Authentic Vietnamese Ingredients - Chap 5

 

 

 

Authentic Vietnamese Ingredients

 

 

Rice vinegar

Rice vinegar is mild and faintly fragrant,
and is the preferred vinegar throughout
Southeast Asia. Inexpensive brands
from China are readily available in the
West (as well as in Southeast Asia). If
buying a Japanese rice vinegar, make
sure you do not buy what is labeled
“sushi vinegar” as this has sweet rice
wine, sugar and salt added. If you can-
not obtain rice vinegar, use distilled
white vinegar.

 

 

Rice wine

Rice wine is fermented from freshly
steamed glutinous rice and has a relatively low alcoholic content. Widely used
in Asian cooking, rice wine is readily
available in bottles in Asian markets.
Japanese rice wine or sake and the
sweeter mirin or sherry may be used
as a substitute.

 

Sago pearls

Sago pearls are tiny white balls made
from the starch of the sago palm. They
soften and turn transparent when
cooked, and help thicken coconut milk
or water with their gluey texture. Sago
pearls are used in Vietnamese desserts.
Available in packets in the dry foods
section of Asian supermarkets.

 

Saw-leaf herb

Saw-leaf herb which smells like corian-
der (cilantro), is part of the standard
garnish of fresh herbs that are served
on the table with most Vietnamese
meals. It has a long, serrated green
leaf. Also known as “long coriander.”

 

Sesame rice crackers

Sesame rice crackers are thin crackers made from rice flour and sesame
seeds. They must be grilled or lightly
baked before serving and are used
like a cracker for dipping. Shrimp
crackers or puffed rice crackers may
be substituted.

 

Shrimp crackers

Shrimp crackers, also called shrimp
chips, are crispy crackers made from
finely ground shrimp, tapioca starch,
and egg whites pressed together and
dried. When fried in hot oil, they expand
into light crackers that dissolve in your
mouth, leaving a mild shrimp taste. Very
popular in Vietnam, particularly during
Tet, they are often served as a snack
with a dipping sauce, or as an accompaniment to a main course.

 

Star anise

Star anise is a star-shaped, eight-
pointed pod from an evergreen tree
grown in northern Vietnam. It has the
pungent flavor of aniseed or licorice.
Used most often in soups (pho, in particular) or other recipes requiring long
simmering, star anise is available whole
or ground. If used whole, discard
before serving.

 

Starfruit

Starfruit is eaten raw and finely sliced.
The young starfruit has a tart taste,
and is often served with unripe, sliced
bananas. Delicious with grilled or
fried foods.

 

Sugar cane

Sugar cane is a tall, coarse cane that
grows with a thick dense stem and is
the primary source of the world’s refined
white sugar. The sweet juice extracted
from fresh sugar cane is a very popular
drink in most parts of Southeast Asia.
In Vietnam, fresh sugar cane stalks are
used as skewers in some dishes, such
as the famous Chao tom lui mia. The
fresh, frozen or canned stalks, which
look like cane or bamboo, can be purchased in Asian food stores.

 

Tamarind

Tamarind is a large, brown pod with
soft, sour pulp and hard, black seeds.
Tamarind pulp is rich in vitamin and
has a tangy, acidic taste, and is used
as a popular souring agent throughout
the world. It can be bought fresh, dried,
or in pulp form, and is most commonly
sold in compressed blocks, with the
seeds removed. To make tamarind juice,
mix 1 tablespoon of the dried tamarind
pulp with 2 tablespoons of warm water,
then mash well and strain to remove the
seeds and fibers.

 

 

 

 

 



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