Monday, February 28, 2011

Absolutely the best Gỏi Gà in our heart

Chào các bạn!!

Chúng mình là sinh viên lớp tiếng Việt một. Tên tiếng Việt của chúng mình là Bích Thủy, Bình Yên, Bình Lộp và Bình Trọng. We have Gỏi Gà (Chicken Salad) as our cooking project.

The recipe we used as below: 

1/2 kg cooked shredded chicken (or use the chicken meat from making the congee)
1/4 cabbage, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced matchsticks
1/2 onion (red or brown)
1 cup herbs (Vietnamese mint, mint and coriander)
3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fried shallots

1/2 lemon juice
4 tablespoon of white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1 cup fish sauce dipping sauce

Hmmm,yummay! :D
In a small bowl, combine, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and sugar. Stir well until sugar and salt dissolves.
In a large bowl, add cabbage, carrot, onion, herbs, chicken and vinegar mixture. Gently toss to well combined.
Turn salad to a serving platter and sprinkle roasted peanuts, fried shallots and serve with fish sauce.
Let this single photo to express how we had enjoyed the BIG day!

And lastly, let's hear some of the thoughts from our fellow group member~

"The only Vietnamse cuisine I could think of was phở bò (beef noodle) before this cooking project. I totally had no idea how the Vietnamese chicken salad tasted like, so did my group members. Therefore, preparing the source was the most challenging part in making the dish.
Decorating the salad was enjoyable. With the help of Cô Bích, I learnt to decorate my dishes the very first time in my life. Impressively, it was so simple and only needed a little effort to make the whole dish look fabulous! From this, I saw the beauty of Vietnamese cuisine.
Lastly, Cảm ơn các Cô và sinh viên của lớp tiếng Việt for the nice food and the laughter in this project!"
-Xiao V (Bích Thủy)

"The cooking project is a wonderful and pleasant experience with great food and companions. I must admit it was not a “chicken feet” (easy task) in preparing our Vietnamese chicken salad as the other groups are very competitive and have”die die must win” attitude.
Through our sweats and tears and do not want to lose attitude, we (consist of 3 dep trai and 1 dep gai) did our best too and finally come up with the salad though the salad did not come out too well with Co Bich but thankfully we are not the worst group.
For ending, I would like to say there was one particular group who actually quite like our salad you know and I like the tomato and prawn soup." 
By Heryanto Tan a.k.a Binh Yen (PEACE)

"Me and my 3 others of my group mate decided to sign up for Gi Gà as our cooking project as it seems like the easiest of them all to prepare and how wrong were we. Having no clue how the dish looks like we were at a total loss when comes to salad dressing preparation. Should there be more fish sauce or more lime juice it was a hard decision. I personally love my dish to be more on the sour side and have made our sauce really sour by extracting juices from two big lemons. To our horror it was a terrible mistake on our part, Co Bich’s face cringed at the first taste of our dish before exclaiming, “Uncle! Auntie! Sooo Souuuuurr!” We found out later that the secret to a Vietnamese belly is to use large amount of the legendary Vietnamese Fish Sauce in every dish. 
Overall, it was a great and fun experience to have a such an activity at a teacher’s place where we students got to know our module lecturer and each other better through an interactive, engaging project such as this. GREAT FUN!!"
-Cin Heng (Bình Lộp)

"It was an once of a "Uni-lifetime" experience! I have never imagined all the fun and laughters in a CLS module. From the point where we prepare our ingredients to giving final touches of our 'EPIC Gi Gà' , those wonderful times are the ones we could never find in classrooms. :)  
We watched other groups preparing their own masterpieces, we learnt new food-carving techniques from Co Bich, and, we even made our own decorations and dressing for our dish.
It has been real fun, to work with awesome group members, to learn from great teachers, and to be a part of the Viet class. VIET 1 rocks!!! :D"
-WaiKwan (Bình Trọng)


đẹp Gỏi cuốn

Chào các cô, thầy va các bạn!

Chúng em là năm sinh viện mới; Bích Xuân, Bích hồng, Bích Lé, Bính Kien and Tee wei

Vào sáng thứ bảy trước, chúng em làm nấu ăn ở nhà thầy Minh.
Chúng em đi ra NTUC mua all the ingredients except for the mint leaves which Tee Wei got it from his neighbour.
When I reach nhà thầy Minh, cô Bích đang dạy how to make decorations from carrots, cucumbers, green pepper and tomatoes. Cô rất sáng tạo và vui tính.

