A Main Fruit Dish

Thứ sáu, 27/06/2014 11:12

Grapefruit spring rolls, grapefruit spring rolls with deep fried crayfish, deep fried grapefruit skin, mangosteen salad, seafood soup with dragon fruit flowers, grilled chicken with durian, cod fish steamed and served with custard apple sauce.

These are new and unusual dishes that the chefs brought to the Golden Spoon Contest in the Southeast region, held on June 17-18th in Binh Duong province.

region saw the number of registered chefs exceed the normal quota; almost 100 chefs with more than 110 selected carefully dishes. Most of this food followed or used local ingredients to their own advantage. These special fruits were selected to create unique dishes to represent each region.

New flavours with fruit dishes

Usually grapefruit, mangosteen or dragon fruit are presented on party tables as appetizers or desserts but now there are 23 main dishes created with these fruits.

Bưởi ổi”- literally means grapefruit guava, describing their size, and “Bưởi cam đường”- is also as small and sweet as an orange. These two specific kinds of oranges are from Tan Trieu- Dong Nai province and are considered a famous specialty. Their unique qualities helped Thao Ngoan restaurant won the prize. Using them as key ingredients, Thao Ngoan’s team prepared Tan Trieu grapefruit and created a really flavorsome dish..

Grapefruit rolls with deep fried shrimp had grapefruit peel in the middle and used fresh rice paper made of “Gấc” fruit and taro to roll crayfish from Tan Mai River. .

The fish sauce is reduced and draws flavor from sugar cane juice grown around Tri An lake. The chefs also served white grapefruit peel with this dish instead of shrimp snacks or grilled rice paper.

This new creation can be eaten with chopsticks or just by hand. It differs from traditional grapefruit salad which is normally eaten by spoon.

Once again Golden Lotus’s chefs made the grapefruit rolls with anchovy, is considered to be one of the most famous dishes from the Tri An Lake area.

Chef Hung Van Nguyen(Dong Nai hotel) shared his secret of using grapefruit peel in the spring roll dish. This brought a new twist, a unique flavor and a mixture of textures, crunchy and very light.

Chef Thoai Chinh Nguyen from the Rex hotel (Vung Tau) prepared shrimp roasted with coconut juice.

Considered as one of the best 50 food items in Vietnam, Lai Thieu mangosteen created a good impression when presented on the party table. An anonymous taster said: “What a seafood and mangosteen salad! Diners could never walk away from it”

That is the reason why the mangosteen salad with lobster is on the menu of chefs working at Palm Golf Song Be resort. Chefs of Ngoc Lan Vien restaurant made other unique dishes such as mangosteen salad with shrimp and pork and mangosteen jelly. The chefs at the Rex Hotel made mangosteen salad with squid.

Coming from Binh Thuan province, chefs brought their special dishes make of dragon fruit with local seafood from Phan Thiet and of course they can’t forget the salamanders.

However the dragon fruit is still the main ingredient on the menu, with special dishes such as: salad of dragon fruit with dried sun-dried squid; soup of crab meat and dragon fruit; red and white dragon fruit jelly; raw spring rolls with dragon fruit, shrimp and pork; seafood curry with dragon fruit; sauteed chicken thigh with dragon fruit sauce; and agar-agar with dragon fruit.

One of them is the soup made of crab meat, shrimp and dragon fruit flowers. The chefs from the Poshanu resort selected crabs and shrimps then mixed the crab meat with the shrimps and ground them. The dragon fruit flowers were then well rinse to remove any viscosity, before cooking.

Chef Lieu Thi Thu Truong shared that many tourists were impressed by dishes made of dragon fruit. They were interested because dragon fruit is only normally used for desserts or juice. The fruit is very viscous so it has to go through many stages to be suitable as a main dish. After much experimentation, she finally found the way to eliminate that, by using lemon. She also makes dragon fruit candy and jam, which was a new flavor for many tourists.

Commercialized rustic dishes

The Golden Spoon contest organized and financed by Ly’s Horeca and Minh Long I under the auspices of the General Department of Tourism of Vietnam and prevention of Industry and Trade of Vietnam. After the preliminary round there are 14 teams selected to enter the semi-final round. By using fruits as main ingredients to make unique dishes so there are 8 teams from Southeast cluster selected to the next round.

