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1st Prize Southern Semi-Final Round:

Save Homeland Flavors For The Best

Saturday, 11/05/2016 11:17
Binh Quoi 1 Resort (HCMC) once again stepped on the top rank of winners with the 1st prize in Southern semi-final round, The Golden Spoon contest 2016, and 50 millions VND reward.

1. “I saw a strange type of leaves on their kitchen kiosk. If you did not introduce, I would have thought it was a type of wild grass. It means Viet Nam has abundant edible leaves. Without being here, I would know nothing about these remarkable spices and nutritious dishes. You guys subdued me not only by your interesting and dainty food but also by your talents and your passion for Vietnamese cuisine”, commented guest judge Kim Xuan to Binh Quoi 1 Resort team, which included lead chef Le Vo Anh Duy, Le Thi Vi, and Nguyen Minh Tri.

When marking cooking techniques, this guest judge paid a lot attention to the team. She carefully looked at the menu, spices and ingredients on kitchen table, and every action of the chefs. Ms. Kim Xuan really appreciated their ideas of finding, choosing, and exploiting featured specialties from all 3 main regions of Viet Nam, especially exotic wild leaves. She picked every single type and asked about its origin, its usages, and what dish it would be used. Coherently, chef Anh Duy answered each of her questions about their journey of spices.


Chef Anh Duy was excited sharing his team’s journey of finding and introducing new spices.

That was the 4th time chef Anh Duy participating in The Golden Spoon contest. Studying law major but this chef chose culinary career as his passion. He humbly shared, “Every time attending in The Golden Spoon contest is a challenge of creativity, discovery, and profession in order to make a significant new dish.” From the first season till today, chef Anh Duy and his colleagues has tried their best to overcome new challenges.


Binh Quoi 1 Resort team approached the semi-final round with the same tactic. They passed over expensive imported ingredients and looked for Vietnamese regional specialties. Under their skillful hands, rustic ingredients were combined and transformed to luxurious dishes, such as Truc Linh vegetable rolled calf shank, served with wild pepper sauce; Crabmeat paste and foie gras, served with salted lime fish sauce; Seafood in Nganh leaves sauce, serve with pomelo salad, mint leaves, and roasted sesame; Ngoc Linh chicken and bamboo shoot, Dit leaves, and Morel mushroom, served with fresh rice noodles; and honey yam cake filled lotus seed and artichoke paste.

2. Chef Anh Duy said that each dish contained spices and ingredients of all over Viet Nam, from highlands to plains, from forests to oceans. Those were results of their journeys, meeting and learning, researching and discovering the beauty of Vietnamese cuisine. For examples, the appetizer was combination of Truc Linh vegetables from coastal Phu Yen, wild pepper seeds from Kon Tum forests, and Tay Ninh calf shank. Truc Linh is an interesting vegetable with a sweet and spicy taste, and it is used to reduce motion sickness.


Truc Linh vegetable, a herbaceous plant in coastal Phu Yen.

Using calf shank instead of beef was a brilliantly experienced solution of chef Anh Duy. “Beef is hard to handle because just a little overcooked, it will be chewy while overcooked calf shank can remain its tenderness and sweetness”, said chef Anh Duy. Calf slices, Truc Linh vegetables, mangoes, and tips of coconut tree (sliced and soaked in ice water) were rolled in fresh rice-sheet (bánh ướt). The sauce was made from fermented soybeans, wild pepper seeds, and other seasonings to taste (salt, honey, sesame). They collected those pepper seeds in Kon Tum, which are half size of normal pepper but the flavor is much more condensed. “Grinded peppers is added only when the sauce is cool so that pepper essence would not vaporize”, explained chef Anh Duy.


Truc Linh vegetables and calf shank rolls, served with wild pepper sauce – Crabmeat paste and foie gras, served with salted lime fish sauce.

Another appetizer, a combination of fatty Van Dinh foie gras and sweet Ca Mau crabmeat leading by featured seasoning of Vietnam – Phu Quoc fish sauce, was a different experience of diners. Goose livers were marinated with pepper, garlic juice, and sautéed salt then thinly sliced and rolled in pastry wrapper with crabmeat, mushroom, taro, and green onion. The rolls were deep-fried till brown. Remarkable ingredients of the jelly-like sauce included Phu Quoc fish sauce, grinded salted kaffir limes, a pinch of hot pepper, kumquat juice, and kaffir lime leaves.


