My friend Shane came to visit me when I was working in Vietnam and I thought it wold be fun if we did a motorbike tour into the Mekong Delta that included a cooking class.
We picked up our motor bikes, drivers and tour guide from Vespa Adventures at the Zoom Cafe in Saigon and drove to the outskirts of the city where I took a short driver’s class and test so I could drive myself. I did this trip three times while I was in Vietnam. Once driving and twice riding behind. Riding is more relaxing and you get to see more of the scenery rather than having to pay attention to the driving.
The other great thing about these tours was that every time there were only two of us in addition to the staff! Private tours! How awesome!
On the way down the delta we stopped at a shrimp farm, where they get about 3 harvests per year. The shrimp in Vietnam is outstanding!
After the shrimp farm we stopped at a little place where a woman was making stick incense. She prepares the sandalwood powder and places it in a hopper where it is semi automatically compressed onto a stick. She sends the completed incense sticks to the factory where the scent is added and they are packaged for sale. She makes about $5 a day U.S. for all of her effort.
Next we went to a farm where they were making “rice wine”. In reality, it was a distilled spirit made from rice that resembles American moonshine.
The rice is harvested (3 crops per year in the Mekong Delta) and made into a mash with rice, yeast and water that is allowed to ferment. After the fermentation is complete, the alcohol is distilled off and you have “rice wine”. The wine is cut about half an half with water for the men and about 1/4 wine to 3/4 juice for the ladies.
The spent mash is fed to the sow so she can feed her piglets and the dung from the sow is allowed to compost and produce methane that is captured in a bladder that is stored at ceiling level in the fermentation hut.
The methane is used to fuel the burner that is used to cook meals.
Circle of Life!
After a taste of wine we were ready for our cooking class. We stopped at the market where our guide picked up a few items and then on to a little covered deck along the river that was to be our cooking class.
Pineapple fried rice with chicken was to be our main dish. We also had prawns and baby Bok Choi.
Here is the recipe as it was provided.
I always found it interesting to see how Vietnamese is translated into English.
Our dish was yummy! This can also be made with shrimp. If you use shrimp, add the shrimp for the last few minutes so you do not over cook.
On the way back to Saigon, we stopped to see a Cau Dai Church. This is a religion that was started in Vietnam in the 1920’s that incorporates the teachings of several other religions including Christianity.