Considered to be one of the healthiest diets in the world, Vietnamese cuisine uses fresh, simple, and affordable ingredients to create dishes that are big in flavors, rich in nutrients, and enticing to the senses. Rice, vegetables, and herbs are the main attractions in Vietnamese cooking and dishes are traditionally free of gluten and dairy, and cooked with minimal use of oil. It is a sophisticated cuisine in its sense of aesthetics and presentation, balance of flavors, textures, and colors, and unique fusion of different cultures.
The distinctive taste of Vietnamese food reflects centuries of foreign influences from invasions, its unique geography with diverse regional specialties, its Buddhist-inspired “five elements” cooking theory designed around yin and yang/balance and harmony, and a flexible approach to recipes that respects individual tastes and preferences, and creates an exciting and spontaneous feel to cooking and eating.
Phở and Beyond: Vietnamese Food Culture Series is presented by Hue-Chan Karels, Chef-Owner of Open Kitchen, as either hands-on cooking classes or chef demonstrations. Born in Da Nang, the largest city of Central Vietnam, Hue-Chan and her family settled in the U.S. as refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam war in 1975.
Hue-Chan will take you on a culinary journey of flavors and techniques that make up Vietnamese cuisine. She will share recipes and stories that bring Vietnamese food to life on your plate. In addition to learning about the balancing and health benefits of essential ingredients, and the fundamentals of food preparation and presentation, participants can experience a glimpse of Vietnamese history and culture through each dish.
A Taste of Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnamese Cuisines Cooking Class – October 13, 2019
Vietnam is divided into three primary regions: Northern, Central and the Southern. Its long, slender and unique geography plays an important role in its cuisine because of how the climate affects the availability of certain food and spices within each region. In this class, you will travel from northern Vietnam, through its central belly and down to its southern tail, to get a taste of varying styles and approaches to food and its preparation as well as the different ingredients being used.
Phở Love – Date TBD
Join Open Kitchen and discover the history, differences, and techniques used in making the classic Phở Bò, Vietnam’s national dish of beef noodle soup as well as the popular and lighter Phở Gà, a chicken noodle soup version. Bring the savory, aromatic, and perfectly balanced flavors of this beloved soup to life as you learn how to work with the core ingredients and traditional, as well as more modern-day, preparation of both beef and chicken Phở. In this class, you’ll learn how to select and prepare meat bones to create Phở’s signature broth and develop delicious umami flavor using charred ginger, onion, shallots and a combination of spices. You’ll also learn how to prepare garnishes for your piping hot bowl of Phở.
Vietnamese Street Food Cooking Class – September 12, 2019
Eating street food in Vietnam is a way to experience local life. In this class, you will travel the streets of Vietnam and taste the vibrancy of life expressed through its street food from rolls, noodles, and grilled dishes to sweet treats. Hawkers, street carts, and small shops woo passersby with the savory scents, sizzling grills, and clamor of pots — offering their specialties packed with flavors and spices, using fresh local ingredients.
Baguette & Beyond: French Influence on Vietnamese Cuisine Cooking Class – November 10, 2019
Franco-Vietnamese relations started as early as the 17th century with the arrival of Catholic missionaries in Vietnam. France eventually colonized Vietnam from 1887 to 1954. French colonialism left its mark on Vietnamese cuisine with the introduction of ingredients such as onions, white potatoes, and asparagus; staples such as coffee and baguette; and cooking techniques such as baking, making broths and crepes, and sautéing.
In this class, you will taste how the Vietnamese absorbed French culinary influence — not accepting it as-is, but rather integrating these new additions in their own way, tailoring the ingredients to their way of eating and cooking.
Oodles of Vietnamese Noodles Cooking Class – Date TBD
Vietnam was under Chinese rule for over 1,000 years, beginning in 111 BC. This domination brought Buddhism, Confucianism, Chinese writing, architecture, art, clothing, chopsticks, woks, and noodles to Vietnamese culture.
In this class, you will taste how the Vietnamese have adopted and perfected noodles into its unique cuisine. We will prepare a variety of distinctive Vietnamese dishes using main types of noodles: Bánh Phở (Rice Sticks), Bún (Rice Vermicelli Noodles), and Miến (Glass Noodles).
Mindfulness in the Kitchen: Vietnamese “Five Elements” Cooking Class – Date TBD
Vietnamese cooking is based on the Buddhist-inspired “five elements” theory, designed to
promote nutritional balance by pairing five natural elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal) with their corresponding flavors and colors. Harmony is created for the whole body by appealing to the five senses: the balance of five flavors appeal to the sense of taste, aromatic herbs and spices to appeal to the sense of smell, food eaten with the hands to appeal to the sense of touch, colorful food arrangements to appeal to the eyes, and crispy textures to appeal to the ears.
In this class, you will learn about the five elements cooking theory and how it is applied to Vietnamese cuisine, and mindfully heighten your awareness of senses through cooking and eating.
Deeper Culinary Dive: Northern Vietnamese Cuisine Cooking Class -Date TBD
Northern Vietnam is the cradle of Vietnamese civilization. The climate is colder and the variety of spices and availability of herbs and vegetables is limited. The food is lighter and less spicy than in the Center and South regions. In this class, you will dive deeper into the fundamentals of food preparation, ingredients, and style of Northern Vietnamese dishes and experience Vietnamese history and culture through each dish.
Deeper Culinary Dive: Central Vietnamese Cuisine Cooking Class – Date TBD
Huế was the ancient royal capital of Vietnam until 1945 and the Central region of Vietnam is the home of imperial cooking. Central cuisine is more complex and spicier than the cold climate fares of the North and the tropical flavors of the South. Meals often consist of small portions of many dishes. Chili peppers and shrimp sauce are frequently used. In this class, you will dive deeper into the fundamentals of food preparation, ingredients, and style of Central Vietnamese dishes and experience Vietnamese history and culture through each dish.
Deeper Culinary Dive: Southern Vietnamese Cuisine Cooking Class – Date TBD
Warm, tropical weather and fertile soil of Southern Vietnam along the Mekong Delta create an ideal environment for rice and a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, seafood, and livestock. French, Indian, Cambodian, and Thai culinary influences are most prominent in this region. Southern dishes are often spicier with sweet, sour flavors. In this class, you will dive deeper into the fundamentals of food preparation, ingredients, and style of Southern Vietnamese dishes and experience Vietnamese history and culture through each dish.
Vegan Vietnamese Cooking Class – Date TBD
Rice, vegetables, and herbs are the main attractions in most Vietnamese dishes, with meats used more as condiments than as main courses. Vietnamese food is primarily free of gluten and diary, and cooked with minimal use of oil. For this class, a vegan menu has been designed from classical Vietnamese dishes.