Learning to cook Vietnamese cuisine

From the sunny, lush southern regions to the mountainous north, you’ll find sleepy rural villages, buzzing cities and stunning beaches to explore in Vietnam. A country of beautiful landscapes, rich history and unique culture, Vietnam also has some delicious cuisine to offer.

Before moving to London, I had no idea about Vietnamese cuisine, assuming that it was just another name for Chinese food. And what I knew of Chinese food was – coming from an African country – not exactly accurate either. Now that I’ve been to China and eaten proper Chinese food, I can’t wait to go to Vietnam and set the record straight. In the meantime however, I’m happy to visit the local Vietnamese restaurants in East London and try out the recipe below. I’m not quite ready to make rice paper, but if you’ve got the knack we’d love to hear from you!


Serves 5

100 grams of peeled shrimps, deveined, and sliced down the middle.
Fresh rice paper (as per recipe below.)
2 pinches of sugar & salt
10 medium sized lettuce leaves
1 cup of grated carrot
1 cup of grated green papaya (or green mango, bean sprouts, cucumber)
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
1 tablespoon of finely chopped white onions
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
Chopped fresh herbs – coriander, mint, Vietnamese basil, etc


Pour vegetable oil into wok (medium heat); add onions and fry for 30 seconds. Add shrimp, a pinch of salt & sugar, and cook for a minute more. In a separate bowl make the vegetable mix – add carrots, green papaya, vinegar and 1 pinch of salt & sugar, mixing together.


Rice Batter
1 cup of white rice
Pinch of salt
1 bamboo or kebab stick
Soak the rice in the fresh water for whole night. Clean the rice at least 3 times – to make sure the rice is white
Mix 1 cup of the rice with 2 cups of water, and add a pinch of salt. Place in a blender and blend for 7 minutes – then leave for one hour.


Cover a pot of boiling water with a sheet of thin white cotton and secure it using elastic. Using a big soup spoon (about 2 tablespoons) scoop out the batter and pour onto the cotton – use the bottom of the spoon to move the batter around to form a circle. Steam the batter for one minute – then use the bamboo stick to lift the rice paper from the cotton.

Place some vegetable and herb mix on the rice paper. Then place some wok mixture on top of the vegetables, and roll up the rice paper – taking care to tuck the edges of the paper as you roll.

1. When removing the rice paper from the pot, flip the paper over, so the top “dry side” of the rice paper is facing down.
2. When stacking the rice paper, place a portion of a lettuce or bamboo leaf between each one to prevent them from sticking. This makes it easy to take one piece at a time when needed.
3. Fresh rice paper is difficult to buy in most western countries, however dried rice paper, in packets, is readily available – and is a suitable substitute. To soften dried rice paper for rolling – remove contents from the packet and place amongst fresh vegetables or leave for 3 hours, or immerse in water.
4. Dip rolls into a sweet and sour sauce before eating.

How did that go? Explore Vietnam in person and see how the locals do it.


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