Asian Food Fest 2019 May 11th and 12th – Freedom Way at The Banks, Cincinnati, Ohio

May 9, 2019 at 1:40 PM | Posted in Festivals | Leave a comment
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Asian Food Fest 2019
Where: The Banks, Freedom Way between Elm and Walnut streets
When: noon-10 p.m. May 11, noon-8 p.m. May 12
Price: It’s free, the dishes cost $2-$6
Free Admission!

New this year, the Asian Food Fest will be located on Freedom Way between Elm and Walnut Streets!

Features authentic food from mostly all countries from Asia including Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, India, Korea, Japan and many more. Chef Hideki Harada and his wife will be serving up some Japanese delights while Pho Lang Thang will be going back to its roots of the first food fest and will be dishing out some Pho!

Fish of the Week – Basa fish

February 19, 2013 at 10:05 AM | Posted in fish | 2 Comments
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The basa fish, Pangasius bocourti, is a type of catfish in the family Pangasiidae. Basa are native to the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam

Basa fish Vinh Long market, Việt Nam

Basa fish Vinh Long market, Việt Nam

and Chao Phraya basin in Thailand. These fish are important food fish with an international market. They are often labeled in North America and Australia as “basa fish” or “bocourti”. In the UK, the species is known mainly as “river cobbler”, with “basa” also being used on occasion. In Europe, these fish are commonly marketed as “pangasius” or “panga”. Other related shark catfish may occasionally be falsely labeled as basa fish, including Pangasianodon hypophthalmus (iridescent shark) and Pangasius pangasius (yellowtail catfish).

The body of a basa fish is stout and heavy. The rounded head is broader than it is long, with the blunt snout having a white band on its muzzle. This species grows to a length of 120 centimetres (47 in) SL.

Basa fish feed on plants. They spawn at the onset of flood season and the young are first seen in June, averaging about 5 cm by mid-June.

Tests by Asda and Tesco in the UK have found no trace of contaminants. Test from AQIS found trace levels of malachite green, but no other contaminants.

In 2002, the United States accused Vietnam of dumping catfish, namely Pangasius bocourti and Pangasius hypophthalmus, on the American market, charging the Vietnamese importers, who are subsidized by Vietnam’s government, of unfair competition. With pressures from the U.S. catfish industry, the United States Congress passed a law in 2003 preventing the imported fish from being labelled as catfish, as well as imposing additional tariffs on the imported fish. Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruling, only species from the family Ictaluridae can be sold as true catfish. As a result, the Vietnamese exporters of this fish now label their products sold in the U.S. as basa fish or bocourti.

At the height of the “catfish war”, U.S. catfish farmers and others were describing the imported catfish as an inferior product. However, Mississippi State University researchers found imported basa were preferred in a taste test 3-to-1.

Basa has become fairly common in the UK under the name “Vietnamese river cobbler” or just “river cobbler”. It is mainly being sold through the large supermarkets in both fresh and frozen forms. It is marketed as a cheaper alternative to traditionally popular white fish, such as cod or haddock. Young’s Bluecrest use it in some of their frozen fish products, choosing to use the name basa instead of cobbler.

UK Trading Standards officers have stated cobbler is being fraudulently sold as cod by some fish and chip retailers to capitalise on the large difference in the wholesale price between the two, i.e., cobbler costs less than half the price of cod. This practice was highlighted by the successful prosecution of two retailers (using DNA evidence) one in July 2009, and another in April 2010.

National Dish of the Week – Vietnam

November 3, 2011 at 12:14 PM | Posted in baking, Food, soup | 3 Comments
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Vietnamese cuisine is a style of cooking derived from Vietnam. Fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and

Bánh mì

vegetables are commonly used. Vietnamese recipes utilize a diverse range of herbs, including lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander

and Thai basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for freshness of the ingredients and for the healthy eating style.

The most common meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are fish, chicken, pork, beef, and various kinds of seafood. The Vietnamese also have a strong vegetarian tradition influenced by Buddhist values.

