Coconut snack( Vietnam trip part 2).

During my holiday in Vietnam I stayed at a lovely 3 stars family run hotel, I had a chance to capture this lovely moment of the staff having a snack together. It was Tuesday and very few guests were staying so most of staff was doing the cleaning in the garden together. The men took over the duty to take care of this young coconut tree that produces lots of fruit. After everything was done every one sat down together to enjoy the coconut they got from the tree. It's lovely to see how people work and enjoy simple things together.

 Falling coconuts can cause serious injuries so those two men trying to remove the fruits to keep it safe for guests. Can you spot the second man? 
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Young coconut juice are drained into the red ice box.

Caramelised mixed nuts with ginger and rosemary( serve 5).

Like many Asian I love nuts and the only thing I am allergic to is alcohol. It's the other way round here in Ireland. I only can take one drink, it could be Irish coffee, a cocktail or few sips of beer and I will wake up with a hang over the next day. Only my mum can drink in my family and the rest takes after my dad for that allergy. 

The most popular nuts are consumed in Asia is peanuts. They are cheap, tasty and could be grown and harvest in big quantity. Cashew nuts are way more expensive as it requires a lot of labour from growing, harvesting, roasting to get the last product is raw peeled cashew nuts. There are many other kind of nuts we enjoy depends on different region and climate.

Nuts are widely used in cooking to boost the nutty, rich and  savory taste for any dish. Some crunchy toasted cashew/peanuts cannot be missed out for most Asian salad dishes, yoghurt/ porridge topping but, we all know nuts go best with beer. 

This recipe is one of my favourite one. The nuts could be stored in an airtight jar and I often enjoy them as snack. 

Mum's garden( Vietnam trip part 1).

I spent my childhood growing up in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam in the 80's. I spent most of my time in my mum's garden. We had a big wild garden that provided most of our food, wild veggies, fruit and protein sources like snails, snakes, fish, frogs, etc.
My mum was the hunter and she'd do anything to put food on the table for her family. Every morning she would take a bamboo basket and disappeared into the garden. She would come back with edible ingredients for fresh food that day and some ripe fruits like guavas, bananas or papaya as a treat for us when we were young.
Very often the neighbours kids secretly came into our garden to collect ferns, baby wasp or ants to use as bait to catch fish. I remember I was standing there staring at them, saying nothing but they looked really uncomfortable for being in my place and taking our food. The tension was high because they were taking our food and we were very poor.
And they still came again when they needed to and I would follow and stared at them if I saw them. Even so they always knew the rules not to cross, they never collect anything that my parents planted even it has more value. They collected anything grows from nature that my parents didn't have to put labour into. We lived in harmony with people and nature like that.
Vietnam was so poor, food was scarce after the war and later on the sanction came from the West.

Looking back now I feel so lucky to have been living that experience. This time coming back with my kids it's so different. I still have those memories so clear like yesterday but things have changed. The garden is much better cared for now and so many more fruits mum and dad continue to plant together. They are much older now and spending time in the garden is more like a hobby after many years of hard work to bring up three children. The garden is still producing lots of food and my mum often gives it away to our neighbours and relatives when she visits them. It's wonderful to see the garden thrive and brings so much joy, food and love to my family. It's the place of memory, of childhood and so much more.

Clock wise: Limes, coconut tree with young coconuts, noni or Indian Mulberry, pomelos.
Dragon fruits, papayas( it's more than 5meters high so mum just leaves the ripe fruits for birds and bats).

Spring onions and lemongrass.
Yu choi ( similar to bokchoi), edible wild ferns, aloe vera, turmeric.

Spondias dulcis or June plum, golden apple, ambarella and many other names for this kind of fruit, jackfruits, lagerstroemia blooming, Portulaca grandiflora on foot path side.

Food Hour Community radio, Cork city, Ireland.

Last summer I made a trip back to Vietnam with my kids. It had been almost 8 years since last time they visited Vietnam and we had great time spending with my family. I will make few posts about our trip here soon with all the yummy food we had in Vietnam, the people, the fruits and everything else so please stay tune. 

