Thứ Sáu, 1 tháng 2, 2013

The Precious Wine from Nature

One special species of mushroom, used in fermenting wine, yields a medley of nutritional and health benefits.

Mushroom wine is considered both precious and healthy. Of the many species, only certain kinds of mushrooms can be used to make wine. Tricoloma matsutake, or simply Matsutake in Japanese, is one such murshroom. Matsutake used to be a valuable gift for Japanese Mikados ( Emperors ). Matsutake in Vietnamese name is nam Tung Nhung or Tung Nhung murshroom.

Nam Tung Nhung - Matsutake

Matsutake is quite valued in Vietnam, China, Japan and Europe. Unlike other mushrooms that grow in dead wood, the Matsutake thrives in the roots of living pine trees and some relatives of the pine tree. The bacteria of Matsutake attaches to the roots. then develops into a fungus. Since the Matsutake can only survive on pine tree roots less than 10 cm deep in the earth, the mushroom is rare. Matsutake therefore usually is found in mountainous areas where the soil is not too thick. It cannot be cultivated, but only harvested from nature.

Matsutake has a thick stem, its flesh is rich in protein, fat substances, fibrous matters, and vitamins. The mushroom is good for  general health, digestion pain relief, and also prevents diabetes and cancer.

Matsutake wine is specially made according to a coveted recipe handed down from generation to generation. Only freshly harvested medium or small-sized Matsutakes can be used. The mushroorns are cleaned and then soaked in white wine and other secret ingredients. After exactly six months, the wine can be imbibed. Regular intake of Matsutake wine is believed to have substantial health benefits. Matsutake wine has a yellow color, an unusual aroma. With one sip, the unique flavor of sweet mushroom remains long lasting in the throat. Matsutake wine is deerned most suitable along with dishes made from mushrooms, such as mushroom salad, mushroom fried rice, and
rnushroom hot-pot (which is a specialty of Mushroom Hot-Pot Restaurant).

Not as strong as white wine, not as sweet as syrah, not as pungent as strong whiskey, Matsutake wine has a distinguishable flavor unlike any other alcohol. The lucky liquor connoisseurs who get to taste this special wine ralely forget the experience - one which ties in both flavor and health.

 Toni Nguyen

Visit here Vietnam Vacation to find holiday tour in Vietnam

Thứ Sáu, 25 tháng 1, 2013

Feel like Eel

In Vietnam. each region has its own specialities. Eel is common in all three regions of the
country, often served in a variation of two recipes - dried eel or vermicelli soup with eel. The most traditional dish is eel gruel of Nghe An province, which has an intense hot
and salty flavor of the sea.

Witt simple rural ingreclients, each region has rnude its own twist on eel. To accompany rice wine, the most suitable dish is eel roasted with salt. This recipe is quite unique and detailed. The eel is steamed with salt and citronella in a terra-cotta pot. This method lets eel retain its taste, while picking up the other spicy flavors. Eel grilled in bamboo tube is another popular dish. For this dish, the eel is grilled slowly over coal then mixed with spices and vegetables. Eel grilled in bamboo tube is a well-known flavor of the northern delta.

Other dishes must be mentioned. Eel simmered with green banana and tofu is very popular in northern Vietnam, and tastes mildly sour. Prepared a golden color of saffron, this dish may be served with vermicelli as a delicious summer dish. Eel simmered with coconut milk is a southern specialty. The eel is put on a layer of citronella and topped with a layer a “nhao” leaves. Coconut milk is poured into the pot and bought to a simmer. This dish is best served with peanuts.

Toni Nguyen
Visit here Vietnam Vacation to find holiday tour in Vietnam

Thứ Năm, 24 tháng 1, 2013

Can Cau Colour Market in Bac Ha

Situated on the bank of a river just nine kilometers from the Chinese border, Can Cau market is in a sprawling towrn. Predominuntly a farming und livestock market, Can Cau of'fers a sensory experience of Iife in the mountains. Black pot-bellied pigs, cages of chicken and tethered water buffalo are carefully looked over and gradually sold. Basic wares like traclitional clothing, sacks of rice, old farming implements and lengths of coarse raw wool and hemp are laid out and sold from tables and large wicker baskets. The locals are mostly of the Flower H’mong minority group, identifiable by theil traditional multi-colored embroidered garments.

