Great Recipes For Hosting This Christmas

A Christmas lunch with all the trimmings can be a daunting prospect for many home cooks, sending them into panic mode leading up closer to the 25th December lunch for their family. The idea of working over a baking oven might be less than appealing for many, as Australia starts heat up during Summer sun and your thoughts of visiting a pool while refresher. Take the stress out of Christmas Day and opt to make fresher, healthier and simpler affairs. However you choose to celebrate, the most important aspect is spending time with family, loved ones and friends.

Here’s a few ideas on how to have a great Christmas Lunch.




  • Selection of Seafood
  • Vietnamese Summer Rolls
  • Selection of BBQ skewers





  • Cold Turkey Salad
  • Thai Beef Salad
  • Glazed Ham and Asian Apple Salad
  • Japanese Cold Soba Noodle 




  • Mango and Sticky Rice
  • Palova, Cream, Berries and Kiwi
  • Summer Fruit With Coconut 
Great Recipes For Hosting This Christmas

Selection of Seafood

New to cooking seafood? Start here to find advice on choosing fish at the grocery store, as well as tips on how to simply prepare and store seafood at home.

It might be easier to start with a baby step of getting the freshest possible seafood for your lunch by ordering them as earlier as you can. I would recommend to have 200g of fresh meat per person. This means you will need 500g if you buy them with shells. 

Get a mixture of prawns, crabs, lobsters, clams and fish. Soak them well to get rid of the sands. Make a large pot of water with lemon grass, kafir leaf, ginger and salt and slowly poach one at the time. Go for the prawn and lobster first then clams and mussels. Make sure you get a ice bucket with water so you can drop the food in there to make sure they stop cooking so your seafood would be juicy.

Place all the ingredients nicely on a big platter. You can divide them in small plasters if your guests are not coming at the same time to get the food safe in the heat. When you serve your seafood make sure you get some ice and something green plus some lemon wedges for garnish. Might be nice to get some mints for garnish as well. 

Other things you could do well in the seafood plasters are some nice sausages to boil with them or great with some fresh corns. 

Boiled Seafood For Xmas Lunch


Vietnamese Summer Rolls

We love our Vietnamese summer rolls and it might be nice for the guests to roll them too. Get some boiled pork belly and slice them thin. You only need few slices and few cooked prawn per person. And each person you would need to have 1/2 cups of herbs and vegetables such as mints, coriander, Vietnamese mint, Thai basil, sliced iceberg and julienne carrots, and perhaps some boiled rice noodles. Lastly get a package or two of rice papers - make sure each guest get 2-3 rolls. You also get a large plaster or plate with water to dip the rice paper in.

How to serve it? I would organise all the vegetable and herbs neatly on a plaster and show your guests how to put together a rice paper rolls first. You can use cold or warm water to soften the rice paper. Each of the roll require about 2 finger volume worth of vegetable, herb and meats. Lay the wet rice paper and place the mixture in the middle. Make sure you have heaps of space around the mix. Fold away from you then both sides in then roll them into a log.

Christmas rice paper rolls

Selection of BBQ skewers

Summer BBQ would great without some skewers as it would make eating for fun. You don't need to do so much except buy chunky chicken, beef and or lamb meats with couple of toasted Japanese Yakitori  and Kewpie mayor for Christmas lunch. Pop them on the BBQ during the lunch and get people to turn them for you. You can do the meats couple of days ahead marinating with oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and a bit of chopped chilli.Upon finishing the grill, dizzle some of the sauce and add some sesame seed. This would taste and look beautiful.


Cold Turkey Salad

I would think you can give turkey a Thai taste with this delicious turkey and vermicelli salad, fresh herbs and lime juice. A great recipe for turkey in the heat! 


Thai Beef Salad

I’m probably completely crazy, but I think that Thai beef salads are the best in the Christmas Lunch. For a Thai Beef salad, you really only need around 80-120g of good quality steak. I would cut them into 2-3 fingers and marinade with soy, ginger, garlic and leave in the fridge for couple of hours. Heat up a pan with some oil, fry them 1 minutes each side. Make sure they are medium rare. The dressing for this salad, I just use chopped chilli, garlic, coriander both stem and leaves with equal amount of canola oil, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. For the vegetable, I would use celery, some cabbage, carrot, cherry tomato, red onions and cucumber, mint and coriander leaves for garnish.


Glazed Ham and Asian Apple Salad

A little planning and imagination can go a long way for your favourite leg of ham. I just got equal or 1/2 cup each hoisin, plum, soy, rice wine plus few garlic, ginger and Chinese five spices plus table of brown sugar to make the sauce. Make sure you mix well.