The mainstream culinary traditions in all three regions of Vietnam share some fundamental features:

Freshness of food: Most meats are only briefly cooked to preserve their original textures and colors. Vegetables are rarely cooked; if they are, they are boiled or only briefly stir-fried.
Presence of herbs and vegetables: Herbs and vegetables are used abundantly in Vietnamese cuisines. Vietnamese dishes are incomplete without herbs and vegetables.
Broths or soup-based dishes are characteristic of all three regions
Presentation: The condiments that accompany Vietnamese meals are usually colorful and arranged in eye-pleasing manners.

While sharing some key features, Vietnamese culinary tradition differs from region to region.

In Northern Vietnam, colder climate limits the production and availability of spices. As a result, the foods here are often less spicy than those in other regions. Black pepper is used in place of chiles as the most popular ingredient to produce spice flavor. In general, Northern Vietnamese cuisine is not bold in any particular flavor – sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, or sour. Most Northern Vietnamese foods feature light and balanced flavors that result from subtle combinations of many different flavoring ingredients. The use of meats such as pork, beef, and chicken were relatively limited in the past. Freshwater fish, crustaceans, and mollusks – such as prawns, shrimps, crabs, oysters, mussels – are widely used. Many notable dishes of Northern Vietnam are crab-centered (e.g., bún riêu). Fish sauce, soy sauce, prawn sauce, and lime are among the main flavoring ingredients. Being the cradle of Vietnamese civilization, Northern Vietnam produces many signature dishes of Vietnam, such as phở, bún riêu, bánh cuốn, which were carried to Central and Southern Vietnam through the road of Vietnamese migration.

The abundance of spices produced by Central Vietnam’s mountainous terrain makes this region’s cuisine notable for its spicy food,

Bánh cuốn Thanh Tri

which sets it apart from the two other regions of Vietnam where foods are mostly non-spicy. Once the capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam, Hue’s culinary tradition features highly decorative and colorful food, reflecting the influence of ancient Vietnamese royal cuisine. The region’s cuisine is also notable for its sophisticated meals constituted by many complex dishes served at small portions. Chili peppers and shrimp sauces are among the frequently used ingredients. Some Vietnamese signature dishes produced at this region are bún bò Huế and bánh xèo.

The warm weather and fertile soil of Southern Vietnam create an ideal condition for growing a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, and livestock. As a result, foods in Southern Vietnam are often vibrant and flavorful with liberal uses of garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs. Sugar is added to food more than in the other regions. The preference for sweetness in Southern Vietnam can also be seen through the widespread use of coconut milk in Southern Vietnamese cuisine. Vast shorelines make seafood a natural staple for people in this region. Southern Vietnam has also been the region where influences from foreign cuisines (Chinese, Indian, French, Thai etc.) are most prominent.

As distinct as Vietnamese cuisine is, it has been influenced by several sources.

Once a province of China for over a thousand years, Vietnam shares many of its characteristics with China. In culinary traditions, Chinese introduced to Vietnam many dishes like hoành thánh (wonton), há cảo (dumpling), hủ tiếu (ka tieu), mì (wheat noodles), bò bía (Popiah), bánh quẩy (youtiao), bánh bao (baozi), cơm chiên Dương Châu (Yangzhou-fried rice), mì xào (chow mein)…Vietnamese adopted these foods and added their own styles and flavors to the foods. Ethnic minorities in the mountainous region near China-Vietnam border also adopted some foods from China. Ethnic Tày and Nùng in Lạng Sơn province adopted “thịt lợn quay” (roasted pork) and “khau nhục” (braised pork belly) from China.

The French introduced to Vietnam baguettes, which were then combined with Vietnamese stuffing to become a popular fast food in Vietnam called bánh mì and known overseas as “Vietnamese sandwich“. The French also brought to Vietnam onions, potatoes, tarragon, asparagus, and coffee… Onions are called “hành tây” (literally “Western onion”), asparagus as “măng tây” (literally “Western shoots) and potatoes are called “khoai tây” (literally “Western yam”) in Vietnamese, which reflect their origin before arriving to Vietnam.

