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Here’s another part of Mark’s trip to Vietnam. In this part, I talk about going to Saigon for more cooking; Hoi An, a beautiful city and also fishing in Vietnam.
Back to Saigon
We had another fantastic cooking class where we purchased all ingredients from the local markets and took them back and prepared them for our own tea.
This was one of my favourite recipes:
We took a short flight from Saigon to Da Nang (an hour and 10 minutes) and then it was a short drive to Hoi An. There were large hotels being constructed along the beach, which makes me a little sad. I hope that this country can cope with all the tourists!
Arriving into Hoi An was like a breath of fresh air. But boys, I warn you not to bring your girlfriends or wives here, because it will cost you!! There are over 2000 tailors and cobblers who will make dresses and shoes of any size or design, in one day!
I had a blowout in my good shoes (around $200AUD) and had them copied and made in one day for only $70AUD!!
Hoi An is a must–stay destination for at least a week. Great food destination (a secret garden).
The Cooking School in Hoi An was a real highlight. We went to local market garden and purchased our ingredients, before we started cooking. We also met a lovely old lady who’s 72. She has been tending to the same crops for over 50 years.
I gave her a hand which was, believe you me, very very hard work and she does it twice a day!!
The hotel in Hoi An was excellent and the customer service in the whole of Hoi An was something that we can definitely do with in Australia, at times.
The food is different in all parts of Vietnam. So far, we have done 4 classes from buying local produce at different markets. The store owners are all the same as they try the hard sell, but great fresh veggies and live seafood though!
I have been enjoying the cooking classes. They have been a great stress relief, and I now have several recipes that consist of lots of chillies and fresh herbs under my belt. I still cannot stand coriander 😀
We spent a day fishing at Hoi An which was a great day. We had to catch our own lunch. The fisherman we went with, were told by Darren that I was a fisherman back in Australia and as a result, they treated me very special. They made me a crown out of a coconut branch, and would rub my belly and call me ‘Lucky Buddha’. Note to self: I need to lose some weight when I get home.
The method of fishing is very different to Australia, but it does the job. This video gives you a little insight:
I have eaten some wonderful squid and Spanish Mackerel and Prawns in Hoi An which I had prepared for by myself.
I’d be very sad to leave Hoi An. Tomorrow is a 2 hour drive to Hue. I have been told it is a very nice place.
See you in part 4 of my Vietnam Trip!
Here’s a few more words from Mark about his trip to Vietnam. In this blog post he talks about the Mekong Delta, how the locals fish, the food, the fishing farms and the floating markets.
The Mekong Delta is a massive area of water ways with land in between. I love boats and there are thousands from small beam trawlers and fishing boats to large ships that cart sand and gravel up and down. There are always boats moving. It amazes me how much seafood comes out this delta.
Down in this area, they tend to eat a lot of rats, snakes and dogs, like we eat Macca’s! I did not knowingly try any 🙂 Beef is expensive which is why it’s not eaten, but ducks, chicken and pork is widely consumed. Roadside vendors sell the above mentioned meats in huge quantities and at numerous locations.
The fish farm:
The Fish Farm and Processing Factory was amazing. I helped unload fish that comes in live each day. Around 45 tonnes were unloaded on the day I helped.
Once it enters the factory, it is handled with extreme care. Their hygiene is as good as Australia and New Zealand.
Not a lot of Western people are allowed to visit the fish farms so we felt extremely lucky and privileged to be able to go to the farm that produces 3000 tonnes of seafood per annum. This farm is one of nine farms that the company owns. It was unbelievable!!
The locals made us feel extremely welcome. A big warning: do NOT try the snake or gecko wine!!
The floating markets are a must see. They are unreal!
Cooking class in the Mekong:
The cooking class in the Mekong was a little disappointing because the first class we had in Ho Chi Minh was outstanding. There wasn’t enough hands on in the class for me.
On the way back from Mekong, we visited Cu Chi war tunnels at Ho Chi Minh City, which is really worth a look. The tunnels were used during the Vietnam War.
I also got to shoot a 30 calibre machine gun from the back of the jeep. That was very cool!
We also visited an Agent Orange village, a village full of people affected by Agent Orange.
The villages receive medical and psychological help and the villagers themselves do fantastic work with egg shell paintings. War sucks.
See you in part 3 of my Vietnam Trip!
Mark is currently in Vietnam for a fishing Conference with his friend Darren.
On arriving at Vietnam, this is what he had to say on his first day there:
Vietfish was unreal – the work that they put into this event is a credit to the Fishing and Seafood Industries and Government.