You can roast your ham as usual then use a pastry brush to brush the sauce on the ham to finish it off. Cool then slice. This might take couple of hours in the oven depending on how large your ham leg would be. If you know the weather getting hot, just cook them the day before.

I would just dice apples, celery and mint then mix them up with lemon juice and kewpie mayo. If you don't have kewpie mayo you can just use normal one you have.


Japanese Cold Soba Noodle 

Cold soba is a popular Japanese summer salad. The cold noodles are traditionally served in a bamboo basket. Chopsticks are used to pick up a small amount of the noodles which are then dipped into the sauce, mixed with some wasabi and ginger. 


Mango and Sticky Rice

This classic, much-loved Thai dessert is prepared at home and in restaurants in Thailand and overseas. If mangoes aren't in season, try using sliced sugar bananas instead. Sticky rice is readily available from Asian grocers as is also known as glutinous rice. 


Palova, Cream, summer Berries and Kiwi

Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, light as a feather, and laden with colourful fruit… this is the ultimate pavlova recipe and a summer staple in Australia. The Pavlova an iconic and sometimes controversially so classic Australian dessert. New Zealand may claim to be the original inventor of the Pavlova too. Either way you will have a winner dessert.


Summer Fruit With Coconut 

Simple yet tasty. This no-cook dessert is served straight from the freezer, for a true taste of summer indulgence.

Asia Food Inpirations

Tips and Tricks You Might Learn From Our Chef


The very first thing you go to work in the kitchen, you will need to make sure you knife is sharp. Learn the sharp knives with a stone from Chef's Armoury . These guys have a great ideas and they do have a class for knife sharpening if you are keen on learn from the best. A sharp knife makes chopping so much faster and easier. You might want to learn to chop properly and that would make the chopping more fun.


If peeling carrots or potatoes feels like it takes forever, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong peeler. My advice? Throw away the rusty swivel one that’s been sitting in your drawer for years and order a new one from ebay. 


This is how commercial kitchen works with “putting things in its place,” and it refers to getting all of your ingredients out, measured, and prepped before you start cooking. This is how restaurant kitchens get food out so quickly and efficiently. And while you don’t need to be quite so exacting at home, it’s much easier to follow a recipe when your ingredients are all ready to go in advance.


This is a great tip as skin to crisp, you need to get rid of as much moisture as possible — because moisture and steam kill any chance of crisping and browning. This will also prevent the meat and skin from sticking to the pan as it cooks.


Even if you want food in a hurry, push up the heat to high isn’t always the best way. Slowly sautéing aromatics — like onions, shallots, or garlic — in oil over medium-low heat will bring out more flavour and will keep them from burning and getting bitter - in Asian cooking. Cooking meat or veggies over medium heat will give them time to cook all the way through without burning on the outside. Simmering soups or braises instead of boiling them will cook the ingredients and meld the flavours without making meat tough, or breaking veggies apart.


Those fancy vegetable cuts you see in nice restaurants? There’s reasoning behind them besides just looking impressive. Smaller cuts will cook quicker than big ones, so using a mix of both can vary the texture of a dish. We don't want something is soggy while something is still uncooked so we keep them uniformed.


You’ve heard this before, but a clean kitchen bench is so much easier to work in. Wipe down your chopping board after you finish prepping each ingredient. Put pots, pans, and utensils in the sink or dishwasher as soon as you finish using them. Space is tight in restaurant kitchens especially the ones in Melbourne or Sydney. Cooks can spend the afternoon prepping for 100 guests or more, all from a single cutting board. 


Food can’t caramelise or brown in a crowded frying plan. A handful of sliced vegetables cooked in a hot frying pan with a layer of oil will come out brown, crisp, and deeply flavoured. Too many things cooked in the same pan, same time and the same oil will come out pale, soggy, and less flavourful. Same technique goes for roasted vegetables in oven tray. Piling ingredients on top of each other creates moisture that gets trapped which means your food will steam instead of crisping or browning.


Butter is delicious but it can’t stand up to high heat, since the milk solids in it can burn. Neutral oils, like canola or vegetable oil, don’t add any flavour but are perfect for roasting, frying, and searing because they can stand up to high temperatures without burning.  High-quality olive oil, avocado oil or pumpkin seed oil are not good for high heat as they would burn.  However they are great for salad dressings and for finishing dishes once they’re cooked.