We spent 6 weeks in Vietnam and went back to Ireland on August. I were thrilled to get an email from Elka for a radio talk show. I felt so nervous when the days coming closer. The station located at River Lee hotel with beautiful view and Elka made me so welcomed. I spent an hour there feeling so comfortable sharing about my journey in Ireland, about food, about my classes and everything else revolves around food. 

Food has been bringing me so much joy, it gives me opportunity connecting to Irish people and so much more. 

Stay tune for more food posts from me. 

Chicken fried rice, Vietnamese stir-fry beef with lemongrass on a bed of garlic bokchoi.

I made this video 3 years ago and it's one of my class which I deliver 3 dishes for 2 hours of teaching. It's part 1 of  Stir Frying series, and this is the most popular class for Asian cooking.

Each dish come with clear instruction and tips and how things work and you will find making Asian food is so easy. It takes you only 25 minutes for a delicious dinner for your family. Most the ingredients are available in most supermarket here in Ireland, specially the Bokchoi( or Bakchoi) are grown in Ireland could be found in Dunnes, Tesco, Lidl and SuperValu.

If you have any questions please drop them to the comment box below and I will get back to you.

Thai chicken cashew( serve 4).

Chicken is one of the most favourite dish in my classes and it is so easy to make once. I always use raw cashew nuts and roast it in the oven to avoid using too much oil like the the original Thai recipe over internet. The main character for this dish is the savory chicken blends nicely with the crunchy cashew nuts and the crunchy veggies. The dried chili gives it that smoky spiciness and it's addictive.

Fruit plate.

Every year for Valentine day I would get some home made gifts from my kids with hand writings saying how much they love their mum . That touch my heart because I know they truly put their heart into it.

If you love cooking then a new homemade dishes would be a nice surprise for your love ones. I know lots of Irish ladies in my classes would spend entire evening to cook a Vietnamese meal for their men.  It could be a huge risk if you try a new recipe for the first time on the day so why not trying something safe and easy yet looks lovely like a fruit plate to go with your breakfast. It would be nice if you change it a bit into heart shape. 


Vietnamese grilled aubergine with minced pork/chicken ( serve 3).

This savoury Vietnamese grilled aubergine with minced pork/ chicken is unforgettable. Grilled aubergine is incredible soft, sweet, juicy will go nicely with that enticing taste buds Vietnamese dipping sauce, sauteed scallions, stir-fry minced pork/chicken. The dish will give you something so different yet exciting.

This is one of the most favourite Vietnamese dish that we love for our homemade meals. You can find two kinds of aubergine in Ireland, small type with strong purple colour in Asian shops with much nicer and stronger taste, most of aubergines in Ireland are from Spain. They are much bigger and the taste is a bit plain. I use the Spanish one in this recipe because  they are easy to find. 

Lemongrass: usage and storage.

What is lemongrass?

What are those and how do you use them? I often have people asking me this question when they see me grabbing bunches of lemongrass in the supermarkets. 

Lemongrass is grown in the warm tropic climates of Southeast Asia, India, Latin America and South Africa. It ‘s know by a few names: citronella grass, scurvy grass and fever grass. You could find lemongrass products in different forms from fresh, dried, essential oil.

Thai chicken basil ( serve 4).

Thai chicken basil is one of the most easy dish to make and it's a good introducing dish to anyone who is not familiar to Asian food. My kids love it. In this version I make it mild and you can add a little bit more sugar if you want to make sure the kids won't be put off with new dish. Kids love anything sweet so why not add the real sugar by yourself and cut it down gradually. 

The main flavour of this dish is the purple sterm Thai basil with bright mint and citrus flavour, few places you can find are Asian shops and the amazing Ballymaloe cooking school where they grow the original Thai basil. I substitute them with the sweet basil that could be found in most supermarkets and it works well in my classes. 

Raw, young coconuts are available at Dunnes, Super Valu and M&S.

This organic young raw coconut with installed cap and straw makes you enjoy it fully.