My first day in Vietnam: I am a bit lost for words. It was a huge culture shock. In amongst the chaos, things happen; work gets done!
I had a great flight over and had a good sleep on the plane. There are10 million people in Saigon and 9 million motorbikes!
Holy moley! It is amazing how smooth traffic flows without traffic lights or rules!!
We went on an 1 hour ride on the back of a scooter. It was a little bit scary at first but ended up loving it. It was the highlight so far.
The service here is very good. We could get some great skills from the staff over here.
We are heading to Mekong Delta to look at a fish farm and will try to write more over coming days. Will try and send some photos.
Having a great adventure. Missing everyone. Mark.
You can read about my next ventures in Mark’s Trip to Vietnam, Part Two.
Here is the latest press release from the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) QSIA MR_Net Free Zones Petition_14 Sept 2015
and from Deb Frecklington MP MR_State News_Frecklington fights for sustainable fishing
regarding the proposed Net Ban.
It was also featured on Channel 7 aired, Wednesday 16th September:
Mark caught up with Barry Hamilton (Hammo) from 4MK and raised our concerns about the proposed commercial net fishing bans. Specifically the impacts the ban would have on the supply of local fish to the Mackay community.
If you would like to support our cause, you can email Jim Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org and briefly explain why you don’t want the bans to take effect. ie: I want to eat locally caught fish.
You can also sign our petition, by clicking on this link:
For more information on how our meeting went with our local MP, click here:
For more information on how a ban on net fishing affects you, click here:
Here is another great simple but healthy recipe by resident Chef, Craig. If you’re not a trevally fan any other firm white fish will go well with this recipe such as Blue Salmon, Barramundi or King Salmon.
1 medium ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
¼ cup roughly chopped coriander leaves
1 medium garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lime
½ teaspoon hot sauce
4 x skinless trevally, or other firm white fish fillets
4 x 8-inch flour tortillas
1.In a medium bowl, toss the mango with the coriander, garlic, lime juice and hot sauce.
2.Season with salt.
3.Light a grill and brush the grates with oil.
4.Season the fish with salt and grill over a high heat, turning once, until charred on the outside and opaque throughout. This will take about 4 minutes each side.
5.Grill the tortillas until warm and lightly charred, about 30 seconds each side.
6.Top the tortillas with the fish and the mango salsa.
7.Fold the tortillas over the filling and serve immediately.
2. Which areas are affected?
St Helen’s Beach – Cape Hillsborough, North of Mackay.
Yeppoon / Keppel Bay / Fitzroy River, Capricorn.
Trinity Bay, Cairns.
3. How does this affect the consumer?
60% of the fish we sell at Debbie’s Seafood comes from the areas mentioned above.
If our fishermen can’t fish there, that would mean less choice of local fish for the customer and more imported fish.
90% of the community in Mackay do not fish for recreation and rely on places like Debbie’s Seafood for their fresh fish and seafood.
4. Is all of your seafood local?
About 90% of the fish we bring into the shop is from the Mackay region.
The rest of our fish is either from New Zealand or Tassie.
5. Net fishing. Isn’t that damaging to the environment? Doesn’t everything get caught in the net?
Commercial fisheries use specific nets to target specific species and the nets are a specific weight, depending on the species. With barramundi, for example, our fishermen have adopted a practice that is currently practiced in the gulf, where the maximum sized net is 6.5 inches. Any smaller fish will simply swim right through.
6. What are green and yellow zones?
Green zones are a no-go zone for both recreational fishermen and commercial fishers.
Yellow zones are a no-go area for commercial fishers except when they are catching bait to which they would use a much smaller sized net. The bait of course, then becomes available for recreational fisherman or commercial line fishers.
7. Don’t turtles and dugongs get caught?
Net entanglements in turtles are relatively rare and they are often able to shake free from the nets alive. Commercial fishermen have done an Endangered Species course enabling them to resuscitate turtles if required anyway. Besides, most responsible fishers generally know which areas the turtles feed in. Regarding dugongs, sightings and interactions are rarer than turtles. The highest risk areas for potential interactions are in seagrass areas and local fishers generally know areas that they frequent and avoid the area.
If you buy your fish at a shop or a market and you live in the Mackay area, this could affect your choice of fish in the future.
You can sign our petition, by clicking on this link:
If you want to hear 4MK chats with Mark Ahern , click here:
If you want to hear more about our meeting with our local MP, click here: