Southern region’s specialties: From familiar dishes become new dishes

Thứ sáu, 20/06/2014 15:08

As the Golden Spoon contest was taken place the first time in Rach Gia there are many unique dishes of chefs from Southern region were discovered

When seeing 60 dishes presented and served in the Home taste festival you realized that how abundant all the dishes coming from Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Kien Giang, Can Tho and An Giang.

Most of the dishes made of seafood and rustic ingredients which are very new and strange. In addition there were also famous dish that have typical characters of the country-side. Especially diners also could enjoy all complicated cooking skills as well as listen to stories telling about the food origin and ordinary extraordinary business philosophies of chefs.

Authentic herring fish dish

Have a bite of the rolls with herring fish inside and some other leaves such as Black currant leaves, Costus speciosus leaves, raw banana, perilla, pipeapple, star fruit… you can feel the taste of ocean with a combination of sweetness, sour, acrid and fatty from wild vegetables.

If you search on google you will see there are about 25,000 dishes about Herring salad in Rach Gia. However not many people know that this dish has a strange journey which is about the woman who is the one who brought this dish first come to Rach Gia- Ms Ngoc Mong Ho (Ngoc Ha restaurant)

This little lady moved from Ha Tien to Rach Gia three years ago. If she stayed at her hometown then her life would have another scenario which must be easier because her famous salad with herring fish become a popular branding at her hometown which isn’t less than 10 years old. Besides that she also can be near her husband and children.

But she decided to move to Rach Gia with her dream is to look for a new opportunity with her dish. It took her almost three months to find a place as well as promote her dish in this ocean city.

Her shop is located in the Lam Quang Ky St and she managed everything by herself to open the shop from the small things like looking for some helpers to hang on the name board to arrange tables as well as go to the harbor to look for the first herrings.

There were some days she could sleep only four to five hours. Lying on the chair but her mind was just concerned about the dish. From the beginning, although she tried to make the dish as good as possible with her ten years of experience but customers still didn’t make any order.

She realized that diners in this location don’t have habit of having raw fish especially herring fish is a common fish in the West coast. So she has to do marketing by promoting a free small dish of this salad to any customer who comes to her shop. She said everyone can try it and if they like it then order it later more.

So this idea finally did work because not long after that this dish convinced customers and it becomes a common dish that everyone order every time they come to her shop.

Before she could sell only 3kg per day but now she could sell up to 30kg and she needs up to 30 staffs to help her to run the shop.

Telling about her business secret she honestly shared that it is important to select the fish that really fresh and to be able to do that you have to go there very early in the morning and create a relationship with suppliers. We have to clean the fish’s belly and sometimes use lemon juice to eliminate the fishy smell. The important spice is vegetables and fish sauce which is specialty of Phu Quoc and can’t miss chili, garlic and peanuts. Fish can be mixed with spices, herbs or leave them separated to roll with rice paper.

She told me that the shop is successful thanks to her husband support because the menu with more than ten dishes and every time the ingredients run out she asked her husband to go to Ba Hon beach to gather the fish and send urgently to Rach Gia.

The business is getting more developed so she is less worried of taking care of her son going to Polytechnic University in HCM City.

Until now there are more than 20 shops running the same business and instead of worrying the competition she said it is good because she did success in promoting this new and delicious dish.

She is confident with her business philosophy: “With each table and customer we have to serve them as we are their daughter-in-law. As long as the dish is delicious and the service is good then customer always come back to your shop” That is also the reason that she is successful with this special dish.

Every time customer order the dish she felt each time as a contest to her

the first prize in the preliminary round of the Golden Spoon contest in Rach Gia is Mr Pham Buu Viet who admitted that he isn’t a chef that haven’t completed any official cooking class.

Cooking skills as well as talent of this 58 years old man was pushed by the competition of thousand dishes from all restaurant and shop in Mekong Delta region.

In order to satisfy diners who experience in foods he has to create his own unique dishes. Instead of running after a specific trend he invested his time and efforts to modify and renew rustic dishes.