You know our taste is based around sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, salty and a bit of umame.  For example, all food cultures use salt brings out flavour, which means good seasoning make food tasty. To really maximise all the flavours in a recipe, season with a bit of salt every time you add a new ingredient.

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Top 3 Tips To Cook Healthier

Healthy eating goes beyond just consuming nutritious food. The way you prepare your food is equally important. If you had been eating out lesser and cooking at home more often, kudos to you!! That’s a great start to healthy eating! Now, let’s take a step further by using these tips to cook healthier meals at home!

Why is it important to have good sauces?

It's always good to be a little saucy, especially when it comes to food! Sauces play an important role in maximising flavours, adding juiciness and improving the mouth feel of a dish. For instance, if you’re having a BBQ party at home, having a delicious sauce to slather over your BBQ meat will make a world of difference.

Tips on How to Plan the Ultimate Surprise Party

Guest list

As the host and creator of this delightful surprise, it is vital that you invite your honoree’s closest friends and family, and other guests that he/she was not expecting. The great thing about this is kids can join in too! Once your guest list is completed,  organise your guest RSVPs and collect deposits as soon as you know they’re coming, so that you can then easily secure your reservation. In the invitation, be sure to let all of your guests know that this is, in fact, a surprise and remind them to keep this a secret from the honoured guest. For an additional element of surprise, hide your guests in a back room or the dark, so when the birthday guy or gal arrives, they’re in for a great awakening! If you have a long guest list for the mystery dinner experience, it is essential to ask if they have any dietary restrictions or food allergies to prevent emergency trips to the doctors, allergic reactions or stomach aches.


Properly prep for the party

To properly prepare the perfect dishes, work with an OTAO kitchen chef to gain insight on how to complement the guest of honours pallet. Your personal OTAO chef can advise you to meal options from a healthy balance menu.
Quick tip: consider menu items such as the popular dumpling party or our Vietnamese cooking party, as guests can cook and prepare their own meals with the option of eliminating certain ingredients from a recipe.


Have fun

Upon arrival, walk your blindfolded guest into our cooking kitchen and remove their blindfold to reveal the excitement! Once the reveal is complete, let the cooking begin!

Allow your guests to choose their cooking partners or pull names out of a hat to keep the mystery element of the experience going! If you want to assign partners, consider pairing a more experienced chef with a novice, so everyone learns from one another. Matching a non-experienced chef with one with more cooking credibility can assist in building better relationships too! Interactive cooking is all about having fun while creating something new and learning new techniques that you can incorporate into your cooking repertoire.


After your exceptional and interactive cooking experience, keep the entertainment going by heading over to The National Hotel with your guests!

We hope that you found these tips and tricks useful in the party planning process. Consider OTAO for exceptional services and an experience that is one of a kind.

Book with us today to reserve a spot for your next birthday celebration!

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How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Before you start

There are many ways to cook steak, from gas, charcoal grills, frying pans to oven broilers and even wood burning pizza ovens. No matter which method you use to cook your steak, the key is to make sure that your pan, griddle or barbecue is hot before adding the steak. To get the perfect pan seared steak, we recommend using an old-fashioned cast iron pan as it retains heat better than newer materials. By doing so, it will help to caramelise the meat that is essential for a delicious crust and trap the moisture for a juicy steak. To know more about the step-by-step on how to pan fry sirloin steak, check out this article.

During cooking

It may be tempting to flip your steak over and over to check if it’s cooked but to get the perfectly cooked steak, it is important to resist this temptation and only turn the steak once. The more frequent you flip the steak, the tougher the texture becomes. The steak should be left to cook on one side until moisture can be seen on the surface, then turn it. Furthermore, if you are cooking on an outdoor grill, it is important to not raise the lid until you need to flip the steak as the temperature of the grill drops steeply once the lid is opened. Now, you can try out this grilled steak recipe by Food Network! 

After cooking

Remember to let your steak rest after they come off the heat. This helps to keep the steaks juicy and tender. You can also rub it with a little extra virgin olive oil or butter for an extra boost of flavour.
If you’re interested in learning more tips and tricks on how to cook a wholesome meal, sign up for our cooking classes today! Our professional chefs will provide you amazing tips and recipes that you can’t get off the books! Find out more from our website here.

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The Guide To a Canapé Party


People often ask this question then wonder how much would be enough. It is commonsense on a party you are having. Best to know how long want the party to last and whether your guests come on time. It is best for 7-9 savoury and 2-3 sweet canapés per person for a standard 3-4 hour party where no other food is served. Each piece should be good for one or two bites.