Making baskets from cucumbers

All of us watched attentively
The decorations vary from sailing ships to baskets and flowers. It is not as easy as it looks.(o_O)

After the food decoration class, chúng em continued with our project; gỏi cuốn

The ingredients:
  • One packet of Rice vermicelli (Mihun)
  • Vietnamese Rice paper(Big size)

  • About 20 shrimps
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Lettuce, Carrots, Cucumber
  • Pork Belly (or chicken)
  • Mint leaves
  • Thai basil leaves (* be careful not to mix up with the Italian basil leaves)
  • Chinese chives

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Red Chillies

Steps into making gỏi cuốn:
1. Soak the rice vermicelli for about 20 minutes before putting in it boiling water for about 5 minutes. Avoid boiling it for too long until it becomes too soft.
2. Cook the shrimps in boiling water together with the shell until the shrimp turns reddish. Peel the shrimps and cut them into halves sideways.
3. The lettuce, cucumber and carrots are all thinly sliced. (*Note that all the vegetables are eaten raw.)
4. Cook the pork belly and cut into thin slices.
1. Dip a sheet of rice paper into water for about 8 seconds (* Do not dip it too long or it’ll become to soft for wrapping)
2. Put the vegetables, meat and the prawns to the rough side of the rice paper and wrap it tight. Make sure it is compact and not loose. (*Put more herbs)
3. Serve with fish sauce or hoisin sauce as a dip.

Our final product! Rất đẹp phải không?

After chúng em finish making hai mươi gỏi cuốn, we waited anxiously for các cô

Finally, it is time for the tasting session.

Cô bich tasted each and every one of the dishes including those from Việt 2 and gave her feedback. It seems like most of the gỏi cuốn this year has more prawns than herbs. :P (*Hint : Put more mint and basil leaves)

Once cô bích finish tasting, it is turn for us to grab the bowls and fill our grumbling stomachs. Yuummm…

Group reflection:
This cooking project is a rare kind of experience for all of us. We were having a lot fun! Through shopping for the ingredients and cooking together, we know more about our project mates. During the preparation process at thầy minh’s house, we get to learn skills outside the classroom. Besides, we also interacts with other students from different classes. Everyone was trying to make the best of their respective foods. The decoration of the food does play an important role in attracting more people to eat it. So,we can see a variety of decorations from the different groups especially after the demonstration from cô bích. Then the tasting process helps us to compare the foods prepared and know where and how to make it better next time. The foods prepared by the teachers were sumptuous! We couldn’t help but eating more. We were glad that we were part of this enjoyable session and thankful to all the teachers taught us and friends who went and make it so lively.

Cám ơn cac cô for having this cooking project and give us a chance to try those nice Vietnamese foods. Chúng em rất thích lớp nău an!  It was an unforgettable experience.

Thế thì tot quá!

Gỏi Cuồn (Vietnamese spring rolls)

Chào các bạn!

Nhóm của chúng em có bốn người. Chúng em tên là: Bình Hòang, Binh Tai, Bích Ngọc và Bích Ánh. Chúng em đi thầy Minh's nhà vào sáng thứ bảy cho cooking project. Chúng em did gỏi cuốn cho cooking project.
This is the recipe we used:


Medium shrimps (sliced into halves)
Pork belly (cut into strips)
Vermicelli rice noodles
Cucumber, carrot (cut into thin strips)
Bean sprouts
Basil leaves
Vietnamese rice paper
Fish sauce

Steps to making Gỏi Cuốn:
1. Dip the rice paper into the warm water to soften it.
2. Place the rice paper flat on the round rack Cô Bích brought for us.
3. Top each piece with lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, rice noodles, pork belly, basil leaves and shrimps.
4. Roll up firmly.
5. Serve with fish sauce as a dip.
Note: Do not put too much ingredients. The rice paper tears very easily!

