Vietnamese spices – A polyphonic concert

Thứ ba, 13/12/2016 11:45

“Chef of the Century” Eckart Witzigmann had an impressive look at Vietnamese spices and he stated that they were a whole harmonic blend of multi-flavors and regional features.

The Golden Spoon 2016 final round, which took place on Dec 6th – 7th in HCMC, appeared Mr. Eckart Witzigmann (on the right) as a professional judge, who is one of the most famous chefs in the world. This Austrian food expert was honored by noble Gault et Millau restaurant as “Chef of the Century” in 1994 and he is one of the two chefs in the world to be rewarded 3-star Michelin in 1979. During the final tasks of The Golden Spoon candidates, he stated that Vietnamese spices had gathered all tones and hues of culinary world in which each spicy leaf or seasoning had its own distinguished flavor.

Eckart Witzigmann was so excited when he had known that Vietnamese spices were used not only to enrich food but also to tell stories of folk culture about where and how they came from. An accurate combination can stimulate all senses and boost diners’ feeling up. However, “Chef of the Century” recommended that to elevate Vietnamese cuisine to international level, these unique spices needed appropriate balance to match modern trends.

About Vietnamese chefs, Mr. Eckart Witzigmann thought that they all had solid background, skills, diligence, and creativity but if they wanted to make a step up, they would need opportunities to approach bigger pictures of culinary world and also to learn from other great chefs in the world.

The skills and creativity that Mr. Eckart Witzigmann mentioned above were clearly showed on the work of chef Le Vo Anh Duy from Binh Quoi 1 resort (HCMC). He brought diverse spices from different regions into the dishes.

This was the 4th time straight this chef attending The Golden Spoon contest. He said that the appetizer was very important because it first led diners to the meal. Therefore, the sauce of appetizer was carefully made to provide the tastiest first bite.

Chef Anh Duy’s appetizer was Salmon rolled wild leaves in roasted sesame and peanut sauce. This sauce was made from Vietnamese soy sauce, white sesame, peanut, and Northwest Doi seeds. Side dish was shrimp paste and pineapple fish sauce in which shrimp paste was kneaded with shitake mushroom, lemongrass seeds and Mac Khen seeds then steamed to well done while a slice of pineapple was grilled and smashed to mix with fish sauce.

The main course was Grilled duck breast in Moringa sauce and served with egg plant salad, Moc Mat leaves (Clausena indica) in purple yam cake, and So Cho leaves in duck shank paste. Duck breast is quite fatty so chef Anh Duy made a sauce from moringa leaves, dill, green onions, mint, and Ngo Gai to balance the taste. It is a common sauce that Northwest locals often have in spring festival.

From the north, chef Anh Duy brought us back to the south, Ba Tri town, An Giang province, where has famous Vam Nao catfish (Pangasius krempfi) and kaffir lime leaves. Skin and bones of catfish were deep-fried with shrimp heads then added rice wine, tomato, and kaffir lime leaves. The broth was slow cooked from this stuff and filtered. Kaffir lime leaves reduce fishy smell but emphasized catfish flavor while white button mushroom was added to enrich the whole dish.

Finally, the dessert was a jelly-like combination of aloe vera and pomelo segments and fruity sweet-rice cake, which was made from Northwest sweet-rice and fresh fruits (mangoes, oranges, and strawberries).

This diverse menu seized the championship to chef Anh Duy in The Golden Spoon contest 2016, together with the noble Chef Cup and 1 billion vnd reward.

By Minh Tri/VnExpress

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