If the party food is served pre and post a main sit down dinner then we would recommend for 3-4 pieces per person. This gives the guests a chance to kick off their appetite  but this amount won’t be enough before the main meal. After work functions, it would be best to serve 4-6 pieces as people tend to be bit hungry. It is always a good things to have some extra food in case your guests are very hungry. You or your staff will need to control the quantities and will slow down the service if needed.



Quite often party organiser are keen to know who would be in the functions so they can cater to the mass. If you don't know well who is coming then It is best to choose a selection of canapé and ways to make them so you would please everyone. Popular items would be rice paper rolls, spring rolls, dumpling, sushi, tomato and mozzarella skewers, cocktail sausage, fish cake or vegetable tarts or even burgers and salmon blinis... The options are your choice however try to mix beef, chicken, fish, prawn, vegan and gluten free, dairy food and fodmap and other common dietary restrictions so you will make everyone happy. Most caterer or our chef would be able to help you to choose the menu.


You would need to decide whether you want to set up as in a station or have someone flow around to serve the foods. If you buy your finger foods from supermarket then you would need to find a solution of trays and utensils to serve the food out of the packaging. Catering companies like us would have these foods in the tray and even have staff to serve them for you. Please note the size and shape of the tray is important if you have limited spaces as it would be difficult to walk around for you and catering staff. Lastly think of user friendly finger foods items - sushi might not be easy to eat as it can get quite messy in a party.


We found the best wines are the ones that most your guests can enjoy. These wines are easy to drink, mainstream and non obtrusive. Choose a sparkling wine, decent soft red such as pinot, sauvignon blanc or rose. We think beverage selection should be palate cleansing properties and food compatibility. You can add on one or two easy cocktails if you have a caterer in or let the guests make cocktail themselves too.


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Tips and Tricks For Cooking Beautiful Thai Food At Home

How To Cook Thai Food Well?

How to cook Thai food well may start with finding good ingredients such as palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce or chilli will make your Thai food taste beautifully. If you go to most Asian grocer , you might find most of the ingredients. This important ingredient purchase step means using freshly squeezed lime and proper Thai basil, which is available in good Asian grocers. Here are the market you should visit before you can cook Thai food well.

  • Queen Victoria Market
  • Richmond Asian Grocer on Victoria Street Richmond
  • Preston Market
  • South Melbourne Market
  • Spring Vale Market
  • Footcray Market
  • Sunshine Asian Grocer 
  • St Albans Grocers
  • Prahan Market

Cooking Thai Dinner For Friends and Family

Cooking for family and friends are natural steps for man of us. Quite often it can be stressful as you want to impress your loved ones. We encourage you to find a easy simple Thai recipes to cook so you can get a balance in your Thai cooking dinner. This includes choosing a variety of dishes for a meal, which should have a balance of salty, sweet, sour, bitter and hot as well as texture. 


Easy Thai Recipes

Easy Thai recipes may mean less stress at home and quite often the simple is the best policy in cooking at home. I always get asked - what is your favourite dish or favourite restaurant. The asnwer is a difficult one as I like plenty of variety in my everyday foods. To be fair we are one of very lucky nation on earth where we can get many choices at one. Try some classic Thai menu of all time - fish cake, Thai sauce, Thai chicken curry, Pad Thai or Thai Noodles, Thai Beef and Thai Dessert.


How To Make Thai Paste

To make a Thai Sauce it is best with mortar and pestle. If you an aspiring Thai cooks is to make pastes and even coconut cream, from scratch. It may take some time but a good curry paste for dinner for four people that's about two or three tablespoons of curry paste. It takes about 5 minutes to pound in a mortar and pestle. But it's buying the stuff that is time consuming. So we recomend you go freeze your thai paste. Making your own coconut milk makes a huge difference to the flavour as well if you can get a hold of fresh old coconut.

 How To Make Thai Sauce 

Thai sauce is an umami-bomb of salted and fermented anchovy can be overpowering on its own, but something very special happens with you combine it with lime juice and palm sugar. It's one of my go-to mixtures when you like something sweet-and-sour for most of your dishes.  The flavors will blend seamlessly into salad or meat. Or that's versatile enough to dress a salad, marinate a steak, and, yes, coat your dumplings.