Bình Hòang buying ingredients
Preparing for cooking project(:
When we reached thay Minh's house at 10plus, it was so crowded! All of them were already preparing their dishes. We finally managed to find a small but cozy area and were all ready to start making our gỏi cuồn!

slicing shrimps into halves

veggies and MINT LEAVES

Busy preparing..

Bích Ngọc và Bình Hòang tried making the gỏi cuồn before the actual day of cooking. After a few tries, it began to take shape, no tearing, no sticking, beautiful! "Hmm but why cannot see the prawns?" Then they tried to be clever by putting the prawns faced down first. But somehow it still did not look like what they had seen in the pictures. WHY?! Their question was finally answered when Cô Bích taught us the correct way to roll the gỏi cuồn. Cô Bích also taught us how to crave roses, baskets and boats using tomatoes and cucumbers!

Cô Bích's gỏi cuồn
The beautiful rose Cô Bích made!

Busy decorating..
Our group's gỏi cuồn!
After a few hours of preparation, it's time for the tasting/judging session!  

When preparing the spring rolls, our main aim is to satisfy Cô Bích's taste buds because she is the judge!

"Cô Bích doesn't like hard carrots!" So we cut the carrots finer.
"Cô Bích prefers pork belly to chicken!" So we added in pork belly to our recipe.
Unfortunately, we missed out an important factor! Cô Bích likes MINT LEAVES!!! And there we are, putting only 2 or 3 small pieces of mint leaves.. 

Anyway, Cô Bích did say that our gỏi cuồn are nice, though it's not the best. We should have put more mint leaves and used her own made sauce! We'll always remember her expression when she ate the first mouth of gỏi cuồn dipped into our totally authentic made-in-vietnam fish sauce!
Group photo with Cô Bích and Cô Lê
Personal Reflections:

"I enjoyed the whole afternoon preparing and tasting such wonderful Vietnamese delicacies. Having been to Vietnam twice, I have never had the chance to try out so many variety of Vietnamese cuisine. Thankfully through this Vietnamese cooking project I could taste many of them just by being HERE, in Singapore!
This project together with many other activities are what that make Vietnamese Language in NUS so different, so vibrant and so FUN!!" - Bình Hòang

"This is the first ever cooking project that I encountered in my study life,and I have to admit it was really fun and enriching! I believe all of us had fun trying to wrap the goi cuon and I myself personally learned a lot from this project (especially the carving skills which I still fail to master up to now >.<). In addition to that, I am also honoured to have the chance to see the different kinds of tasty Vietnamese food which I never did before. However I have to admit that the banana dessert is the most AWESOME of all! Thanks to everyone involved and hope to have such project again soon! An advice for future students making Goi Cuon: Put in more Vietnamese herbs and leaves! You will know why very soon. xD" - Bình Tai

"Cooking project--one of the reasons I am taking Vietnamese 1! Where else in NUS’ modules do we ever get to go to our teacher’s house and cook? As expected, it was really a fun and different experience, from the shopping to preparing, to the actual rolls making, and of cause the feasting part! Before the project, i always thought making spring rolls is an easy bit of job (just anyhow roll it like “popiah” lah), who knows, my first goi cuon looked like “wan tan” instead. Well at least now my rolls looks like those sold outside and I can make for my parents already! :) One thing I still don’t get, HOW TO PEEL THE TOMATOES AND MAKE IT INTO A ROSE?! It breaks every time halfway through! But at least, I learnt how to make baskets and boats and fans, and flowers. Truly, a very different memory in my mugging school life." - Bích Ngọc

"In my three years of uni life, this is definitely the most awesome project I have done! No reports. No presentation. I have been looking forward to this day when I knew there's cooking project during the introductory lecture. Cooking project is really fun! We get to cook, decorate our dishes, taste a variety of Vietnamese cuisine and learn their culture through food! I am sooo glad that I took viet1(: It is really an unforgettable experience and I am sure all of us enjoyed it as much as I do!" - Bích Ánh

Gỏi bưởi tôm (Vietnamese prawn salad) group 01

Chào các cô, chào các bạn!!!

Chúng em là nhóm một của Gỏi bưởi tôm. Nhóm của chúng em gồm có năm người. (We are goup 1 of Gỏi bưởi tôm. Our group consist of 5 people.)

