Authentic Vietnamese Ingredients - Chap 2

 

 

 

Authentic Vietnamese Ingredients

 

Coconut cream and Coconut milk

Coconut cream and Coconut milk

Coconut cream and Coconut milk are
used in many Vietnamese desserts.
While freshly pressed milk has more
flavor, coconut cream and milk are
now widely sold in cans and packets
that are quick, convenient and tasty. You
should add 1 cup of water to 1 cup of
canned or packet coconut cream to
obtain thick coconut milk, and add 2
cups of water to 1 cup of coconut cream
to obtain thin coconut milk. If you pre-
fer to use fresh coconuts, you will first
need to open the coconut by tapping
firmly on the center with the blunt end
of a cleaver until a crack appears. Drain
the juice and continue tapping until

the
coconut cracks into two. Place the
coconut halves in a moderate oven for
15 to 20 minutes until the flesh shrinks
away from the shell. Remove the meat
from the shell, use a vegetable peeler
to remove the outer brown skin, then
grate the flesh using a blender or food
processor. Fresh coconut cream is
made by grating the flesh of 1 coconut
(this will yield about 4 cups of grated
coconut flesh), adding 1/2 cup water,
kneading a few times, then straining
with your fist, or with a muslin cloth or
cheesecloth. This should yield about
1/2 cup of coconut cream. Thick coconut
milk is obtained by the same method,
but the water is doubled to 1 cup and
it should yield about 1 cup of thick
coconut milk. Thin coconut milk is
obtained by adding 1 cup of water to the already pressed coconut flesh a
second time and straining again, this
should yield 1 cup of thin coconut milk.
You may also obtain thin coconut milk
by diluting thick coconut milk with water.

 

Coriander leaves

Coriander leaves or cilantro are the
leaves of the coriander plant and are often referred to as Chinese parsley. In
Vietnam, coriander leaves are used
almost exclusively as a garnish. Fresh
coriander leaves should keep for 5 to 6
days in the refrigerator if you wash and
dry the leaves thoroughly before plac-
ing them in a plastic bag. Italian pars-
ley can be used as a substitute,
although the flavor is not at all the same.

 

Daikon radish

Daikon radish or long white radish is a
large white radish which can grow to a
length of 15 in (40 cm), with a diameter
of about 3 in (8 cm). It is normally eaten
raw in Southeast Asia, generally after
salting to remove some of the bitterness.
Choose firm, heavy and unblemished
daikons. Pickled daikon radish is yellow
or white in color, and sold vacuum-
packed and in jars.

 

 

Dried lotus seed

Dried lotus seeds are commonly used
as the salad ingredient and in desserts.
Most lotus seeds are sold with the bitter
central core or endosperm already
removed (if so, the seeds will have a
narrow slit on both sides). Sometimes,
there are a few rogues with the cores
still intact, so check and if you see a
dark greenish center at the top of the
seed, split it open and flick out the core.
Lotus seeds should be stored in an air-
tight container in the cupboard; they
keep for many months.

 

Dried rice paper

Dried rice paper wrappers are wrap-
pers made from a batter of rice flour water and salt, that are steamed and
dried in the sun on bamboo racks, which
leaves a crosshatched imprint. Used to
wrap a wide variety of spring rolls, dried
rice paper wrappers must be moistened
before using. Available in many Asian
food markets, they will keep for many
months if stored in a cool dark place

 

Dried shrimp

Dried shrimp are tiny, orange, saltwa-
ter shrimp that have been dried in the
sun. They come in different sizes and
the really small ones have their heads
and shells still attached. Available in
Asian markets, they should look orangy-
pink and plump; avoid any with a gray-
ish appearance or with an unpleasant
smell. Dried shrimp will keep for sever-
al months. Before using, dried shrimp
need to be soaked in warm water for 5
minutes to soften slightly.

 

Dried shrimp paste

Dried shrimp paste is a dense mixture
of fermented, ground shrimp found in
the markets throughout Vietnam and
other countries in Southeast Asia—sold
as solid bricks wrapped in paper or
plastic, or crumbled in jars, and rang-
ing from pink to blackish-brown in color.
It is used in small amounts, due to its
strong flavor, and should be roasted or
cooked before using. It may be roast-
ed directly over a low flame using
tongs for 30 seconds or heated in a
frying-pan, wrapped in aluminium foil
for 1 to 2 minutes. Alternatively it can
also be microwaved very quickly in a
bowl covered with plastic for 30 sec-
onds or so. Do not overcook the shrimp
paste or it will scorch, becoming bitter
and dried.

 

 



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