How To Cook Pad Thai

Love pad Thai but don't know where to start? Then this recipe is for you! It's an authentic recipe from our Thai chef in Thailand. Pad Thai is one of the most universally popular stir fried noodle dishes in this whole wide world


Thai Cooking Classes

A visit to a Thai cooking school has become a must-do for many Thai chefs at home and for some visitors it is a highlight of their trip to Melbourne. A typical 3 hour course has an introduction to Thai ingredients and flavours, and a chance to prepare and cook three or four dishes. All lessons include a set of online recipes and end with a communal lunch consisting of your cooking.

Check out  Thai Cooking Class Master and Taste of Thai Cooking Class

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Thai Cooking Class Master

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Thai cooking classes showcase the amazing food of Thailand, stories of its people, culture and history. Join now...

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Vietnamese Pork Roll Demystified - Banh My Thit

There’s no question this city loves a good Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich - a weekly staple, it’s on almost everyone’s list of failsafe, on-the-go lunch options. 

Ever wanted to learn how to make your own at home? Join the good folks at OTAO kitchen for a hands-on workshop, where you’ll learn just how to create those crusty, French-inspired baguettes, and get the low-down on exactly how to whip up that tender, BBQ pork filling. 

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Making this beautiful salad for the summer. 



  • 200g chicken fillets
  • 2 cup of (Chinese or Ordinary cabbage) finely shredded
  • 1 carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup fresh Vietnamese mint, Thai Basil and Coriander
  • 1/2 cup Vietnamese dressing (mix well 1/2 table spoon of fish sauce, 1/2 table spoon of rice vinegar, 1/4 limes and 1 table spoon of sugar, 2 table of hot water, 1 garlic clove -chopped and 1 small chilli chopped)
  • 2 table spoons of roasted peanuts, chopped


  1. Make dressing: Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, chilli and sugar together in a jug until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Place chicken in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer, turning once, for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from pan. Chill. Shred.
  3. Place cabbage, carrot, mint, coriander and chicken in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with peanuts. Serve.

Cream Caramel



  • 8 medium sized eggs
  • 1L fresh mixture with cream and milk
  • 120g sugar
  • 400g sugar - caramel 
  • Vanilla beans (2)
  • 1 slice lime fruit



  1. Add 500 g sugar into pot with a 2 table spoon of water in a large thick bottom pot and cook until it turns yellow brown. Watch out.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat immediately and add lime juice into this syrup.Pour the syrup in to 10 ramekins quickly. Careful the syrup is very HOT.
  3. Add 10 egg yolks and 2 egg white with the rest of the sugar a large bowl and stir gently. Do Not create bubbles on top of mixture.
  4. Bring vanilla bean milk and cream just to the boil and remove from the heat. Pour slowly mixture egg and stir gently so no bubble on top. You can spoon the bubble after.
  5. Pour slowly mixture in the ramekins and careful place them in a steamers or tray with water bath. 
  6. Cook for 30-40 mins in the oven or steam for 10 mins


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Chinese New Year Prosperity Salad

To make the salad you will need over 20 ingredients and they are shredded white and green radish and carrots, ginger slices, onion slices, crushed peanuts, pomelo, pepper, essence of chicken, oil, salt, vinegar, sugar and more

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Make Homemade Ramen Noodles

Prep time 30 mins | Cook time 2 mins  | Total Time 32 mins | Skill Easy




  • 1 cup of flours
  • 15ml vegetable oil
  • 25ml water
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • pinch of baking soda and salt - optional




  1. Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add eggs and warm water.
  2. Mix well using couple of finger until all ingredients are moistened. You can start to kneed the mix until dough comes together. Once a dough ball has formed, continue to knead with for 2-3 minutes, until dough is smooth.
  3. Turn dough out on to a floured surface and shape into a rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 6 equal pieces on floured work surface and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Rub one piece all over with flour and run through a manual pasta machine or use a pastry roller to roll them out into thin sheet. Rest them for 5 mins.
  5. Use your cutting board to cut the sheets into small strips.
  6. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Cook noodles for 1 to 2 minutes in a generous amount of water or broth until cooked through. You can also freeze the noodles. They can be added to boiling liquid directly from the freezer and cook about 30 seconds longer than when fresh.
  7. Use noodles in your favorite soups or stir fry.
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Best of Melbourne Dumplings

Dumpling Party

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Seven Asian Desert You Must Try At Home

Vietnamese Coffee Icecream


Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams.

see recipe here 

Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream

Black sticky rice, which like wild rice is unhulled, makes a rustic rice pudding loaded with far more flavor and texture than usual. This version from chef Peerasri Montreeprasat at Sugar Club, a Thai grocery and cafe in New York, adds in cubes of nutty taro and is sweetened with palm sugar.