The members of our group are Tan Yan Ling, Loh Peiye, Loh Jiahui Kenneth and Loh Kah Yee Kelvin and Cai Qingwei Aaron(From left to right).
Before we begin to tell of our adventures during this cooking project, we would first like to thank our fellow teachers for their assistance and help in this project. We would like to thank Thay Minh for his generosity in opening his place up for us to conduct our project. We would like to thank Cô Bích for providing us advice on how to make the dish and the decorations and last but definitely not least, we would like to thank Cô Lê and Cô Quỳnh for organising and being there to help answer some queries.

1. 1 pomelo

2. 500g (17 oz) fresh medium prawns

3. 3 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped

4. Carrot, finely shredded

5. Cilantro leaves

6. Leaves of 8-10 sprigs Vietnamese mint, finely sliced (must be fresh!)

7. ½ cup (125g) fried crispy onion flakes

8. ½ cup (125g) unsalted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

9. 1 packet shrimp crackers


1. 2 tablespoons fish sauce diluted with 2 tablespoons water

2. 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste

3. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste

4. 2 small cloves garlic, chopped

5. 1-2 fresh chili padi, chopped
Preparation of dressing

1. Mix fish sauce, water, sugar and lime in the ratio of 4:4:1:1.

2. Add cloves garlic and chili padi and taste if the flavor is good.


1. Peel the pomelo. Pull the membrane off the segments as cleanly and completely as possible. Discard the seeds, pull the flesh apart into small flakes and set it aside.

2. Boil a pot of water and cook the shrimp until they turn pink. Drain and set aside to cool. Peel and devein the prawns, then halve lengthwise.

3. To make the dressing, mash the garlic and chili together to a paste. Add the diluted fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and mix well. Slowly add in the garlic-chili paste bit by bit to the mixture until the desired spiciness.

4. Combine the pomelo, prawns, shallots and carrot shreds. Toss well with dressing to taste, adding extra sugar if you wish. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with cilantro and fresh mint leaves, fried crispy onion flakes and chopped peanuts. Surround the bowl with shrimp crackers and serve.

Chapter 1: Battle plan

We had several meetings prior to the project day to discuss about the necessary preparations and things to bring. Firstly, we had to properly allocate the duties and workload, so that no one is over burdened with the preparations. Next, we had to decide how we would want to implement our decorations. It was then when Yan Ling decided to use a pomelo skin as a bowl and Kelvin suggested using chillies to make a flower like decoration. BEST IDEA EVER!!! Kenneth brought the sushi mat to act as the base for the dish and a small Vietnamese flag to score those extra points. Genius!!!

After making the necessary decisions and allocation of work, we set our plans into motion.
Chapter 2: It’s time to cook food!

We arrived at Thay Minh’s house at 10 in the morning. Yan Ling and Aaron brought along the carved pomelo bowls. We laid down our belongings, arranged the newspapers, setup our arsenal and began our work. We started off with the peeling of the prawns under the supervision of Master chef Kelvin. Peiye and Kelvin were assigned to cut the prawns. We place the prawns in the fridge after that to keep in fresh and proceeded to making the flower like ornaments with the chilli.

Cô Bích provided a crash course on designing ornaments using cucumbers, tomatoes and capsicum.
After that, we proceeded to making the dressing, which was done by Kenneth under the guidance of grandmaster chef, Cô Bích. We went through many tastings (adding more garlic and chilli) to finally obtain the PERFECT TASTE of dressing.

After the dressing is complete, all is left is to mix the ingredients all together with the dressing. It was this moment that we all started to see our masterpiece come together. Our joy was not alone, it was accompanied by a hunger to immediately devour our project, but we had to control our urges to consume our food before the presentation. The smell of the fried shallots was heavenly; it called out to the depth our souls, pleading us to take a bite. How can anyone resist such sinful culinary temptation?

We then placed the salad into our marvellously decorated bowl and our dish is ready to be served. We decorated our bowl with the ornaments we prepared and cleared up the area.

After the final decoration, I suddenly felt reluctant to eat our project. Look at it; it’s a work of art, a master piece. Eating it would be a crime against the arts, a declaration of war on beautiful looking food. But well, looks like our project has to resign to its eventual fate of being devoured by everyone.

Chapter 3: The final hour is upon us!!!

