Keyword suggestions: Minh Long Contest Golden Spoon Awards
Semi-final for Southern region:

Southern Golden Dishes: Rustic yet Amazing Taste

Sunday, 10/30/2016 15:24
Bringing particular wild leaves and fruits, 27 teams from the South of Vietnam (southwest, southeast, middle-south, and middle-highland) rocked the semi-final round of The Golden Spoon Contest on October 26th and 27th 2016.

Judges of southern semi-final were familiar faces like Food Artisan Bui Thi Suong, Elite Teacher & Guest Judge Trieu Thi Choi, and professional judge Ly Sanh. Especially, there were 2 foreign judges, Mr. Norbert Ehrbar – Deputy Chairman of Saigon Professional Chefs Association, and Mr. Sakal Phoeung – Chairman of Vietnamese Escoffier Association. Those two would bring new angles of international cuisine to the contest and contribute to introduce Vietnamese cuisine to the world.

Be rustic from leaves to fruits

Very accidentally, chefs from Ho Chi Minh City brought so many stories of wild vegetables to the southern semi-final round. Those exotic ingredients and spices are rarely used in cooking so that not many people have known about them. Elite artist and guest judge Kim Xuan had to say, “If you did not introduce, I would have thought they were wild and inedible. It just proved that Vietnamese edible leaves are very abundant. Without The Golden Spoon contest, I would not know these rustic leaves and fruits are great spices. Really appreciate your work.”

To begin the journey about stories of exotic leaves and fruits, we have to count So and Me Ga (chicken gizzard) fruits. Those two are from highlands of Lam Dong province and they are both sour. So fruits have been using as sour addictive for fish soup but Me Ga fruits were absolutely wild and never had been used in common cooking. According to local people, this edible fruit is alike Marian plums (Bouea gandaria Blume), which has sweet sour taste and soothing scent. Me Ga fruits are normally known as kids’ snacks and no one ever had tried to cook them. However, the experienced acumen pushed lead chef of Team no. 10 to use those wild fruits in making sauce for fresh-water fish, such as carb and sturgeon.

Me Ga (chicken gizzard) fruits.

With the same idea of elevating traditional Vietnamese cuisine, chef Le Vo Anh Duy from Binh Quoi 1 resort (Team no. 16) has continued to climb up The Golden Spoon 4th season with numerous exotic leaves. In addition to wild leaves, which were introduced last seasons such as Nganh, Dip, and Bac Ha, Le Vo Anh Duy brought to this contest Truc Linh, a totally new vegetable. This vegetable grows in the middle of Viet Nam, especially Phu Yen province, and people believe it helps to reduce motion sickness. Using Truc Linh vegetables and other traditional ingredients, Team no. 16 displayed an abundant menu, including Calf rolled Truc Linh leaves in wild black pepper sauce; Crab and Goose Liver paste served with seasoned fish sauce; Seafood in Nganh leaf sauce served with salad of Bac Ha leaf, pomelo, and sesame; Ngoc Linh chicken cooked bamboo shoot, Dip leaves, and Morel mushroom served with fresh rice noodles; and Yam cake stuffed lotus seed and artichoke paste. Capability and accumulated experiences had helped chef Le Vo Anh Duy and his team won the 1st prize in southern semi-final round. Elite Artist and Guest Judge Kim Xuan gave comments to this team: “Team no. 16’s dishes attracted me from the appetizer to the dessert. You guys did an excellent job on seasoning, dishes soothingly and delicately links to each other. Bon appetite!”

Truc Linh, a totally new vegetable.

Chef Le Vo Anh Duy from Binh Quoi 1 resort (team no. 16).

Besides traditional ingredients, teams from “the far East Pearl” (old name of Ho Chi Minh City) brought many international high-class ingredients to the contest, such as sturgeon, cod, New Zealand lamb, Australian beef, American scallops, French squads, and saffron flower combining with modern cooking methods (consommé, sous vide). All of their effort has breathed a new blast of passion and creativity to their dainty menus.

Robust hometown-flavors

MeKong delta area teams and southeast teams took advantages of their abundant environtments and brought all of their folk specialties to the contest. However, following the topic “Golden Dishes” of the semi-final round, casual food from hometown had been elevated to upper level in both cooking methods and displaying. Folk materials, such as Ca Na fruits (Elaeocarpus), gamboge fruits, Mo Qua flowers (Dischidia major), Hu Khom root, water caltrop, Kim Cang root, small melon, patora young leaves, cactus, Jaggery, Xoan oranges, homemade rice wine, and tropical fruits were amazingly blended in conventional seafood in floating season like bronze feather-back fish (Notopterus notopterus), Muscovy ducks, freshwater eels, rice-field frogs, and giant river prawn. All dishes were rustically named as following: Quan Nhi restaurant (Team no.1): Mo Qua flower, Hu Khom root and giant river prawn salad with Xoan orange sauce; wild bitter melon stuffed frog paste; Muscovy duck curry; Steamed rice cake served with water caltrop Jaggery; Restaurant and Wedding center Thang Loi 1 (Team no.2): Duck breast and Ca Na served with bread; Southern cassava cake.

Other teams named their dishes with classy ingredients, such as BBQ goat ribs with Mongolian sauce (Ho Tram Beach Boutique Resort & Spa – Team no.35); Scallops and Sweet corn soup served with cilantro essence and orange jelly, Sautéed French duck breast in curry and stir fried vegetables served with mashed purple yam (Green Bamboo Club – Team no.38).

Sea-pangolin – a specialty of Bau Trang, Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan province, Vietnam.