He came to the Golden Spoon contest to watch and learn with a little bit less confidence although the hotpot with freshwater crab won the first prize in the Home taste festival one week ago.

But when he started to cook he becomes a different person. A man who is wearing a glasses and very strict to himself in detailed work such as pugging the clay, carving with sharp movement in the way he using the knife.

While slowly peeling off lotus leave of the grilled dish in front of everyone who was spending high attention to his movement he was telling everyone about the idea of the dish and how to do it.

The baked duck rolled by lotus leave and clay has its origin from a poor class in society and have the taste of the people working in the farm. It is delicious because of its simple, rustic, honesty and from poor family.

The grilled duck after taking off the lotus leave have a strange aroma which comes from coriander and spices.

Mr Viet shared that he will save much time if he rolls the duck by the silver paper but doing that will eliminate the unique smell from the lotus leave. He can replace the lotus leave by melon leaves or banana leaves.

Nowadays everyone has different perception about the food taste so the duck couldn’t be grilled naturally like before but need to add some spices and coriander to the duck before grilling. Then you can grill it for 30 to 45 minutes on either gas stove or coal stove or charcoal….until the clay cracked then it will be ready to serve.

If you want to have the dish delicious you should choose Bombay duck because it has a lot of meat and easy to clean (the female duck over 2kg per one, the male duck 3kg per one) although the authentic one should be the wild duck which is smaller.

To eliminate the fishy smell we can use ginger and whisky. The duck is served with sticky rice, the original spices is a mixture of salt and pepper with lemon.

The chef talked to us with an original accent of Mekong Delta people: “I am just better than others in taking care of the dish and invest time to think of new way of cooking to make rustic dishes become more suitable to the new taste of everyone recently. Before foods should be presented full of table to address the hospitality of Mekong Delta people as a traditional but now all dishes should be taken care in its presentation so that they should be looked beautifully as diners prefer.

Looking at the way he takes care of the dish by adding the meat or each glory morning vegetable into the crab hotpot or carefully clean up each feather on the duck. We asked diners that normally come to his restaurant that if Mr Viet only do this when he attend the contest?

It turned out that this chef take into account every time he cooks the dish to diners and he loves challenges as well as enjoy the time he stays in his world with pot and pan.

There are still many delicious dishes from Mekong Delta in the contest with many attractive names: massage pork, wild chicken cooked with Hyacinth Bean

All of these created special features for the foods festival of the Golden Spoon contest in Mekong Delta

The first 6 teams enter the semi-final round of the Golden Spoon contest

The preliminary round of the Golden Spoon of the Mekong Delta region were taken place in Can Tho and Rach Gia cities (Kien Giang) attracted 24 teams and the organzers selected 6 teams to enter the semi-final round.

Accordingly the preliminary round in the second cluster was taken place in Rach Gia on June 4th attracted 11 teams coming from Can Tho, An Giang, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Kien Giang.

River Cuisine team (Can Tho) won the first prize with dishes: deep fried shrimp with brown rice powder, vegetable soup with freshwater crab, baked duck rolled by lotus leave and clay, banana and ginger candy- tea made of annona

Before that in the preliminary round taken place on May 21st in Can Tho city with 13 teams attended and the An Hoa restaurant (Ben Tre) won the first prize excellently.

So there were 6 teams entered to the semi-final round after attending the preliminary round which are: River cuisine team (Can Tho), An Hoa restaurant (Ben Tre), Nam Nho restaurant (Kien Giang), Ben Da hotel, Nui Sam (An Giang), Van Phat Fortuneland hotel (Can Tho), Saigon Beer Club (Dong Thap)

The preliminary round in the Southeast region will be taken place on June 18th in Binh Duong

The Golden Spoon contest is organized and financed by Ly's Horeca brand under the Minh Long I Co.Ltd and under the auspices of the Vietnam General Department of Tourism and Vietnam Industry and Trade department. The total prize value is over VND 3 billion.

Followed by The Gioi Tiep Thi Magazine

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