We brought our work downstairs to the function room where it was going to be judged.

Look at that picture above. This is the look of satisfaction. The look that says, “ah...finally... This is probably the most awesome project around”.
We placed our dish on the table and waited for the tasting session to commence. As you can see in the picture, all the groups have beautiful with many creative designs and ornaments. Some had boats, others had baskets. It really goes to show the effort and love that went in to make these dishes.

Finally, the judging started, with grandmaster chef, Cô Bích tasting the dishes one by one. At last, it’s our group’s turn, as grandmaster chef, Cô Bích tasted our dish, she said, “nice, but a little spicy”. Then we finally let out a sigh of relief. After the tasting session, we got to eat everyone's project for lunch. It tasted wonderful.

Epilogue: The aftermath

We really enjoyed this experience in LAV1201. It’s something you might not get to experience in NUS.

Because, if you really think about it...
How often are there projects that involve cooking?
How often are there projects that do not involve stress and is actually fun?

It was an enriching morning and we all enjoyed ourselves through this experience. It exposed us to Vietnamese culture and cuisine which many of us would otherwise be unfamiliar of.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vietnamese Spring Rolls - Gỏi Cuốn

Chào các cô! Chào các bạn!

Chúng em là tiếng Việt một sinh viên. 
Nhóm của chúng em có năm người:Bích-Cúc, Bích-Liên, Bích-Diễm, Bich-Ha và Roy.
Vào tháng hai hôm mười chín  /  vào thứ bảy tuần trường, chúng em ₫i Thầy Minh nhà. Thầy Minh sống ở Bukit Panjang Mayspring. Chúng em mua ingredients vào thứ sáu tuần trường:

•    Rice vermicelli (bún)
•    Vietnamese rice paper (bánh tráng) - Provided by Cô Bích.
•    Lettuce, cucumber and carrot (all thinly sliced in strips)
•    Mint leaves
•    Thai basil leaves
•    Bean sprouts
•    Chinese chives
•    Pork belly (in strips)
•    Tiger shrimps (cooked with shells on, then peeled and sliced into halves)

•    Fish sauce (nước mắm) - Provided by Cô Bích.

We prepared the ingredients at home:

1. Wash all the vegetables.
2. Soak lettuce and bean sprouts in water.
3. Boil the rice vermicelli until its cooked and springy.
4. Steam the tiger shrimps for approximately 5 minutes, peel off the shells. Slice it into halves.

5. Slice the cucumbers.
6. Boil the pork belly until its cooked. (Careful that the pork belly will shrink by a lot!)
7. Use the water for boiling pork belly to boil the bean sprouts so that they will be smooth in texture.

*Do not do anything to the carrot. Carrot is used for decoration.

Co Bich
dạy chúng em how to wrap gỏi cuốn:

1. Dip the rice paper into a plate of water for a very short while.
2. Place the wet rice paper on a round plate provided by Cô Bích.
3. Place the lettuce, rice vermicelli, cucumbers and pork belly onto the wet rice paper. Then place the prawns in another part of the wet rice paper. Be sure to let the orange side of the prawn face down.
4. Wrap the sides of the rice paper first, then roll it. Make sure the gỏi cuốn is wrapped tightly so that it is easier to eat.
5. TADA! You're done!

Co Bich cũng
dạy chúng em how to make decorations using tomatoes, chilli, cucumber và  carrot. They trông rất xinh xắn.
We wanted to have a thematic decoration but had difficulty in doing so. So we decided to carve out baskets using tomatoes, boats using cucumbers to create the beautiful nature of Vietnamese culture.

Personal reflection:


It was a very enriching experience indeed! I've never seen or eaten vietnamese food before, so I was quite worried for this project initially. However, my worry faded away with the fun and joy while learning with my team! My team tried making the spring roll before the actual day to have a hands-on experience. The spring rolls didn't turn out well but I enjoyed the company. On the actual day, Bích-Liên and I did the wrapping of gỏi cuốn while the rest of the team did the decorations. During the judging, I noted the points Cô Bích said about the ingredients and learn about the food culture of vietnamese. Em là vui!!!!