Seafood in Nganh leaves sauce, served with mint leaves, roasted sesame, and pomelo salad.

Chef Anh Duy said that Binh Quoi 1 resort has usually held (or attended) culinary festivals so that he has had chances to taste diverse dishes from all over the country. Moreover, from the first time chef Anh Duy and his team enrolled in The Golden Spoon contest with the topic “Journeys of Vietnamese spices”, they have made time to travel many places to look for exotic regional spices as well as to learn new cooking methods. Their main dishes were the result of the whole journey, in which the transition dish was a meeting of forests and oceans. Binh Ba lobsters (small size) were divided, one part was boiled in sugar cane juice within 10 minutes and sliced while the other one was mixed with powder from lemon grass fruits (a spicy fruit from Ba To mountain, Quang Ngai province) then sautéed. They also used Nganh Nganh leaves (Cratoxylum cochinchinense), a sour wild leaf, to make sauce, together with Ming aralia leaves, dills, mint, and culantro (Eryngium foetidum).

The chosen seafood was eel fish from streams. Eel fish was cleaned, marinated with Mac Khen powder – a famous Northern highland spice - then grilled on charcoals. Bird chili, jaggery, and fish sauce were thickened to serving sauce. Side dish went together with seafood was pomelo salad, mixed with roasted sesame, fish sauce, lime juice, jaggery, and mint leaves.


Ngoc Linh chicken with bamboo shoot, Dit leaves, morel mushroom, served with fresh rice noodles.

In that main course, chefs of Binh Quoi 1 Resort wanted to introduce Kon Tum spanking poultry – Ngoc Linh chicken. This type of chickens are free raised in their habitat and they usually eat herbal roots, such as Vietnamese ginseng, so that their flesh are firm and much more flavorful than other types. Chef Anh Duy said that he had order genuine Ngoc Linh chicken, which live freely and sleep on trees so farmers have to catch them by traps or net. Ngoc Linh chicken was cleaned, chopped, marinated with lemongrass, hot pepper, fish sauce, and smashed Giang leaves (a sour leaf) then stir-fried. In the mean time, bamboo shoot and Dit leaves were soaked, blanched, and stewed together. Ultimate quality Morel mushroom, which originally comes from France but lately it has been farm raised in Da Lat city, was stuffed by chicken breast and stewed together with seasonings to taste.

3. Last round, Binh Quoi 1 Resort also won the 1 prize (co-winner) with significant dishes that professional judge – super chef David Thai had to praise, “Excellent decoration! Every dish link to each other as a harmonic concert. Every dish has its own unique flavor.” That “concert” once again was rebuilt in the dessert of this round. Diners were led to Quang Binh plantation by Honey yam cake filled with artichoke and lotus seed. Raw honey yam was grinded to smooth flour and yam flour was mixed with sweet-rice flour, rock sugar, vanilla, and natural purple color (from Cam leaves). The dough was steamed in molds. On top of the cake was shaped so that they could fill artichoke and lotus seed paste in. Meanwhile, other yams were chopped into small cubes and cooked in coconut milk broth with jaggery, roasted sesame, and pandan leaves. Chefs symmetrically placed cakes on dishes and garnished yam cubes, gold flakes, kiwi, and crystal shapes.


Honey yam cake filled with artichoke and lotus seed paste.

Elite artist – Guest judge Kim Xuan profusely commended, “Crabmeat paste and foie gras are delicious while side vegetables are really tender. Its appearance is also nice and neat. Usually people would be fed up when they have to taste a lot but it does not happen with your dishes. Your appetizers keep diners’ appetite. Your seafood dishes, yes, have so many Vietnamese spices. Enough spicy and really smooth. I have to admit that the chicken is tasty while Morel mushroom brings an intertersing taste. Passion fruit and milk popping balls are interesting, too, when you feel the pop-up sound in your mouth. Very invested. Very talented. Your dishes are not only tasty and dainty but they also help diners to remain their appetite.

That unique and delicate menu helped Binh Quoi 1 Resort team once again to win the semi-final round and the team received 50 million vnd as 1st prize reward. That was the 4th time Binh Quoi 1 Resort team seizing a ticket to the final round of The Golden Spoon contest. “I’m not afraid of participating this contest such so many times because the more you practice, the more have you learned. Culinary career requires relentless practising, learning, and creating in every day. Once you stop digesting new things, you immediately miss a chance to subdue progressive needs of your diners”, sincerely shared chef Anh Duy.

By Nguyen Trang

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