đậu tương)
Vietnamese rice paper (Bánh tráng)

Nước chấm:
Fish sauce (nước xốt cá)
Green lemon (cá bơn lemon)
Chilli (ớt khô)
Water (nước)
Sugar (đường kính)
Garlic (finely chopped) [cây tỏi (băm vằm)]

Cooking Instructions:

1. Soak the dried vermicelli and black fungus in separate bowls of hot water. Let it stand until soft before draining the vermicelli after ten minutes.

2. Shred the carrot, black fungus and the rice vermicelli and bean sprouts to 1 inch length long

our "handsome" cutting the carrot

3. Devein the prawns and mince it.

4. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and crack some egg in. Mix well with fish sauce and pepper.

5. After mixing, wet the rice paper until it is soft. Take approximately 1 finger’s length of the mixture and put onto the rice paper.

6. Wrap the ingredients. (You should be able to get something like that. If a bunch of guys like can do it, so can you!)

before being sent to the frying wok

7. Heat the oil until it is hot before deep frying the spring roll.

our vietnamese friend who taught us the recipe

8. Once the spring roll starts to turn golden brown, take it out and drain away the oil

9. Make the dip by mixing sugar (1 tbs), fish sauce (1 part), green lemon (1 part), water (4.5 parts), chopped garlic (2 cloves) and chilli (2).

our final final products! hope you like it :)

Although the recipe looks simple to follow, trust us it is not easy.
Cô Quỳnh was our SAVIOUR for the day! She demonstrated to us how to go about wrapping the spring rolls. With our previous practices, our spring rolls turned out to be roughly of equal length. As the wrapping was rather tough, we were the last group who finished and worse of all we had to fight for cooking space to fry our spring rolls. So to all future Vietnamese 1 students cooking the fried Vietnamese spring roll, come extra early!!!

Through this cooking session, not only did we know more about the Vietnamese culture, we also got to better know the other students learning Vietnamese. We feel that cooking the
spring rolls is like learning Vietnamese. Although it’s a lot of blood sweat and tears, overall, the entire process is highly enjoyable. I feel that this cooking project enabled the students learning Vietnamese to know each other better and forge stronger friendships, especially with the handsome foreign exchange students (aka Benjamin and Mathias)

Cám ơn các cô và các bạn rất nhiều!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Miss Hot-Lips Gỏi Gà!

Before the actual day, we spent thứ năm purchasing ingredients for our gỏi gà. This food project was indeed a great challenge for the 4 of us as we không nấu ở nhà. So a try-out session was necessary to prevent us from making a terrible mess on the day itself. Being inexperienced, we took a while to locate and buy our basic ingredients. But we managed and after making our purchases, we finally made our way to ký túc xá Ridge View Residence (where Pei Kun stays) to make our gỏi gà! The condition of the kitchen freaked us out a little but fortunately, it was still bearable and we were able to go on with our “testing session”. Haha. (Pei Kun: Xin lỗi các bạn!) And so we started off our little cooking adventure and followed our recipe as closely as we possibly could. However, we soon met our first speed-bump – the salad dressing! We had no idea on how to marinate the gà, so after much deliberation, we decided to improvise by using the sauces and ingredients that had distinctive tastes. We hoped that these would bring out a “lively” taste and awaken taste buds. And that was what we did! The fish sauce, chili and lime were eventually used in making the dressing to marinate gà. However, due to time limitation, the gà was only marinated for 5 minutes before going down into the hot frying pan. To our surprise, the gà taste turned out well! We invited bạn của Pei Kun who is a Vietnamese to try out the salad we prepared and she said it tasted okay, acceptable and most importantly edible, just that it was not salty enough. We then realized that Vietnamese like strongly flavoured food while Singaporeans like their food a little more plain. Nevertheless, we felt satisfied with our first attempt. We even found the salad rather delicious! But, that could have been due to our hunger as it was nearly 10 and we had yet to eat dinner. Haha. After our successful attempt, we felt excited and confident, and were looking forward to thứ bảy.

