A few years ago my husband’s grandmother had her house extended to include a new kitchen and bathroom, however I noticed that whilst they were using this area for some food preparation, they were still washing the dishes outside.
During our most recent visit I was curious to see exactly where and how they prepared their delicious banquets. To my surprise I discovered that just off the modern kitchen they have a lean-to where they cook over a wood-fired stove.
Nearing midday it was already 35 degrees Celsius with just a hint of a breeze whispering around us. Stepping into the lean-to it must have been at least five degrees hotter, but two wood-fired stoves had me mesmerised – one cooking a huge pot of soup, and the other cooking numerous batches of Banh Xeo in a wok.
Banh Xeo is a delicious savoury pancake filled with mung beans, pork and prawns, and eaten wrapped in salad leaves with noodles and fresh herbs, and like all Vietnamese food, dipped in nuoc mam.
My arrival also coincided with the making of a crispy chicken salad using the heart of the banana tree stem. Very sharp knives were used to slice it wafer thin.
Barbecued giant tiger prawns were also on the menu.
All were delicious as always, and a little more special from knowing how they were prepared.