The cooking project was a very interesting and good experience for myself. Through the preparation for the vietnamese dish, i had a deeper understanding of the traditional and cultural practices of the vietnamese. It also developed my interest in the vietnamese culture. Although we encountered some difficulties in the preparation of the dish, i enjoyed myself thoroughly in this cooking project, from the preparation of the ingredients, to the actual cooking and wrapping of the
gỏi cuốn
and finally to the decoration of the dish.

Bích Diễm
I have always loved Vietnamese food ever since I went to Việt Nam. This cooking project was a good opportunity for me to learn more about the different types of food that Vietnamese people eat and also to learn how to prepare Vietnamese food. 
I got to know the other Việt sinh viên and most importantly I had fun that day! I enjoyed the Viêt desserts the most!


Although I have never experienced Vietnamese culture or food before (except for the rare Vietnamese spring roll from the food courts in Singapore), I truly enjoyed the time spent together at Thay-Minh's house. It was an eye-opener rolling the rolls for the first time and learning the fruit decorations from Co-Bich! It was nice seeing the close causal friendships that were forged from this module in action, especially that of Viet-hai/ba/thu. And of course, the banana sago dessert was a highlight too!

US! (:

Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls)

Chào các em! Bích Hường, Bích Phượng, Bích Quỳnh, Bích Vân và Bình Đại from Gỏi cuốn 3 here! =) Our group made Gỏi cuốn, which means Vietnamese Spring Rolls for the tiếng Việt một cooking project. This was the recipe we used:

Recipe: Gỏi cuốn (Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls)

>25 rice paper wrappers, large, round
1 packet small vietnamese bee hoon
1 cup bean sprouts, raw
1 cup cucumber, cut into thin strips
25 cooked shrimps, cut in half length wise
1/4 cup basil leaves/mint leaves
12 lettuce leaves (locally produced kind)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce/fish sauce (Lee Kum Kee sauce)

Chives, Tomatoes, Chillies, Cucumbers, Capsicums

1. Cook the rice vermicelli as directed in pack. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain well. Set aside.
2. Fully dip the rice paper in a large bowl of water and remove immediately (one rice paper at a time).
3. Place one rice paper on a flat area. On the bottom part of the rice paper, stack your desired amount of lettuce, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and 2 half shrimps.
4. Fold the bottom of the rice paper over the vegetables. Tuck in the sides and continue to roll as tightly as possible. (As shown in picture below)
5. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Directions for the Sauce:
1. Mix the hoisin sauce with water until desired consistency has been attained. Heat the mixture for a few seconds in the microwave if possible.

Practice Session!
On Thursday, 17th Feb 2010, we went to Vivian’s (Bích Hường) house for our practice session. Ingredients were first bought at the Sheng Shiong near West Coast Plaza. Unfortunately, not all ingredients were available at Sheng Shiong that day (think a lot people also making spring rolls? (Haha) so we outsourced to Cold storage and NTUC as well. =)

Each of us focused on different tasks so as to be more effective - Vivian cooked the bee hoon, Hui Min (Bích Quỳnh) cut the cucumbers while Dexter (Bình Đại) and Hoi Yee (Bích Vân) deveined the prawns before passing it on to Vivian for boiling. We had loads of fun as the recipe provided clear and simple instructions. We also experimented with other flavors such as with Fried Chicken, Bak Kwa (bbq pork) and mango! +D *They all tasted good by the way! The only drawback was that the rice papers were ABIT hard to manage as they grew sticky REALLY REALLY quickly! =S (think it's because they were soaked for too long)

But practice makes perfect and we finally (sort of) managed to get the hang of dipping the rice wraps swiftly and laying it on a flat surface for wrapping at the end. Also, having researched about difficulties faced if there’s too much fillings in the wrap, we made sure not to overload the fillings. The first few spring rolls looked rather out of shape, but we all mastered the art of wrapping them by the end of the day and recieved good reviews from our taste testers! (Vivian's parents) =D


It was a little chaotic for us at the begining as we didn’t know what to start with nor. However, we managed to get ourselves organized and divided the tasks among ourselves; namely with Hoi Yee, Dexter and Hui Min designing and decorating the plate while Vivian and Lishan wrapped the spring rolls. At times, we switched our roles so that everyone gets to try every single task on hand. =)
Decorating was the most difficult! (especially the tomato rose =S) We had to slowly cut off the skin of the tomato, ensuring that it was in one single piece. Several attempts were made, and luckily it was very successful in the end. (We learnt well from Cô Bích!) =)

Wrapping of the spring rolls was easier, however we had to ensure the springrolls were not overstuffed and all were wrapped tightly to give a better shape. Despite all the difficulties and problems we faced throughout the process, we managed to succeed and it was an accomplishment for all!