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Why Beans and Lentils Are The Best For Easy Meals?


We are researching for the best beans and lentil recipes. You can do Indian curries, Thai inspired lentils and beans salads.


For example, the cold lentil salad with cucumbers and olives is an amazing to try for dinner. This tasty dish has lentils, cucumbers, olives and mint tossed with a sherry vinaigrette.  


Another easy legume recipe with beans and lentil is lentil soups. You can make a pot of stew for your winter months. We really like the chicken lentil soup. It is easy and cheap! You may need some bacon, onion, celery, carrot, garlic and tomato purree. On the top of it you will need some chicken and chicken stock. To finish it off you might need to have some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.


Lastly you can try to make a one plate for your vegan meal. By having other ingredients mixing with beans and lentil you can get a fabulous lunch or dinner. We would love to tell you to make wild rice bowl with red lentil curry and spinach. This dishes is feature on the here The author thinks that it is simple to make even though a long list of ingredients. You can always cook some of the item as part of your last night dinner to cut down the time.

Cooking beans and lentils are the best for your weekday meals. It is not only a cheap meal but studies have shown that it can help you to improve longevity as it is in Japanese and Mediterranean people. Otao kitchen offer Asian inspired cooking classes and it would be easy to recreate a recipes from one of our recipe collection minus the meats.

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8 Sauces For Your Everyday Vietnamese Cooking

#1 Fish sauce – Nuoc Mam

Fish sauce is the “must have” Vietnamese sauce when cooking our food, bring flavour and some protein. Fish sauce is made from fermenting anchovies and sea salt over a period of 1-1.5 year in ceramic jars. Fish sauce makers can pass 2 times from the mixture to get the premium and the second.  There are 30+ fish sauce brand in Melbourne and the brand we use Nam Ngu or Phu Quoc.


#2 Hoi sin

You might have this Vietnamese sauce at home. Hoi sin sauce is a thick, sweet Chinese barbecue sauce. This sauce is made from salted black beans, onions and garlic. Vietnamese cooking included the use of Hoi sin sauce as a table condiment and as marinade for meat, poultry and shellfish dishes.


#3 Chilli sauce – Tuong Ot

Chilli sauce is made of fresh pimentos, ground garlic, salt, sugar and vinegar. Quite often it add colour to make them red. There are few Vietnamese  sauce varieties. You might need to find out what you like. We like the once has not too much strong flavour and less sugar. Chilli sauce is used as a table condiment and for soups like pho and or dipping sauce for seafood dishes.


#4 Shrimp paste – Mam Tom

This amazing smell Vietnamese sauce from Shrimp is widely used as a dipping sauce, soup condiments or marinade in Northern Cuisine. It is fermented shrimps either processed or conserved in bottles.


#5 Soy Sauce – Xi Dau or Nuoc Tuong

Soy sauce is condiment made from fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain, brine. After fermentation the past is pressed to produce a liquid which the the soy sauce and remove the solid product that often feed animal. Soy sauce is often used in Vietnamese sauces, cooking and condiments. It has umami taste and naturally with glutamates. Many varieties of soy with different qualities and prices. Stick to Kikkoman as a known product and often you can get from major Australian supermarkets.


#6 Sesame Oil – Dau Hao

Sesame oil is an vegetable oil pressed from sesame seeds. The oil from the nutrient rich sesame seeds and often use for traditional medicine and massage treatment for years. It is used in food as high Omega 6 fatty acids. Sesame oil does have high smoking point so it is suitable for deep fry. Sesame oil is used also in Vietnamese cooking for flavour enhancer in salad or stir fry. With left over oil from deepfry or cooking, be careful with nature antioxidants present in the oil, you will need to keep the lid tight. This is not a Vietnamese sauce but we do use them generously in sauce making.


#7 Rice Vinegar – Dam gao

Rice vinegar is fermented product made from rice or rice wine in many Asian countries. A special Vietnamese rice vinegar is the spicy and sour giấm bỗng made from a specialty rice. The most notable place to make this specialty is Lang Van – a commune near Hanoi. This vinegar is used in soup such as Duck, Bun Rieu and Bun Oc. A similar vinegar in the South Vietnam Hoc Mon, Saigon. This is call “me” kind of similar to the North. This specialty is used in making dipping sauces.


#8 Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is sauce made by cooking oysters. The most common in modern use is dark brown sauce made from sugar, salt and water thickened with cornstarch, flavoured with oyster essence and caramel. It is commonly used in Vietnamese foods to make sauce or marinade. 

