Authentic Vietnamese Ingredients - Chap 3

 

 

 

Authentic Vietnamese Ingredients

 

Fermented anchovy sauce

 

Fermented anchovy sauce is a blend
of fermented anchovies and salt normally sold in bottles. Readily available
in Vietnamese and Thai groceries, this
creamy and salty sauce that has a potent
fishy flavor is an essential ingredient in
Vietnamese Anchovy Dip (mam nem
cham). Canned fermented anchovies
or anchovy paste mixed with a little
water may be used as a substitut

e.

 

Fish sauce

Fish sauce is the ubiquitous
Vietnamese condiments used in
almost every dish, just as salt or soy
sauce are used in other cuisines. Made
from salted, fermented fish or shrimp,
it has a very pungent, salty flavor in its
pure form. Fish sauce is often combined
with other ingredients such as sugar,
garlic and lime juice to make the various
dipping sauces known as nuoc mam
cham. Use sparingly and always look
for a quality brand for a better flavor.
Refrigerate after opening.

 

Five spice powder

Five spice powder is a blend of fragrant,
sweet spices including cinnamon, star
anise, cloves, fennel seeds and Sichuan
peppercorns, this reddish-brown pow-
der is popular as a seasoning in
Chinese cuisine and some Thai and
Vietnamese dishes. Pre-packaged five
spice powder is available in Asian mar-
kets and well stocked supermarkets.
Five spice powder is generally used in
small amounts as it is a very strong
seasoning. To keep fresh as long as
possible, store in the refrigerator.

 

 

Galangal

Galangal is a fragrant root belonging
to the ginger family that is used jn much
the same way as ginger. Known as kha
in Thailand, laos in Indonesia and
lengkuas in Malaysia and Singapore, it
adds a distinctive fragrance and flavor
to many dishes. Though available dried
or as a powder, try to purchase the fresh
root, which has a richer flavor. Fresh
galangal should be peeled before using.
The young, pinkish galangal is the
most tender and imparts the best fla-
vor. Fresh galangal will keep for sever-
al months if stored in an airtight con-
tainer in the freezer.

 

Jackfruit

Jackfruit is a large, green fruit with a
tough, knobbly skin, which reveals a
yellow, segmented flesh when opened.
It has a taste that is naturally sweet. In
Vietnam, the young jackfruit is used like
a vegetable in cooking. Readily avail-
able fresh in Southeast Asia, the fruit
can be purchased canned in the West.

 

Lemongrass

Lemongrass, also known as citronella,
is an intensely fragrant stalk used to
impart a lemony flavor. The thick lower
part of the stem nearest the roots is the
edible portion. Discard the outer leaves
until you reach the inner core, which
should be moist and tender. When using
the stalk, bruise it before cooking and
after cooking, remove it from the dish
before serving. Lemongrass is readily
available fresh or frozen now in most
well-stocked supermarkets.

 

Loofah

Loofah is a type of gourd with a woody,
earthy flavor often used in Vietnamese
soups. Any type of squash may be
used as a substitute.

 

Lotus stems

Lotus stems are the graceful stems of
the lotus flowers which grow in ponds
and dense mud. They are a symbol of
purity. The thick roots are used as a
vegetable. The seeds are used fresh
(for sweet soup or Che), or dried (in
stews). The stems are stir-fried with
pork or shrimp, and are also used
fresh in salads.

 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are commonly used as one of the salad ingredients in Vietnamese
cuisine, providing texture to dishes. Delicate straw mushrooms are the most
commonly used fresh variety. Also popular in Vietnam are dried black Chinese
mushrooms (shiitake). Before using, soak dried black Chinese mushrooms
in hot water until soft, 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the thickness of
the cap, then squeeze out the moisture and cut out the hard stems.

 

 



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