Finally, at judging, our hard work paid off! =D Cô Bích declared our spring rolls as the most delicious! She liked how our spring rolls had alot of mint leaves inside. =) *hinthint this is the trick! Put LOTS of mint leaves! =) The only thing is that we will have to use our own sauce in the future haha. (we used borrowed the sauce Cô Bích made =P) haha Regardless of that, Cô Bích's compliments made our spring rolls 'sell' like hotcakes! All were snatched up quickly! Yay! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR KIND SUPPORT! =D *we are seriously happy and thankful for this and we hope we have not disappointed anyone =)

Our Group Reflections:
We enjoyed the cooking project greatly as it was not only a time for us to learn about Vietnamese food and to prepare it, but also a time that let us learn to focus on details of things, as well as a time for us to bond together.

Before this cooking project, we thought that the whole process from grocery shopping to cooking was an easy task (it also shows that we seldom get into the kitchen too). However, when we started to prepare for this project, we realised that there were many details to consider before making a spring roll- the type of a particular ingredient to bring out the best taste and appearance of the food, and the techniques to prepare it.

From the grocery shopping, we faced some difficulties in deciding the right ingredient to buy, for instance, just the prawns, we had to consider the size, price and the texture of it after it was cooked. If we were to get frozen prawns, the texture of the prawns would not be tardy but flaccid, and its colour would not be vivid enough for the overall appearance of the spring roll. We had to do the same thought processes when buying all other necessary ingredients.

The cooking session with Cô Bích allowed us to learn the proper ways of making a spring roll and the ways to carve vegetables to decorate our food. When Cô Bích showed us the different knives for cutting and carving purposes to make the carvings look good, we realised once again that it was back to the smallest details of things, pieced together to make the food look good. =)

Aside from the lesson learnt on details, the cooking session was also a time for us, students from the different tutorial classes to interact and know one another. As usually we students rush off for other lessons after our tutorials, we seldom get the chance to stay back and mingle around to know each other. Through this project, we got to better understand each of our team mates, and even know more about other students whom we rarely get the chance to meet.

The cooking project was a time of great fun and joy, and where we learn to prepare and get the experience of tasting various kinds of Vietnamese food. We truly appreciate and enjoy this interesting project that enabled us to learn something beyond the classroom, and to bond with one another.

Bích Hường, Bích Phượng, Bích Quỳnh, Bích Vân và Bình Đại from Gỏi cuốn 3 signing off~

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gỏi Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)

Chào các cô! Chào các bạn!
Chúng em -Bích Nga, Bích Tiên và Bình Tiến là sinh viên mối. For the tiếng Việt một cooking project, we have chosen the chicken salad as our dish. The recipe is shown below:

Preparation Time: 60 minutes
Cooking Time10 minutes

Chicken Salad
            200g chicken breast fillets
½ cup prawns
            1 cup bean sprouts
            1 cup Vietnamese mint leaves
            1 cup Asian basil leaves
            4 cups Chinese cabbages, finely shredded
            1 cup carrot, peeled and finely julienned
Salad Dressing
            60 ml lime juice
            80 ml fish sauce
            5 tablespoon caster sugar
            2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
            3 red Asian shallots, finely sliced
                        2 red chilli, finely chopped
            White or black pepper
Chicken Salad
·         Boil chicken breast fillets in water until they are cooked.
·         Drain the chicken and leave it to cool.
·         Meanwhile, boil the prawn in water. Remove the prawns from heat when they curl and turn red.
·         De-shell the prawn when it is cool.
·         Use forks to shred the chicken breast fillets into floss.
·         Add all the salad dressing ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
·         Place all ingredients into the same mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

Thai lime is preferred as it gives a sweet scent to the dish and do add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth!

