Thursday, June 13, 2024

What’s cooking with MasterChef contestant Sieumuoi Hancock?

It was Sieumuoi Hancock’s love for feeding people, along with her husband’s power of persuasion that led her to apply as a contestant for MasterChef New Zealand, 2022. After several interviews and a tight screening process, the NorthPark resident couldn’t believe when she was selected from thousands all over the country.

Having grown up watching her parents who established several French Cambodian bakeries, Sieumuoi says that by the time she was five she was sitting on the kitchen benchtop dipping doughnuts in cream, and at 10 years of age, she was an ace at piping cakes.

The skilled MasterChef contestant, with an entrepreneurial streak, shares some of her quick and easy recipes with EastLife. Bon appetit!

Vietnamese Rice Paper Fried Spring Rolls (Cha Gio) (GF)

I love Vietnamese spring rolls. They are crispy and a little chewy on the outside with a tasty pork, wood ear mushrooms and bean vermicelli inside. I remember growing up eating this as a little kid all the time. My mum would make different variations with the filling, especially back in the early 80s when it was harder to obtain some of the ingredients. However, these days all the local supermarkets have an extensive range of Asian ingredients. Give it a go.

  • 400g pork mince
  • 50g mung bean noodles (soaked in boiling water for
  • 4 minutes then drained)
  • 2 carrots finely grated
  • 1/3 cup of wood ear mushrooms (rehydrate in water for 5 mins, chopped finely)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 20 dried large round rice papers
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Fresh lettuce and mixed fresh herbs – mint, Thai basil, coriander and/or perilla leaves
  • Nouc Cham sauce
  • 3 Tbsp palm sugar
  • 4 Tbsp hot water
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp red chilli

Sauce: Dissolve the sugar in water then add the remaining ingredients and adjust to your liking. I add some toasted crushed peanuts, finely grated carrots and chopped coriander to the dipping sauce just before serving. 

Fried spring roll: Combine all the filling ingredients together (except rice paper) and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To prepare the wrapper  – add 1 tsp sugar to a bowl of warm water (this trick will help achieve a more golden wrapper). Slide wrapper into the water for approximately 30 seconds. The wrapper will still be firm but will soften quite quickly. Place a log of filling on the wrapper and fold in the two sides and roll tightly into a log.  Repeat for the remaining filling. 

Chill for an hour to let the wrapper dry out a bit before frying in 170°c oil for 5 minutes. To achieve an extra crispy wrapper, I double fry for a second time for another 2 minutes to get a great crunchy spring roll. 

Spring rolls are ready to serve wrapped in lettuce and herbs dipped in the nuoc cham sauce. 

Rice Vermicelli Noodle Salad with Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Bun Cha Cha Gio) (GF)

When I’m making Vietnamese fried spring rolls, I like to have it as a salad also. It’s a light, tasty meal, and gluten free. The crispy spring roll pairs nicely with the soft rice vermicelli and fresh herbs. The nouc nam sauce mixed in gives it a lovely sweet, sour, and spicy kick.
I have all the ingredients ready, and everyone just builds their own bowl. Super quick and easy.


  • Rice vermicelli
  • Fresh herbs – mint, Thai basil, spring onion, coriander and/or perilla leaves.
  • Lettuce
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Grated carrots
  • Nouc Cham dressing
  • Toasted crushed peanuts
  • Vietnamese Rice Paper Fried Spring Rolls chopped up


Cook the noodles in boiling water. They start off hard and translucent and will turn white and soft once cooked. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking further.

Assemble the noodles in a bowl with salad, herbs, and spring rolls. Toss in nouc cham dressing before serving.

Sieumuoi’s Chocolate and almond torte with drops of chocolate ganache (GF)

This cake is super moist, light and gluten free. This is always a favourite with my two kids. My eldest, 12-year-old daughter recently learnt how to make it all by herself so I have full confidence you can too.



  • 200g butter chopped
  • 180g dark chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1 shot espresso or
  • (1/4 cup boiling water and 1 tsp instant coffee)
  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 4 eggs separated
  • 1 cup sugar


  • 150ml cream
  • 300g dark chocolate


Ganache: Bring cream to a gentle boil. Pour on top of the dark chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes then stir until glossy. Put it aside to cool and thicken.

Torte: Gently melt butter, chocolate, cocoa, and coffee in a saucepan until combined. Mix in the ground almonds and set aside.

Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Put aside.

Whisk egg yolk and sugar for 5 minutes until thick.

Fold chocolate mixture with the egg yolk and once combined, fold in the egg whites.

Pour into a 22cm lined round tin. Bake at 160°c for 40-45 minutes.

Once cake has cooled, serve with a dollop of chocolate ganache and whipped cream.

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