To differentiate themselves to other regions, southeast teams brought to the contest all bizarre seafood, such as bony fish (Ostraclidae) and sea-pangolin – a specialty of Bau Trang, Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan province – which has 8 scale membranes like pangolin. Remarkably, Vung Tau Palace hotel brought to the contest all plants, from familiar - Chay fruits, Thi fruits, nutmeg, pagoda flower (Styphnolobium japonicum), and herbs – to exotic (Thun Mun leaves, vinegar leaves). Specially, the team from homeland of Vo Thi Sau – a female hero – boldly used totally strange ingredients and even some of them are supposed to be useless, such as hot pepper leaves and papaya seeds. All “strange yet common” ingredients and spices were processed by Team no.34, together with classy food (salmon caviar, velvet antler) to become a nutritious and exotic menu.

Quan Nhi restaurant (team no.1).

From the untouched pearl island of Kien Giang province, La Veranda Phu Quoc team knew how to use and promote their existing strengths like green pepper and fish sauce. Pure fish sauce was in three-fourth of their menu. This traditional fish sauce, which made of Phu Quoc raw anchovy, contains high protein and has smooth taste. Judge Trieu Thi Choi praised “Everyone knows that fish sauce is an indispensable seasoning in Vietnamese meals. It can enrich the taste of many dishes but if you use it inappropriately, it possibly makes your dishes monotonous. Understanding this usage, your team well exploited fish sauce and turned your dishes to distinguished cuisine.”

Judges have been so curious about the journey to discover exotic native ingredients and spices of Mekong Delta area and Southeastern teams, especially the two professional foreign judges – Norbert Ehrbar and Sakal Phoeung. They were impressed and excited observing the cooking process and tasting Vietnamese native spices.

From the echo of Middle Highlands to the concert of Middle Coastline

To be imprinted from the preliminary, Team no.45 - Gia Bao 79 Restaurant (Kon Tum province) - kept their Ace, which was the unique Salt fruit, into this semi-final round. In this battle, chef Nguyen Duc Hoang wanted to widely introduce this specialty so he brought all fresh Salt flowers, fresh Salt fruits, and dried Salt seeds. Especially, the Kon Tum highland chef decided to keep original processing method of minority people that using giant mortar to pestle Salt seeds.

Chef Nguyen Duc Hoang.

The unique Salt fruit.

Moreover, Team no.45 brought a whole bunch of Highland spices, such as wild leaves with garlic scent, Chu Mo Ray forest ginger root, wild Bac Ha leaves, and tube wine. Chef Hoang put lots of his effort and passion to introduce potential Highland cuisine, which should be paid more attention to. His effort got paid off when the team seized a ticket to The Golden Spoon 2016 Final round. Team no.45’s menu is as following: Ly Son wild vegetable with garlic scent, Barley in pumpkin and black tiger shrimp soup; Sautéed Pha fish with Chu Mo Ray ginger in tube wine sauce; Running chicken and Salt fruits, served with fresh rice noodles; Rice ball stuffed durian paste dessert.

Chef Nguyen Duc Hoang decided to keep original processing method of minority people that using giant mortar to pestle Salt seeds.

Another remarkable team was Cam Thanh restaurant (Quang Ngai province), which was the 1st prize of Middle South preliminary. Even though this was the first time participating The Golden Spoon Contest, team from Ly Son Island has invested their effort to the competition. They were determined to fit international high-class ingredients into Ly Son’s specialties and created a harmony impressive menu as followings: Ly Son oysters, New Zealand lobsters, and Ly Son sea-cucumbers; Steamed Ly Son slipper lobsters (Ibacus ciliates) in broth of Ly Son black garlic wine; Heads of New Zealand lobsters with Couscous seeds and Sung leaves; Sautéed American beef fillet in Truffle mushroom sauce; French fois gras served with Lang Huyet root; French styled crème caramel served with Ly Son pandan seaweed.

Ly Son sea-cucumbers.

Ly Son slipper lobsters (Ibacus ciliatus).

After all hard working, the Southern semi-final round picked 9 represetatives to be in the final round. These are: 1st prize (50,000,000 vnd award) Binh Quoi 1 Resort; 2nd prizes (40,000,000 vnd award): Quan Nhi – Can Tho province (No.1), Thang Loi 1 Restaurant – An Giang province (No.2), La Veranda Phu Quoc – Kien Giang province (No.4), Sea Links City Company – Binh Thuan province (No.31), Vung Tau Palace (No.34), Thanh Phat restaurant – Dak Lak province (No.44), Gia Bao 79 Restaurant – KonTum province (No.45), and Cam Thanh Restaurant – Quang Ngai province (No.52).

Therefore, 9 Southern excellent teams will compete 6 Northern teams, including Naman Retreat Resort Da Nang, Indochine Palace Hue Hotel, Muong Thanh Lao Cao Hotel, Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, and Crowne Plaza Da Nang Hotel, at the final round on December 6th 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City.

By Cong Minh

  • Tags:
Write Comment Send Comment
0 Comment

Hot restaurants

Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2018 Top 10 In 10 Dishes

Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2018 Top 10 In 10 Dishes

Enjoy this gallery with amazing dishes from the top 10 restaurants of Latin America's 50 Best 2018, with chef Tsumura's Maido at number 1 for the second year.


Superstar Pastry Chef's 'Food Porn' Has Instagram Drooling

Superstar Pastry Chef's 'Food Porn' Has Instagram Drooling

When Cedric Grolet takes out his pastry knife, millions of mouths water.

Cuisine & Nutrition

Sauces and Herbs to Die For

Sauces and Herbs to Die For

Vietnamese dipping sauce and a huge variety of fresh aromatic herbs are the soul of the country’s cuisine.

© 2014 / All rights & Copyrights reserved.

Golden Spoon Awards