We have purchased all the ingredients two days before the project, so that we would have more time to choose the better ingredients. Also we have cut all the ingredients such as cucumber, onion, carrot and cabbage beforehand and loaded them into several plastic containers. Cutting the ingredients was not easy, as we cut them into very thin and small slices for better texture. Photos are missing here as we were all very very sleeping at that time. FYI we woke up at 6.30am in the morning to prepare them! 

The cooking project was held at Thầy Minh's house, which is at Bukit Panjang. The venue is awesome as we didn't spend a lot of much finding the place. Fortunately we were the first group to reach there and got to use their dining table! 

The left process for us was just to mix all the ingredients together with lime juice, sugar and a special Vietnamese sauce: fish sauce. However we all agreed that this is the most crucial part, balancing the sour and sweet taste is most challenging part! Luckily we had a sensitive tongue: Bích Nga to do the job. 

Mixing chicken salad
1 hour later, we have reached the fun part of the day. Cô Bích taught us how to decorate the food with some vegetables. The decorations she made were the tomato rose, cucumber basket, boat and a lot more. Our final product was as below, the three faces at upper right corner represented us.  

Chicken salad with decorations
It came to the last part of the day, grading and eating the foods. Cô Bích was our judge and she graded the food very carefully.
She has a sensitive tongue
We were luckily enough to be the best chicken salad of the day. Thanks to Bích Nga. The foods there, chicken salad, pomelo rice, spring roll, banana sago and the others  were of course super awesome. 

At the end of the day, we took a group photo to call it a day.
Our team effort
Here are some personal reflections:
Having been spent three years of undergraduate life in NUS, this is my first ever participation in a cooking project organized under a module. What an unforgettable experience! It was so much fun and I believe everyone had enjoyed the cooking project as much as I did.
Speaking of Vietnamese cuisine, I had the chance to savour authentic Vietnamese dishes in Ho Chi Minh City when I last visited the bustling city with my family during December last year. After spending four days there, my impression of Vietnamese cuisine is none other than it is suitable for people with sweet tooth and it always comes with a lot of vegetables, especially mint, bean sprouts and basils, which I did not really get used to. However, the cooking project has totally changed my perspective of Vietnamese food. I especially love the banana dessert, chicken stew (Sharon told me Co Bich made nicer chicken stew) and fish.
Not only had I enjoyed the food prepared by teachers and us, the LAV1201 juniors and seniors, I also find the cooking project has successfully forged a closed bond between the students and teachers. This is especially true when I see everyone was having fun in the process of preparing the food. The biggest takeaways I have from the cooking project are the creativity in turning tomatoes and cucumbers into flowers, baskets, boats, etc., new friends, a heart overloaded with fun and last but not least, a bloated stomach with all the finger-licking food and desserts!
Sheau Shiuh aka Bích Nga

We chose to prepare Gỏi Gà . At first, I thought that the process was easy, thinking that “how hard could it be to prepare a chicken salad?” Well, after trying, I would say that the most difficult step is making the sauce. My group mates and I had never eaten Vietnamese chicken salad before. We have no idea how the sauce was supposed to taste like and we just follow the recipe printed from website. After first few tries, the sauce was very sour and later we decided to follow our taste buds instead of the recipe. We added sugar and adjusted the taste. Yup, our taste buds were trustworthy, we managed to create the best Gỏi Gà amongst other groups (according to cô Bích J). Even though it did not taste like authentic Vietnamese chicken salad, I think it tasted quite good.

My family and I went to Hà Nội before and we did not have good impression on Vietnamese food because most of them taste pretty weird to us. However, on cooking project day, there were banana dessert, chè chuối prepared by cô Lê and chicken stew, gà kho prepared by Vietnamese 2 students which I love! I will definitely learn to cook it for my family and impress them.

Wan Ting a.k.a Bích Tiên

I had no idea of how Vietnamese cuisine tastes like before this cooking project. After all I found it quite unsuitable for me, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating the Vietnamese cuisine. The Vietnamese put a lot of effort to decorate their dishes, which is one of the things I have learnt today. The cooking project has enhanced the content of this module, piqued the students' interest to discover more about Vietnam. Last but not least, thank you all the teachers for hosting this wonderful event! Cảm ơn các Cô!

Khai Chern a.k.a Bình Tiến