From India by way of possibly the annexed Indianized kingdom Champa in central Vietnam or the Khmer Krom, Vietnamese adopted curry.Though not common in the North, cà ri is a quite popular dish in central and southern Vietnam. The most common form is the chicken curry and to a much less common dish is the goat curry. The chicken curry is an indispensable dish in many social gathering events such as weddings, funerals and the yearly death anniversary of a loved one. In Vietnam, the curry is eaten either with the French baguettes or with steamed rice. The round rice noodles (rice vermicelli) are sometimes eaten with the curry.

From the Khmer, Vietnamese adopted mắm bồ hóc (prahok). Mắm bồ hóc is used as a central ingredient of a Vietnamese rice noodle soup called “bún nước lèo” – a Vietnamese dish influenced by Khmer.

From Thailand, Vietnamese adopted xôi xoài (mango sticky rice) and lẩu Thái (Thai hotpot) – a very popular party food in Vietnam, especially in Saigon.

A typical meal for the average Vietnamese family would include:

Individual bowls of steamed white rice
Fish/seafood, meat (grilled, boiled, steamed, stewed or stir-fried with vegetables)
Stir-fried, raw, and pickled, steamed, or fresh vegetables
Canh (a clear broth with vegetables and often meat or seafood) or other Vietnamese-style soup
Prepared fish sauce and/or soy sauce for dipping, to which garlic, pepper, chili, ginger or lime juice are sometimes added according to taste
Small dish of relishes, such as salted eggplant, pickled white cabbage, pickled papaya, pickled garlic or pickled bean sprouts

All dishes apart from the individual bowls of rice are communal and to be shared.

Feast (Vietnamese: cỗ) is a significant event for families or a villages, usually 4 or 6 people for each table (5 people is unacceptable). Feast is prepared for weddings, funerals or in festivals, including wish-for-longevity ceremony. In a feast, ordinary foods are not

Canh chua, sour soup

served but boiled rice is still used. The well-known feast is the feast of 49 quan họ villages with cỗ năm tầng.

Vietnamese feast has two courses: main course (món mặn. Literally: salty dish) and dessert (món ngọt. Literally: sweet dish). All dishes, except for individual bowls of rice, are enjoyed collectively. All main course dishes are served simultaneously rather than subsequently. The most major dish of the main course is place in the centers of the tables, usually big pots of soup or hotpot.

Attendants are arranged into several groups according to their social status, genders, ages, their degree of acquantaince and their eating habits and preferences. It is a custom that female guests will bring some food and help the hosts to prepare the feast.

A basic feast (Vietnamese: cỗ một tầng) consists of ten dishes: five dishes in bowls (năm bát): bóng, miến (cellophane noodles), măng (bamboo shoot), mọc (meat ball), chim or gà tần (bird or chicken stew dishes) and five dishes in plates (năm đĩa): giò (Vietnamese sausage), chả, gà or vịt luộc (boiled chicken or duck), nộm (Vietnamese salad) and xào (stir-frying dishes). This kind of feast is original and is organized in the Northern Vietnam. Other variances are held in Central and Southern Vietnam.

Four dishes are indispensable in the feast of Tết are giò (Vietnamese sausage), nem (spring roll), ninh (stew dishes) and mọc (meat ball). In this time, the feast for offering ancestors includes: sticky rice, boiled chicken, Vietnamese rice wine, and other preferred foods by ancestors in the past.

Gifts are given before guests leave the feast.

Fruit of the Week – Lychee

October 31, 2011 at 10:27 AM | Posted in Food, fruits | 1 Comment
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The lychee (Litchi chinensis, and commonly called leechi, litchi, laichi, lichu, lizhi) is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to Southern China and Southeast Asia, and now

cultivated in many parts of the world. The fresh fruit has a “delicate, whitish pulp” with a “perfume” flavor that is lost in canning, so the fruit is mostly eaten fresh.

An evergreen tree reaching 10–20 m tall, the lychee bears fleshy fruits that are up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long and 4 cm (1.6 in) wide. The outside of the fruit is covered by a pink-red, roughly-textured rind that is inedible but easily removed to expose a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh. Lychees are eaten in many different dessert dishes, and are especially popular in China, throughout South-East Asia, along with South Asia and India.

