My journey of cooking Asian food in Ireland.

This delicious stir-fried egg noodle made from SuperValu ingredients.

I moved to Ireland 9 years ago and started to crave Asian food. It's not only the food but also the flavour of home, of memory and of course good food. My taste buds kept screaming every day. I was busy with my 3 kids, they were under 5 and I didn't have much time to go for complicated recipes and sourcing ingredients as I learned from living in Vietnam and Malaysia. I could only make a trip to Dunnes, Tesco or SuperValu for family shopping and I found some basic ingredients they have there: rice, noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce. The challenge is vegetables, not many choices but basic one like carrots, cauliflowers, broccoli, baby sweetcorn, cabbage. Good things they have are fresh herbs: lemongrass, chili, lime, coriander, mint, basil, ginger which are the key ingredients for an Asian meals. I start to try my new way of cooking using those basic ingredients to keep the authentic flavour of Vietnamese, Thai or any Asian dishes I had before. It took time to change, improvise the recipes and at the end I no longer need to search for Asian ingredients in Asian shops even I still visit them sometimes for my strong cravings.

Ireland has changed a lot since I moved here, it's getting more diverse starting with food. Young Irish people start to travel a lot and come home with the new palate of the food where they have been to. The food business is starting to invest in the Asian food market to fill in that need. You can see some Irish companies start their new ventures for Asian food like Spice of life, Thai Gold, Mr Bell. You now can make that authentic Thai curry dish to sushi, Vietnamese spring rolls, Singapore noodles from most supermarkets in Ireland. Lots of exotic tropical fruits have started to arrive and people eager to try. I always check out the fruits section and they never fail to surprise me. There are fresh young coconuts, dragon fruits, granadilla, lychee, mangosteen, star fruits, etc.

Cooking Asian food has never been better.

Thai Gold brand founded in Wexford in 2005 by James Brady, Normal Ruddock and his wife Penn. This is my favourite brand so far. 
Spice of life is a 100% Irish owned company from West Cork

Blue dragon brand from England is the most popular. I find their products very decent.

Mr Bell in English Market, food provider specialize in Thai and Oriental Food, Herbs and Spices.

Steamed/Boiled rice.

Rice is the main crop in South East Asia. Rice is so important to our life that in Vietnam we say rice to refer a meal. We say' Have you had rice yet?', it means have you had your meal yet. Asking someone to stay with you for a meal we say ' Please stay for some rice with us'.
The most important thing you will learn in Asian cooking is cooking the perfect steamed rice. That perfect fluffy rice will make you enjoy the meal no matter what comes with it otherwise it ruin all of your hard work on the dishes you spend effort to prepare. I remember growing up in Vietnam I learnt this first lesson from my mom around 12 or even earlier if your family is poor and you have to help your parents at early age, sometimes as early as 9. The first pot never turned out right, it could be the measurement, the heat as you use wood to cook back then and the rice would come out mushy, burnt, undercooked. You will never forget that first lesson because of the reaction and you already knew it at first bite yourself. Once you make it right cooking rice cannot be any easier.
Here are the rules:
_Get the right measurement of rice and water.
_Use the right heat at each stage. Thanks to modern rice cooker all you need to do is pressing a button.
_ Separate the cooked rice when it's still hot to prevent them sticking together and form a hard block later on.
In this video I show you how to cook jasmine and basmati rice in one go.

7 years teaching cooking at Crescent College Comprehensive.

I started my job as an Asian cooking instructor at Crescent College Comprehensive, Limerick in 2008 until 2014. When I moved to Cork, has been an amazing journey. I miss that school where I met so many wonderful people.  I learned about Irish food and many things about Irish culture. It's usually autumn and spring cooking courses ran for 10 weeks each term. We always had so much fun that I often had members asking me to run a continuation class for next term so that everyone can meet and enjoy being in a class together again. Classes were demos, I had recipes ready for members to collect at the door, I would do the cooking and everyone just enjoyed each other company. There was so much laughter, fun and we share life stories, traveling and anything. After 10 weeks, everyone grew to know each other so well and it's always hard to say goodbye at the end for me.  I made friends in my class and still meet them sometimes for coffee every time they are in Cork or I am back to Limerick for a visit.

There was one story about the last day of my spring course, it happened to be the first week in April and it's the first warm and beautiful sunny day of the year. From my class of 12, only one showed up, I carried on my work and my only member got the entire food taken away that night. Who can blame them for the kind of weather we have here in Ireland.

I've learned that food is fundamental, it brings love, brings people together and it gives me so much since I set foot here in Ireland. It helps me to blend in, it connects me with people, it brings understanding and so much love. I have received from food and my food journey keeps going strong.

Exciting moment: deep frying fresh egg noodles.

Everyone favourite part: testing the result and I could relax, watching everyone enjoying the food with laughter and we all have a great chat about the dishes and what I will cook for next lesson. My answer is always: you will find out then.

Result of one night lessons: cutting pineapple, chicken cashew and crispy egg noodle with prawns and veggies.

Cork, my new home.

A field at Sandy Cove, Kinsale summer 2015.

After 7 years living in Limerick I have decided to move to Cork city for a new beginning and a high hope of more opportunities for my job. It had 6 months before the move out of the house in Bruff, a huge change for my kids so I spent time to talk and explained to them about this major change that I believe for good.
With help from my Bruff neighbors I relocated in Cork in summer 2014 and I spent that summer with my kids, took them around Cork to nice places before school started on September. It wasn't an easy process, I wouldn't have made it without help from wonderful friends in Cork and we have been living here for more than a year and love Cork. Kids finally adapt to the new place and they are happy in their new school with more friends from different nationalities. 

Cork is a beautiful and exciting place with so many things to do. There are many amazing farmer markets in Cork, I checked them all out and gained weight after few months but I couldn't resist those wonderful food. I still haven't made it to West Cork, the best place for food in Cork and that keeps my excitement going. I live near Douglas and all the supermarkets are so close by. That makes my job much easier since I have a habit of collecting all the ingredients for my class from almost 5 different supermarkets to make sure I have the best. I have more private clients from Irish to German and it's expanding.

Cork is amazing in every way.

Stunning Sandy Cove. 

View of Cork city from the top of Frankfield on a summer day 2015.

View of the park where I live in winter.