In a quest to find a hobby — the desire exacerbated by Paul starting guitar lessons –, I arranged a short course of private cookery classes with Cameron, a Canadian chef based in Hanoi who we met when setting up a blog website for him.
Myself and two friends, Laura and Urshi, spent three very enjoyable Wednesday evenings at Cameron’s house cooking a range of delicious dishes while imbibing good wine and chatting about food and general gossip.
Each week we prepared and cooked snacks, salads, vegetables, meat and desserts, learning to joint a chicken, cook duck to perfection, make crumbly pastry and bake a chocolate souffle, among other things. At the end of the evening we ate the results of our efforts and returned home full, learned and a bit tipsy.
Needless to say, when the course finished we missed our Wednesday night adventure, so Laura and I arranged to spend an evening cooking pork pies: something we both wanted to have a go at (as you can’t buy them here).
Laura bought all the ingredients and prepared the jelly — which involved boiling pigs’ trotters with vegetables for hours — during the day and I turned up after work. Neither of us was prepared for just how long finely chopping over 2kg of pork and streaky bacon would take but neither had we really calculated that the length of cooking time meant we’d need to wait up until 11.30pm to remove the pies from the oven and pour in the jelly. Not the end of the world of course, but bear in mind Laura gets up at the crack of dawn with baby Aubin and I just like my sleep!
Were the results worth it? Well, we learnt that making two pies was excessive, that the smaller pie dish was a better size, that duck fat is a better replacement for lard than shortening (but we’ll use butter next time) and that we should have used a lot more salt, but having initially declared we would never make them again, we agreed to give it another go in our quest for the perfect pork pie.