The lychee is cultivated in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and northern India (in particular Bihar, which accounts for 75% of total Indian production.) South Africa and the United States (Hawaii and Florida) also have commercial lychee production.

The lychee has a history of cultivation going back as far as 2000 BC according to records in China. Cultivation began in the area of southern China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Wild trees still grow in parts of southern China and on Hainan Island. There are many stories of the fruit’s use as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was first described and introduced to the west in 1782.

Litchi chinensis is an evergreen tree that is frequently less than 10 m (33 ft) tall, sometimes reaching more than 15 m (49 ft). The bark is grey-black, the branches a brownish-red. Leaves are 10 to 25 cm (3.9 to 9.8 in) or longer, with leaflets in 2-4 pairs. Litchee have a similar foliage to the Lauraceae family likely due to convergent evolution. They are adapted by developing leaves that repel water, similar to laurophyll or lauroide leaves which are adapted to high rainfall and humidity in laurel forest habitats. Flowers grow on a terminal inflorescence with many panicles on the current season’s growth. The panicles grow in clusters of ten or more, reaching 10 to 40 cm (3.9 to 16 in) or longer, holding hundreds of small white, yellow, or green flowers that are distinctively fragrant.

Fruits mature in 80–112 days, depending on climate, location, and cultivar. Fruits reach up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long and 4 cm (1.6 in) wide, varying in shape from round, to ovoid, to heart-shaped. The thin, tough inedible skin is green when immature, ripening to red or pink-red, and is smooth or covered with small sharp protuberances. The skin turns brown and dry when left out after harvesting. The fleshy, edible portion of the fruit is an aril, surrounding one dark brown inedible seed that is 1 to 3.3 cm (0.39 to 1.3 in) long and .6 to 1.2 cm (0.24 to 0.47 in) wide. Some cultivars produce a high percentage of fruits with shriveled aborted seeds known as ‘chicken

Lychees, showing a peeled fruit

tongues’. These fruit typically have a higher price, due to having more edible flesh.

Lychees are extensively grown in China, and also elsewhere in Brazil, South-East Asia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, southern Japan, and more recently in California, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, the wetter areas of eastern Australia and sub-tropical regions of South Africa, Israel and also in the states of Sinaloa and San Luis Potosí (specifically, in La Huasteca) in Mexico. They require a warm subtropical to tropical climate that is cool but also frost-free or with only very slight winter frosts not below -4°C, and with high summer heat, rainfall, and humidity. Growth is best on well-drained, slightly acidic soils rich in organic matter. A wide range of cultivars is available, with early and late maturing forms suited to warmer and cooler climates respectively. They are also grown as an ornamental tree as well as for their fruit.

Lychees are commonly sold fresh in Asian markets, and in recent years, also widely in supermarkets worldwide. The red rind turns

dark brown when the fruit is refrigerated, but the taste is not affected. It is also sold canned year-round. The fruit can be dried with the rind intact, at which point the flesh shrinks and darkens. Dried lychee are often called lychee nuts, though, of course, they are not a real nut.

According to folklore, a lychee tree that is not producing much fruit can be girdled, leading to more fruit production.

The lychee contains on average a total 72 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit.[11] On average nine lychee fruits would meet an adult’s daily recommended Vitamin C requirement.

A cup of lychee fruit provides, among other minerals, for a 2000-calorie diet, mainly from sugar, 14%DV of copper, 9%DV of phosphorus, and 6%DV of potassium.

Like most plant-based foods, lychees are low in saturated fat and sodium and are cholesterol free. Lychees have moderate amounts of polyphenols, shown in one French study to be higher than several other fruits analyzed. On the phenolic composition, flavan-3-ol monomers and dimers were the major found compounds representing about 87.0% of the phenolic compounds that declined with storage or browning. Cyanidin-3-glucoside was a major anthocyanin and represented 91.9% of anthocyanins. It also declined with storage or browning. Small amounts of malvidin-3-glucoside were also found.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Lychee is known for being a fruit with “hot” properties (see the six excesses for more details on the definition of heat), and excessive consumption of Lychee can, in certain extreme cases, lead to fainting spells or skin rashes.

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