On thứ bảy, we gathered at 930a.m. at the Orchard MRT station with our full gear on that was our ingredients and utensils. And off we were to Cô Bích house! However, we were soon met by our second speed-bump – confusing directions to Co Bich’s house! As you have probably guessed, we got lost halfway after missing a turn. But after giving a call to our helpline- Cô Bích’s number- we finally found our way there. Upon reaching, we got our things ready as soon as we could and got started not long after. Thanh was in charge of frying gà, and with Miss Bibi’s help, the gà was cooked successfully.

The preparation process was rather fast since we had tried it out hôm kia. The decoration, on the other hand, was rather tedious as we tried to incorporate everything that we had left into the “not-so-big” bowl: cherry tomatoes, purple lettuce, Japanese cucumber, onions, eggs, chili, orchids and shallots. During the process, our dear Cindy accidentally “shredded” her finger along with the carrots. Chàn quá! Càc bạn ơi phải chú ý while handling the knive và shredder! And after a while, we finally came up with our end product: Miss Hot-Lips Gỏi Gà! The lips were actually added in by Cô Bich. Cô Bich rất sáng tạo!

However, Miss Hot-Lips Gỏi Gà waited quite a while for the other groups to get ready and after some time, her companion, the tub of salad that was used to feed các cô, got a little soggy. Oh no!
(Tips for future gỏi gà groups: Try not to toss in the sauce until everyone is ready. We’d advise you to set aside some veggy and toss it in when your turn is coming, so that your gỏi gà will not be soggy.) Though slighty soggy, our gỏi gà was still safe for comsumption!

The verdict from our teachers: Tasty sauce! The salad was not sliced to coleslaw-size which was probably why our teachers thought they were pretty difficult pick and chew on.
We, on the other hand, liked it BIG and crunchy!

Here came the eating time! Yeah! Chúng em rất đoi từ sang đến trưa. We had a wonderful time cooking and tasting all kinds of Vietnamese food. Thức ăn việt ngon quá! Cám ơn các cô và các bạn rất nhiều! Một ngày chúng ta đi nhà của cô Bich nấu ăn lần nữa nhé!

(look at the wide array of food!)

All in all we found the project to be both culturally engaging and personally satisfying. Culturally, we got to taste and make traditional Vietnamese dishes which to our delight (and to our surprise!), were found to be delicious by our peers and teachers. Besides that, we redeemed ourselves! Being girls who seldom cooked, we proved to ourselves that we have the prowess of chefs in the making, producing good, edible, tasty chicken salad!

(the group members: Cindy, Hai Bee, Pei Kun and Rachel)

3 ngu đầu bếp nấu ăn ở nhà cô Bích

Chào các cô, chào thầy và chào các bạn.

Chúng tôi là Thành, Sen và Lý. Vào thứ bảy từ mười giờ đến hai giờ chiều, chúng tôi nấu chả giò ở nhà cô Bích.

Một ngày trước…………..
Chúng tôi đi Tiong Bahru NTUC mua ingredients. After purchasing the ingredients, we went to Lý’s house to wash and steam the prawns.


chả giò
Rice paper, Egg, Crab meat, Minced pork, Prawn (deshelled), Beansprouts, Black mushroom, Earwood, Dry vermicelli, Carrot (shredded), Cucumber (shredded), Onions (finely chopped), Pepper, Cooking oil

nước chấm:
Lemon juice, Onions (finely chopped), Garlic(finely chopped), Sugar, Fish sauce, Water,Chillies (sliced)

Cooking procedures:

