Donal Skehan
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  • Street food at the bustling market in Sapa- this lady was selling spicy pigs ear salad... #DonalVietnam
  • Morning market shopping in Sapa! On the way to Hanoi... #DonalVietnam
  • BBQ Pork with ginger, turmeric, mint and toasted sesame seeds... #DonalVietnam
  • Just can't get over the stunning scenery here! Not bad for a Tuesday! #DonalVietnam
  • On the streets of Sapa making apple wine with apples grown by the Hmong tribe... #DonalVietnam
  • Sad to say goodbye to our fantastic Red Dao hosts for the past three days... Heading to Hanoi tomorrow to focus on street food! #DonalVietnam
  • The incredible dry store at the top of a Red Dao tribe house- here they store corn, rice and pumpkins through the winter. The kitchen is just underneath so the heat and smoke helps to dry the produce out... #DonalVietnam
  • Brilliant few days filming with the Red Dao tribe just outside Sapa! #DonalVietnam with @jonnyrocksville @lenocks...
  • Best experience of the day- a traditional herbal bath with herbs picked from the mountain and steeped in boiling water! It is used to soak the muscles after a hard day in the rice paddies! Nothing like taking a bath with a big group of strangers watching! :) #DonalVietnam
  • This little girl is eating sticky rice cooked in a bamboo shoot! The rice is stuffed into the hollow shoot and sealed with a banana leaf, then boiled until tender... Then the whole rice filled bamboo shoot is grilled over an open fire- it results in a chewy sweet rice cylinder with the most incredible texture! Really special! #DonalVietnam
  • The colourful and detailed clothing the women of the Red Dao tribe wear can take up to a year to embroider by hand... #DonalVietnam
  • Incredible day spent learning from and cooking with the Red Dao tribe in North West Vietnam- their are 5 different tribes in this area and each has their own language and distinctive traditional clothing... #DonalVietnam
  • View from my breakfast table! Stayed in Sa Pa last night high in the mountains, 1500 meters above sea level... Off to spend the day with a local Red Dao family to learn more about their traditions... #DonalVietnam
  • Have just eaten from this fairly intimating platter of mystery meat! You choose what you want from pig tongue, liver, heart and blood sausage and it gets boiled up and served with a fiery hot dipping sauce with chilli, meat broth, fish sauce and spring onions. Also interesting they eat it with potato noodles rather than rice noodles, in broth and mint... Swallow the fear, get in there and eat like the locals do! #DonalVietnam
  • Chicken for sale at Bac Ha market- incredible experience, like nothing else, have whiplash from everything I have to look at! #DonalVietnam
  • Flower Hmong tribe at Bac Ha market this morning selling fresh vegetables and sugar cane... #DonalVietnam
  • Great meal this evening! Finally in Sapa after the longest bus ride ever today 8am-11.30pm! Up early tomorrow morning to film at Bac Ha Market... #DonalVietnam
  • BBQ pork and pumpkin greens at the most rocking little restaurant in Sapa! #DonalVietnam
  • Wok fried lunch today! Lots of greens including Morning Glory or water spinach stir fried with pork fat and fish sauce... #DonalVietnam
  • Rice fields on the way up to Sapa... #DonalVietnam
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Roast Pumpkin, Coconut and Chilli Soup

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If you haven’t cooked with pumpkin before, this is a wonderful way to  start. Choose small pumpkins as they’re easier to tackle in the kitchen.  If you can’t find pumpkins, butternut squash is an ideal substitute.  The addition of coconut milk adds a wonderfully creamy and exotic  flavour, but if you don’t want to use it you could just make up the  difference with vegetable stock.

Serves 4-6
1kg of pumpkin, peeled and chopped into rough chunks
1 tablespoon of melted butter
2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
A few sprigs of thyme
2 red onions, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons of red chilli flakes
1 x 400g tin of coconut milk
1/2 litre of vegetable stock
Sea salt and ground black pepper

The Method

Preheat the oven to 220˚C.

While you prepare the pumpkin, scrape out the seeds, clean them in a colander with cold water and then dry the in a tea towel. Pop the seeds in a roasting tray tossed with a little melted butter and roast in the oven until toasted. Remove and set aside.

Tumble the pumpkin into a roasting tin with the thyme and toss in a little oil. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and pop in the oven to roast for 45 minutes or until the edges are slightly charred and  tender when pierced with a fork.

In a large pot, heat a drop of oil and fry the onions until they are soft. Stir through the chilli flakes and fry for a further minute.

Discard the thyme and add the roast pumpkin to the pot, along with the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Using a hand blender, whizz the soup until you have a velvety smooth consistency. You may need to add more stock or boiling water to get the right consistency. Add sea salt and ground black pepper and check the seasoning.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a sprinkle of chilli flakes and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

The Method


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Autumn Nesting and Sticky Maple, Apple and Cinnamon Cake!

After a few weeks traveling up and down the country for cookery demonstration we finally have some time to spend at home and I could not be happier!  It’s still not cold enough for jackets, hats and scarves but the dishes I’m cooking in the kitchen have definitely taken a turn towards warmth and comfort.  Soups, stews and roasts are back on the weeknight menu in a big way and I’m beginning to think they are some of my favourite types of dishes to cook.  I think secretly that many of us crave this sort of cooking throughout the year, especially with the sort of weather Ireland gets in the summer, but it’s only now when the days get darker that we can can wholeheartedly serve up steaming bowls of slow cooked deliciousness.

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Beef and Guinness Pie

The Method


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Big Ball Of Autumn Fun…

So I admit it, after all my complaining about the summer coming to and end, I have finally embraced the autumn! I’ve been out picking blackberries, baking up a storm with lots of autumnal ingredients and best of all, I’ve been making soup. One of the biggest lessons you learn when you cook a lot is to understand the seasonality of produce. As a home cook, learning to buy fruits and vegetables which are in season is not only ultimately satisfying but you also get the pick of the crop! At the moment there is so much in season to get excited about; wild mushrooms, blackberries, apples, elderberries are just some of the key ingredients you should try to make the best of over the next few weeks.

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Creamy Colcannon Mash

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Colcannon is as traditional, as traditional Irish food gets, and for the week that's in it, when the whole world will be going green in our honour, what better thing to do, than serve up some of the finest! I told my granddad I was making this the other day and no sooner was it out of my mouth than he had burst into song. The dish of course, is the inspiration behind the traditional Irish song by the same name, "Oh weren't them the happy days when troubles we knew not and our mother made colcannon in the little skillet pot". This recipe is the one I grew up with, but if you want to experiment, you could also stir in a little bit of wholegrain mustard to add an extra bite to it!

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Crispy Hasselback Potatoes

I came across the recipe for Hasselback potatoes when I was younger and they are so visually appealing that I had to make them. The traditional recipe, originally from Stockholm, calls for breadcrumbs and cheese, but I have tried to make it as simple as possible for this recipe. The potatoes go nicely alongside most dishes. If your potato slices don’t separate while cooking, increase your heat and you should get better results.

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