Hoi An: Vietnam’s Food Mecca

Hoi An: Vietnam’s Food Mecca

Alana Lowes travels to Hoi An: Vietnam's foodie mecca.

By Alana Lowes | 9th July 2014

Hoi An is the Mecca for foodies in Vietnam and myself, my hubby and a couple of friends went on a pilgrimage in search of food enlightenment.  Well...not exactly, but we all certainly ate our weight in food and made sure we learnt as much about the culture and cuisine as possible.

Being the serious foodie in the group, I booked us all into a cooking class in Hoi An.  I love the chance to learning new techniques and flavour combinations, for the others, I think it was the chance to eat another meal that was the drawcard.

Red Bridge Cooking School is located on the banks of the picturesque Hoi An River.  The 25 minute cruise down the waterway opened our eyes to traditional river life.  Houses and shacks lined the banks, while the river was dotted with locals fishing from little wooden boats.

The trick to plunging yourself into a culture during a short stay is by heading to a local food market and to watch everyday life pass by.  Our gorgeous guide from the cooking school lead us around the vibrant and colourful Hoi An fresh food market.  We sharpened our bargaining skills on packets of heady spices and licked our lips as we sampled fresh just picked fruit and vegetables.

With our baskets laden with our delicious pickings, it was time to learn the art of making fresh rice paper rolls.  If you are like me and always reach for the packet rice paper roll sheets, then you will be excited to know that once you get the hang of the technique, it is actually quite simple to prepare and so  much tastier!  Check out the step-by-step recipe below.

There are also two other very special dishes I went in search of while in Hoi An.  White Rose dumplings, which are aptly named after their transparent petal like appearance, are filled with minced pork or prawns, topped with crispy fried onions and served with a zippy dipping sauce.  The other local Hoi An dish is Cao Lao noodles.  Only made in Hoi An, the noodles used in this dish are the specialty.  Apparently the noodles are made from the water of one of the closely guarded ancient Cham wells hidden throughout Hoi An.  Udon Noodle in style, they have slightly more resistance to bite and are drowned in a caramelised pork broth.  Almost every restaurant in town will serve up both the White Rose and Cao Lao and there is also the Central Food Market where you can practice your bartering skills and have a feast for just a few dollars.

One trap for new visitors eating in Hoi An is that there is always something delicious to try, check out my recipe for rice paper rolls.

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Article by Alana Lowes

Alana Lowes is of MasterChef pedigree, a celebrity cook, has travelled the world co-hosting the television show ‘A Taste of Travel' on Channel Ten and loves to write here, there and everywhere about food and travel.