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Banh Xeo Recipe (Vietnamese Pancake)

Banh Xeo Recipe:

Serves: 8 | Prep: 35 mins | Cook: 30 mins | Skill: Medium


1 and 2/3 cups rice flour

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 spring onion, thinly sliced, plus extra, to serve

1 tsp salt

2 cups water

1 cup coriander leaves, plus extra, to serve

1 cup shiso leaves* (perilla), plus extra, to serve

1 cup Vietnamese mint leaves, plus extra, to serve

2 red bird’s-eye chillies, thinly sliced, plus extra, to serve

2 carrots, thinly shredded

2 cups beans sprouts, trimmed

24 cooked prawns, cleaned, peeled with tails intact

chilli jam* and iceberg lettuce leaves (optional), to serve

vegetable oil, to cook

*Ingredients available from Asian Grocers and some specialty supermarkets



Combine rice flour, coconut cream, turmeric, spring onion and 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl with 500 ml (2 cups) water. Stir until a smooth batter forms. Cover and set aside to rest for 1 hour.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush with vegetable oil then add half a cup of batter, swirling pan to form a thin pancake.

Cook for 3 minutes or until just cooked through. Scatter half of the pancake with one-eighth of the herbs, chillies, carrot, bean sprouts and 3 prawns.

Flip the pancake in half to cover the filling and cook for a further 30 seconds to warm through, then remove with a spatula and place on a serving plate.

Repeat with remaining batter and filling ingredients. Serve with chilli jam, extra herbs, chilli, spring onion and lettuce, if desired.

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Best fish sauces

How best fish sauces are made? 

How best fish sauces made is simple. Fish sauce maker buy an anchovies from the fishing boats. Because of hot and humid weather in Southeast Asia, people learn to mix sea salt and fish to keep the fish in better condition or preserve them. They will be put into large vat and ferment for a long period – normally one year to three year. The resulting liquid, best fish sauces. It’s the backbone of many Asian cuisine. The Thai call it Nam Pla. The Vietnamese call it Nuoc Mam. The Philippines call it Patis. The Korean call it Aek Jeot. 

Fish fermentation had been a practice for several thousand years ago in the freshwaters of Southwest China and the Mekong River region. It then spread to coastal deltas and was applied to ocean fish to many countries in Asia. 

The best fish sauces should have:

Tastes of best fish sauces are pure fish and sea salt and Fish should be the dominate flavour and salt. Nothing else

Tastes of best fish sauces are with fish and the ocean, and not “fishy”

The color of best fish sauce should be a dark amber

Tastes of best fish sauces can be sweetened naturally not from sugar or other additives

Brands of best fish sauce in Australia

Red Boat 40°N and 50°N — Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Shrimp & Crab — Thailand

MegaChef (30°N) — Thailand

Golden Boy — Thailand

Three Crabs — Hong Kong/Thailand

Squid — Thailand

Blis — Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Next time you’re shopping I’d urge you to read the labels. Check the country of origin, it’s often not what’s represented in the design. But most importantly, check the ingredients. Ideally, you want: fish and salt.

Learn about the vibrant and aromatic ingredients that make up Asian cuisine. Using these ingredients, be guided step-by-step as you create a menu of amazing Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese and Bali recipes, hands-on, using the freshest locally-sourced ingredients.

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Best Vietnamese Dishes You Can Try On Victoria Street

#1 Pho

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup, where thin strips of beef are ‘cooked’ in a hot, aromatic stock in the serving bowl – this keeps the meat meltingly tender. ...

Check out I love pho

#2 Banh my

Only Asian country that the French brought with them in: the baguette. The Vietnam takes it to a different level depending whether you are in the South or the North. In the north, you will have the basic elements of bread, meat and sauces. In the south you will have colourful combination of cold meets, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh coriander, fresh chilli and hot chilli sauce.

Check out Banh My Nhu Lan

#3 Bun Cha Hanoi

Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle from Hanoi, Vietnam. Bún chả is served with grilled fatty pork over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce and pickles.


Check out Co Thu Quan


#4 Cha Gio - Fried Spring Rolls

Vietnam’s bite finger sized crunchy spring rolls is considered as less healthier fresh rice paper rolls, but we love those crispy shell with a soft veggie and seafood or meats. Great to dip them in nuoc cham and get the gastronomic flavour mixture. In Hanoi (north) we go by Nem Ran and in Saigon (south) we go by Cha Gio.

