When I think back to growing up in Vietnam, my memories are infused with the rich flavours of food. Without a shadow of a doubt, when i taste a certain ingredient, I am whisked right back to being young again, helping my Grandma in the kitchen.
All those fresh flavours that Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for transport me back to shopping at the busy market, helping to carry the groceries, standing by whilst my parents and Grandma chose fish and meat. Who knew that years later, these times would influence me to become a chef?
And yet here we are.
Vietnamese families gather to eat socially in the evenings, with a banquet of small dishes rather than a two or three course meal. Royalty influenced this style of eating and the more dishes you serve reflects how wealthy the household is. Meat would be one of the many dishes and more of an accompaniment than the main feature. And we still eat like this in our family today – although we’re a bit far removed from royalty, although my daughter may think she’s a princess at times!
Of course the French Indo-China influence has brought many new flavours and culinary dishes to the attention of us here in the UK. I mean who doesn’t love the Banh Mi? That delicious sandwich with all its beautiful herbs and chillies? Bestill my beating heart!
Back when I was a child, noodles, rice and soups all featured heavily throughout our mealtimes (yep, including breakfast!) and of course, have become loved all the world round.
All these influences from Cambodia in the South, which its delicious curries and fish sauce, to the North with its love of stir fries and Soya sauce, they have all been wonderful influences on us here in the UK. Every dish is bursting with flavours and textures to delight our tastebuds, which is why I want to bring them to your house too.
I’m all for sitting round the dining table together and sharing a feast – admittedly, getting my own children to enjoy (or even try!) some of the more adventurous Vietnamese cuisine can sometimes be a challenge!
But nothing beats a big bowl of warming noodles to end the day. Simple, nourishing… and one mouthful whisks ,m e straight back to my Vietnamese roots.