To wing up Vietnamese taste

Chủ nhật, 20/11/2016 09:27

From the two semi-final rounds (northern and southern) of The Golden Spoon Contest 2016, it’s confident to say that our chefs absolutely can elevate rustic dishes and tradition ingredients up on the world culinary map.

Chefs reveled in creation.

Vietnamese taste affirmation

In the northern semi-final round of The Golden Spoon Contest 2016, Indochine Palace Hue team brought a casual yet elaborate dish: luffa (Luffa aegyptiaca) and wild maracuji (Passiflora foetida) soup.

Those are humble and acquainted vegetables with most of people in the Middle of Vietnam. “Wild maracuji has different usages. In many countries, people have used this leaf as a type of sedative to support heart rate and anti-insomnia. To complete the dish and make an integration with international cuisine, we have created a resonance between Vietnamese traditional dish – luffa soup – and European shrimp cake”, presented chef Tran Huy Cuong.

The broth of this soup was from boiling luffa and wild maracuji leaves to medium-cooked to preserve the leafy color. Wild shrimps caught in Tam Giang lagoon would be sautéed to serve together.

Shrimp cake was made from grinded fresh shrimps, egg whites, and seasonings (black pepper and hot pepper) then steamed until cooked.

Ly Son oyster salad, served with New Zealand lobsters and Ly Son sea-cucumber.

“The important tip to cook this dish is to control cooking level of ingredients to retain their freshness and leafy color – the color should be natural green, the taste should be transparently sweet from luffa and wild maracuji leaves, and shrimp cake should be enough tender.

The resonant sweetness between shrimps and whipping cream creates a fresh and delightful taste. Even though it’s just a casual, regional soup, we still can elevate it to a national contest by our creative and delicate cooking method”, said chef Cuong.

With the same spirit of renovating traditional Vietnamese food, Muong Thanh Lao Cai hotel team surprised everybody by its creative dish: Ca Ra crabs with water spinach (Ipomoea aquatic). Ca Ra is a wild river crab and highly sweet. They naturally live in Cau river, Thuong river, and Luc Nam river (Bac Giang province) and have the peak season from September to October, when they are so meaty and flavorful.

First, Ca Ra crabs would be smashed, filtered then boiled to collect “gach” – the protein agglutinating together. This plague was well mixed with smashed black tiger prawn, pork paste, and a handful pepper and Welsh onions. This paste was stuffed back into crab shells, boiled in a pot until cooked then drop chopped water spinach in. The broth would have yellowish color of crab eggs.

“To have a qualified soup, crabs must be smashed, not grinded, to eliminate flesh and eggs. Therefore we can distinguish the flesh and the eggs combined into a flavorful bite.”, said chef Lien.

Sweetie Strawberries.

Fading Ingredients

In The Golden Spoon last season, Binh Quoi 1 Resort claimed its reputation by winning a double-1st-prize, which was in Ho Chi Minh city preliminary and southern semi-final. This season, the history has just repeated. What is so special in the menus of chef Le Vo Anh Duy this year?

Truc Linh vegetables is believed to help reduce motion sickness and to support body’s health. Chef Anh Duy rolled them by thin slices of calf shank, which is so tender and enough crunchy, and bathed those rolls in hot wild black pepper sauce.

In Middle scanty countryside, Truc Linh vegetable grows all over the place like pennywort or rau den (amaranth) but it really inspired this talented chef.

Thao qua (Amomum tsaoko).

Truc Linh vegetable is much crunchier when soaked in ice water. In farm markets, this vegetable has been popularly sold but not in southern areas. This rustic ingredient and hot buttery pepper sauce did overthrow the jury since the first taste.

Tam That flowers (Panax pseudoginseng).

The old southwest people have not stopped thinking of their fading regional ingredients, such as Hu Thom root or Mo Qua flowers (Dischidia major). However, there are always gourmets who try to tame those delicacies at home.

Mo Qua tree just strongly grows in uncultivated grassy soil. In order to tame them, people have to gather many of them in that specific area and wait till its season.

Mo Qua fruits only bear in the end of autumn, meaning nobody can have them at the southern semi-final round of The Golden Spoon 2016. Therefore, chef Nhi (Nhi Restaurant – Can Tho province) decided to use Mo Qua flowers instead.

Mo Qua flowers, which is considered as liver supporter, and crunchy and tasty Hu Khom root were mixed with shredded grilled wild blotched snakehead (Channa maculate) to become a wake-up call to every sense. Elite Artist and Guest judge Kim Xuan gave comment that they tasted even sweeter than termite mushroom (Macrolepiota albuminosa). This was just a great discovery of chef Nhi.

Dan oranges.

Do not underestimate sauces

Rolled Coffer-fish (Ostraciidae) with sponge gourd leaves in pink guava sauce wowed all foreign judges because it was too stimulating to take.

Mr. Sakal Phoeung, Chairman of Escoffier Viet Nam, commented “Impressive taste! Must have a very good skill to retain this original taste during cooking process.”

Furthermore, there were wild syrup fruit sauce - which had a transparent and mild sour taste - served with rolled beef marrow in lard and baked beef with vegetable, vinegar leaf sauce served with Thun Mun leaves and avocado saad, moringa leaf sauce, Xoan orange sauce, and gamboge sauce.

Young bitter melon stuffed frog paste.

Nganh leaves (Cratoxylum cochinchinense) grow mostly in Middle Highlands and have a sour taste. We can make a sour sauce out of it without using limes or vinegar, adding chopped green onions and Ngo Gai leaves then carefully sweetening the sauce by Jaggery just enough to keep that unique sour taste.

In similarity, instead of grilling, lobsters were boiled with Nganh leaves in coconut juice then sautéed. The differences among sauces were from various cooking method to create the best yet exotic tastes for dishes.

The more we have gone, the more Vietnamese chefs’ creativity was discovered. Unlimited and bold inventions have dragged the jury into the world of spices, in which each door opens to a great sauce.

Modern styled Muscovy duck curry.

People who caress flavors, both amateurs and experts, are the one putting their mind at cooking, the one understanding that each dish is a world of spices.

Judge Trieu Thi Choi said that there were many familiar spices that have not used in professional menu, such as pepper leaves or papaya seeds. However, skillful hands of chefs brought them to life in nutritious dishes, which absolutely can be on the same level of Vietnamese cuisine.

By Nhu Binh/ Tuoi tre news

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