Check out Van Mai

#5 Bun Bo Hue - Hue Style Noodles

The emperor’s city of Hue (Central Vietnam) take on noodles caters to meat eaters with its meaty broth and generous beef and pork. The thick slippery rice noodles also compliment with the dish. You feel like hearty meal than white noodles in the Hanoi and Saigon.

Check out Co Co

#6 Goi Cuon - Fresh Rice Paper Rolls

These light and healthy fresh spring rolls are the best choice when you want the healthy foods in Melbourne. The translucent parcels are rolled with greens, some meat, seafood, mint, coriander. You can then dip them in the nuoc cham.

Check out Tho Tho

#7 Nom Hoa Chuoi - Banana Flower Salad

This Vietnam’s banana flower salad has a much bigger punch than a typical plate of mixed greens. Banana flowers’ layers are peeled and thinly sliced. The salad includes green papaya, carrots, mint and coriander along with tofu or chicken and a generous dipping sauce with lime juice and crunchy peanuts.

Check out Co Thu Quan

#8 Bo La Lot - Beef in Betel Leaf

Vietnamese are superior in wrapping their food. Bo la lot can be eaten raw, fried but when you cook them on an open grill to soften the exterior and this would infuse the betel leaf’s peppery aroma into the ground beef inside..

Check out Van mai

#9 Ca Tim Kho To - Eggplants in Claypot

One of more popular dishes is eggplant in a clay pot along with tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar and sometime minced meat. Try it with rice, you will like it as you will discover with Italian meat sauce.

Check out Van mai restaurant

#10 Com Suon Nuong - Pork Chops on Rice

You might think this simple Saigonese meal is equivalent of bun cha with rice in place of noodles. A tender pork cutlet is barbecued over hot coals to give it a rich, smoky flavour, some pickles or vegetable, cup of soup and laid over the steamed fluffy broken white rice.

Check out Ha Long


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7 best things why cooking Vietnamese Foods

Vietnamese food is admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil and an abundance of herbs and vegetables. Not only is Vietnamese cuisine bursting with amazing flavours, it is also very healthy. We pride ourselves on the quality of ingredients we provide you with and everything is sourced locally from within Victoria Street. OTAO is proud to support local business. We have a focus on fresh and exciting foods and flavours that we know you will fall in love with.

You will find that our classes and events offer you the best value for your time and money with the highest quality experience. But don’t take our word for it, here’s what our guests have to say:

OTAO Kitchen is a purpose-built Vietnamese cooking school located on Victoria Street, Richmond – Melbourne’s own little Saigon. Just minutes from the Melbourne CBD, Victoria Street is a hub of activity, sights and sounds. What better way to immerse yourself in an authentic Asian cooking experience!

We have hand-picked the best regional and popular Vietnamese recipes for you to create, which your chef will teach you to cook step-by-step during your cooking class. You will get to enjoy all the dishes you cook during the class, while sharing stories, travel adventures and good times.

Our cooking classes are delivered in a small and intimate group environment, ensuring you have plenty of one-on-one time with your chef and a supportive and enjoyable cooking experience. Our cooking classes are a wonderful way for you to meet like-minded foodies and new friends, and to learn healthy recipes and cooking skills. We provide you with all equipment, utensils and food ingredients so all you have to do is turn up!

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Cooking the Foods of Vietnam

Featuring a combination of five tastes or “ngũ vị” in the overall meal; each dish has a distinctive flavour which reflects one or more of five taste elements: Spicy (Metal), Sour (Wood), Bitter (Fire), Salty (Water) and Sweet (Earth).

Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, and fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chilli, lime, and basil.

Most dishes also include five nutrients (ngũ chất): powder (starch), water or liquid, mineral elements, protein and fat.

Our chefs also include five colours (Ngũ Sắc) of White (Metal), Green (Wood), Yellow (Earth), Red (Fire) and Black (Water) in their dishes.

Food of Vietnam appeal to gastronomes via the five senses (năm giác quan): The presentation attracts your eyes, crisp and crunchy vegetables create your sounds, five spices are detected on your tongue, aromatic herbs stimulate your nose, and the varying textures of the finger foods appeal to your sense of touch.

*This content uses material from the Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- Share-Alike License 3.0.
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Broth is new? What you know?



soup consisting of meat or vegetables cooked in stock, sometimes thickened with barley or other cereals.
"mutton broth"
meat or fish stock.
"the pig made five pots of broth"

a liquid medium containing proteins and other nutrients for the culture of bacteria.
"in vitro cultures were established in MG3 broth"




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