Chả giò
Peel and finely chop the onions and garlics
Shred the crab meat, cucumber and carrots
Deshell the cooked prawns and cut them into small pieces
Soak the vermicelli, earwood, and black mushroom in hot water for 20 minutes, cut them and squeeze out all the water
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add pepper (picture as shown below)
Dip the rice paper in a bowl of water and place it on a plate
Place three spoonful of ingredients in the middle of the paper and rolled tightly
Fill the wok with cooking oil and fry the spring roll until it turns golden brown
Place the springroll on tissue roll to remove excess oil before serving

Nước chấm
Squeeze the lemon
Finely chop the onions, garlics and chillies and add into the freshly squeezed lemon juice
Add fish sauce, sugar and water accordingly into the mixture and adjust to the right taste

Cut the cherry tomatoes into half
Alternate the halved cherry tomato and chilli around the plate
Place the hibiscus flowers at the centre of the plate

This was the end product of our fried spring rolls. Doesn't it look super delicious? However cooking this dish was quite a challenging task because we were only given one hour to finish everything. With our team spirit, everything went fast until the 1st spring roll was throw into the sizzling hot fying pan! The spring roll EXPLODED and oil splashed everywhere. Then we realised our wrapping was too lose and we had to re-wrap every single spring roll. As for the dipping sauce, we mixed according to our own local taste. In the end it turned out to be more like Thai sweet chili sauce than Vietnamese sauce. When các cô took a bite of it, immediately they turned into red fire blowing dragon because it was too spicy. But 3 of us like the sauce a lot. One thing to be happy after a long hard work was, our dish was the first to finish after 1 minute. Obviously preparing 22 spring rolls were not enough and poor us, 3 of us only share 1 spring roll. Chán quá.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Một trưa ở nhà cô Bích

Chào các cô, chào các bạn!

We are Joo Soon (Tiến), Mian Yi (Lương), Wynne (Duyên) and Ying Kang (Huy)..presenting to you..the nem cuốn (Vietnamese cold salad roll)!

The Dish

Ingredients used:
Bean sprouts
Chicken strip
Fish sauce
Garlic chives
Rice wrap
Thick ‘bee hoon’

Cocktail umbrella

Account of our experience:
(1) Đi Chợ
The most embarrassing part of the project was shopping for ingredients. Imagine 3 grown up men pacing up and down the market searching for vegetables without even having the slightest conception as to what they look like. The group was exasperated and had to resort to asking for help from the passers-by.

Having finally conquered all odds and gathered the materials that were needed, the group then headed back home in preparation for the big day (such as steaming the prawns and washing the vegetables, not forgetting psyching ourselves up for the next day!).

(2) Nấu ăn
Just when we thought that the buying of ingredients would be the toughest part of the project, Saturday proved us wrong. The various hiccups that we've encountered are as follow -

i) Sauce: all of us took turns being the sacrificial lamb in tasting the self-made sauce needed, with
Lương being the most noble of us all (as the first person to brave the dangers of the

ii) Rice wraps: being novices, we tore many (poor little) rice wraps before managing to come up
with a somewhat presentable roll. (Sorry cô Bích! =P )

iii) Chilli: Huy spent much effort trying to slice the chilli into 'petals' of equal proportion.

iv) Tomato: While carving the tomato, Duyên proved to be a threat to the safety of her group and
everyone steered clear of her (and Tiến decided to give her a spoon instead).

v) Decorative flower: Seeing the need for some decoration, Duyên (mastermind) took a flower
from an unknown source nearby while Lương (accomplice) kept a

lookout for her. =)

As our dish was an appetiser, we decided to serve it with vermouth (white aperitif). Taking into consideration that some other groups are making desserts, we brought along our reds (port) and authentic Vietnamese coffee as well to share the love with all our friends.

(Special thanks to cô Bích for being our official coffee taster!) =)

Trying to localise the dish, we decided to take the risk and make the sauce a tad bit spicier. However, the teachers unanimously felt that the sauce was too spicy, much to our disappointment.

Perhaps we should have seeked the advice of our adorable little consultant (con gái của cô Qùynh) before making such hasty decisions. Oh well. =(

Ending comments
In conclusion, we would like to thank all the teachers - in particular, cô Bích (for hosting the event) - and friends for the wonderful experience!

The following are our individual thoughts:
Tiến: It has indeed been an interesting experience for me as I seldom have the opportunity to cook
and I must admit I was the main culprit in destroying most of the rice skins!! Destroying them
batches by batches!!
Lương: I really can't cook!! Duyên stop stealing food!! :D
Duyên: Having taken LAF1201 2 years ago, I must say that LAV1201 classes are really much
more interesting and interactive. Through this project, I've had to chance to meet wonderful
friends (read: Tiến, Huy and Lương), and I'm really thankful for that. =)
Huy: Good news: I spent less than 3 hours : ) Bad news: I lost my comb.

Việt Nam Trưa ở nhà Cô Bích!

Chào các cô, chào các bạn,

Hôm nay các bạn thế nào? Chúng tôi rất vui về ngày nấu ăn ở nhà cô Bích vào thứ bảy tuần trước!

Chúng tôi đến nhà Cô Bích lúc mười giờ rưỡi. Chúng tôi nấu từ mười giờ rưỡi đến mười hai giờ đúng.

Đây là Lệ, Hùng, Thắng và Hà!

Chúng tôi are from group hai presenting our famous "Gỏi gà/ nộm gà" !!!!!!!!! *drooling*

Proudly presents:

Now we shall share our secret receipe to this heavenly tasty food!!! Bold flavors star in this Vietnamese chicken salad--acidic lime juice, hot pepper, salty fish sauce. The exotic and refreshing taste of our dish, coupled by outstanding garnishing won many compliments from our classmates and teachers.

Alright. Our ingredients include the following:

- boneless, skinless, TENDER chicken breasts strips
- HIGH QUALITY low-sodium chicken broth
- FRESH scallions
- "CRUNCHY" green cabbage (shredded)
- "BRIGHT ORANGE" carrots( grated)
- EXOTIC lime
- FINE sugar

- SPICY dried red-pepper flakes
- FRAGRANT peanuts
- JUICY Pineapple, Starfruits

With all the best ingredients we had on hand, we are all ready to start the mighty and tough task! MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!

Firstly, we had our Hercules hunk(Hùng) digging out the flesh from the pineapple. Look at the way he digs! Các bạn, can you people do it better than him?

*HUNKY MAN AT WORK, Don't disturb!* Trời ơi!!!!

Next up, we have our better player Hà, who has previously won the "best design award" in Olympics 2008 in Trung Quốc, helping us to grate the carrot and giving them a new look! Guess what? You are right! She managed to incorporate the most important Việt Nam logo on our carrot! The proud product looks like :

Finally, the legendary people are going to start work! They are Lệ and Thắng! They were supposed to prepare MAIN ELEMENT of the Chicken Salad: CABBAGE! Lệ is in charge of slicing the cabbage while Thắng mix the sauce. Sorry, forget to take picture of the process but we definitely put up their ảnh here!

Do they look like Top-notch chefs to you??? (audience please nod your heads!)

The most tiring part of the preparation of Gỏi gà/ nộm gà is nothing besides the mixing of various shredded chicken, cabbage and carrots together with the sauce. Mixing is not something easy. It is an art. And guess who did the job?

Nấu ăn or đi ngủ??? Xin lỗi, Thắng rất mệt vì đi chơi nhiều đêm qua.

Actually he is out to steal the limelight, luckily we have a paparazzi working, got ảnh as evidence! See! Got other people working as well.

After tonnes of hard work, the product is finally out!

Last but not least, it's time for photo taking!

The following people are spies from other groups in search for GOOD đồ ăn like ours!

Hope all of you have enjoyed reading!

Cám ơn các cô và các bạn rất nhiều!

Chúc các cô và các bạn cuối tuần vui vẻ!