Food experts and artisans seemed very happy and satisfied with the new creations that all the chefs explored. The price of all fruit has making them worthy of consideration when preparing main dishes.

This was also mentioned in the Forum “Vietnam cuisine essence” which took place on June 17th and attracted more than 200 guests. These were not only chefs but also local authorities from the Southeast provinces.

They appreciate the new creations and the discovery of new rustic dishes, but expressed a concern for how to make these dishes more popular.

Food expert Suong Thi Bui thought that there was still lack of programs like Golden Spoon program, searching for and studying delicious dishes.

She gave the example of blown fried sticky rice. This dish originates from Dong Nai but hasn’t been promoted enough for it is better known.

According to her, when chefs invested their time and effort searching for and studying these dishes, then it is necessary to have more programs promoting them. In other countries this is normally charged by Food Research Institutions. “They not only have responsibilities in searching for and gaining statistics on dishes and spices, but also organize PR events to promote and build brands for these food items. It then becomes easier to cross borders and reach out to other countries” said Mrs Suong Thi Bui.

She told a story about about lemon leaf from her last trip to Belgium, where she attended a food festival. Although only a leaf Thailand still manages to export it and it’s available in super-market as far away as Belgium.

Speaking after Mrs Suong Thi Bui, food expert Choi Thi Trieu said that besides delicious fruit on the menu created by the chefs, there is another interesting point in that there are many wild vegetables and fruits available, this is advantageous for Vietnam. She said “I was impressed by dishes made from Moringa leaves, Annona reticulate fruit and “trái cù lần” fruit. On the party table, the dishes were not only presented beautifully on the ceramic products, but there were also branches of fruit trees used to decorate the table in an impressive manner. These are very innovative ideas and we should research more about it to find out new techniques and explore other potential values of such fruit and their trees”

Minh Ngoc Ly, general director of Minh Long I gave his opinion based on personal experience: "Foreign guests, when they come to Vietnam, often only know two dishes, pho and spring rolls, but Vietnam has many nutritious and delectable food. Vietnamese cuisine lacks interesting, compelling stories that can be incorporated into dishes that are typical for each region or province" .

He expected the Golden Spoon Contest, with its delicious and nutritious dishes will become a connection between cuisine culture and the culinary food industry to support exports and tourism development. It is because all visitors always want to try good local dishes from places that they visit.

“With the abundance of ingredients and the geographic characters of each region together with the skills of our chefs we will have dishes that represent each region and area. This is one of the effective ways to introduce visitors and tourists to Vietnam cuisine, through the concept of culinary tours through the regions” commented Mr Minh

Some dishes made of fruits

Rolls with grapefruit and anchovy: main ingredients are grapefruit, anchovy, pork, coconut, coriander, white sesame, chili. Those ingredients are just rolled in thin rice paper. The fresh taste of grapefruit is mixed with the sweetness of pork as well as the sweet and sour taste of anchovy which makes the dish really delicious, unique and nutritious.

Salad with mangosteen and squid: this salad has individual characters that stood up cleverly in the way the ingredients combined to make the dish tasty and maintain good nutritional values. The main ingredients are mangosteen and squid. Spices are coriander, salt, sugar, pepper, fish sauce, garlic and chili chopped into small pieces. Just mix all of these ingredients and it is ready to eat. However if it is left too long in the sauce the mangosteen will go soft and the mangosteen will lose its crispy texture.

Soup with white crabmeat, shrimp and dragon fruit flowers: it is necessary to select crabs that are still alive with two pincers the same size, clean them, cut the pincers then separate them. Take out all the meat and season it. Shrimp also should be alive, peel off their skin and throw away the head then grind them together with the crab. Dragon fruits should be in flower for 7 days, then the flowers will still be fresh and crunchy. Flowers should be picked up in the early morning so not to be affected by the weather. They should be boiled then washed repeatedly in cold water to lose the viscosity. Only the stem of the flower is used.

Followed by Nguyen Trang
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