Can Cau Market

Bac Ha market, 10 kilometers to the south, is slightly more commercial, selling handicrafts, jewelry, orchids, mushrooms, and honey. The people mingle gaily, stocking
up on gossip and supplies for the coming week. Visitors should sample some of the honeyed rice cakes, fresh vegetables or meat products sold at makeshift food
stalls lining the market. Adventurous gastronomes can try things like ‘thang co’ blood porridge, a popular dish of the H'mong, or pull up a seat at the rice wine bars to enjoy the fiery brew, and laughter of the locals.

"Thang Co" Special Food

“Cho tinh”, or love markets, are now a less common spectacle. Many claim that curious tourists with their clicking cameras have spoiled this weekly tradition, where people would come together to make friends or acquaintances, meet new lovers or renew ties with old ones. Young H'mong men would play the “khen”, a bamboo flute, while a Dzao man might try to impress the ledies with an enthusiastic “hat doi” (duet singing). Single men might lay a plan to kidnap or lure his chosen girl to his home, a tradition in H'mong culture. According to custom, if the girl eats the food he prepares, the pair will wed. If she is unimpressed after three days, she will leave him and go back to her parents.

Toni Nguyen
Visit here Vietnam Vacation to find holiday tour in Vietnam

The Legend of Vietnamese Kitchen Gods

Part 1. Vietnamese Kitchen Story

The Vietnamese kitchen was considered a sacred part in the Vietnamese families, as the Kitchen Gods are worshiped by every Vietnamese family

People living in Vietnam's northern delta typically built their homes with the front door facing south, as advised by the old saying, "Marry a good-natured wife and build a houseturned towards the south". The kitchen should ideally lie to the left, in the eastern quadrant, separate from the main building with its door facing west. This direction prevents southern and eastern sea winds from blowing into the kitchen and causing the cooking fire to flare up and burn down the house or make the family uneasy.
In what was once Kinh Bac province (now Bac Ninh and Bac Giang provinces), Gia Lam, Dong Anh District, and some areas of Vinh Phuc, Thai Nguyen, Lang Son and Hung Yen provinces, the main house typically consisted of three compartments and one or two lean-tos. The kitchen had two sections.
One part was used to store fish sauce, salt, pickles, cooking pots, water containers, dishes, utensils, and perhaps a rice-hulling mill and mortar. The other side, used for cooking, contained some straw, firewood and the stove. Women were responsible for the cooking, as explained in old proverbs like, "Looking at a house's kitchen we can know about the woman in that family"; "Without a man, a house is lonely, while without a woman the kitchen is deserted", or, "A man is always close to his house and a woman is always close to her kitchen ".

 Three "Ong Dau Rau"

ln the old days, the cooking pot rested upon an earthen trivet comprised of three rounded clods of heavy soil or clay mixed with rice husks and arranged in a triangle. People in central Vietnam called the trivet "ong nuc" and northerners called it "ong dau rau". Northerners also referred to the middle clod as "dau rau cai' (female trivet) and the other two as "dau rau duc" (male trivets). To heat many pots at one time the cook arranged two or three sets of trivets in a line.

Vietnamese Kitchen

The fireplace was considered an essential, and indeed sacred, part of the home, as every Vietnamese family worshiped the Kitchen God with the family's ancestors. The ancestral altar stood in the main section of the house and the Kitchen God's altar in a side section. If an auxiliary branch of the family did not have an ancestral altar in their home they placed the Kitchen God's altar in the central section. Simpler than an ancestral altar, the Kitchen God's altar consisted of an incense-table set against the back wall. Three gods were worshiped: Tho Cong, Tho Dia and Tho Ky. Their votive tablet bore the message, "The palace of the Kitchen God is located in the east and takes care of the host's life and destiny", or four Chinese characters (Dinh phuc Tao quan) that declare, "The Kitchen God brings luck to the family"

"Ong Tao" is going to Heaven

It is said that each year on the 23rd day of 12th lunar month the Kitchen God reports his host's good and bad deeds to the King of Heaven. lf the host has been good-hearted the King of Heaven will reward him with good health and luck. lf he has behaved badly his days may be numbered. On this day, after honoring "Ong Cong" (also called Ong Tao), householders burn votive paper money for the dead and replace their old "ong dau rau" with a new one, throwing the old one into a pond. This done, they release a live carp into a stream or a pond so that it may be turned into a dragon and carry "Ong Cong" to meet the King of Heaven. (According to an old Chinese belief, "Ong Cong" could be bribed with candy to present a positive report).

More at part 2

Toni Nguyen
Visit here Vietnam Vacation to find holiday tour in Vietnam