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Nutritious food from black silk chicken and Mugwort cake

Monday, 01/16/2017 08:10
Delicious and nutritious dishes, which are Northern Highlands’ specialties, surprised judges and audiences in The Golden Spoon 2016.

Marvelous Mugwort cakes

Chef Dinh Trong Giang and his colleagues from Dung Tan restaurant (Thai Nguyen province) brought their marvelous and nourishing dishes to The Golden Spoon contest, and Mugwort cake – a specialty of Tay minority in Lang Son - was one of them.

Once chef Giang contingently had this food and he had been immediately fallen for it. He made effort to find its recipes, its accurate ingredients, and process.

Minorities in Northern Highlands have different recipes but the main ingredients always include local sweet rice, peanuts, green beans, brown sugar, grated fresh coconut, and of course, Mugwort leaves.

After 2 years of experiences, chef Giang realized that Mugwort cake sounded simple but the every step required high concentration or one mistake could ruin the whole process.


Mugwort cakes.

First, sweet rice was cleaned and steamed until well done. Mugwort tips were boiled in natural lye water, which was made by burning green bean husks, diluting in boil water, and filtering to get pure liquid. “This natural lye is not harmful to people at all”, said chef Dinh Trong Giang.

Cooked sweet rice and boiled Mugwort leaves would be milled until blended and the dough would be chewy and clammy. Mugwort cake’s filling was made from green beans, grated coconut, and sugar. Shaped dough would be steamed about 5 – 10 minutes.

Qualified products should be chewy yet tender and have Mugwort flavor without bitter taste. Mugwort cakes are usually served with crushed peanuts or black sesames, grated coconut, and a cup of Voi tea (Syzygium nervosum).

According to Tay minority, Mugwort cakes are really healthy and they even can help to reduce headache or cold symptoms.

“We serve Mugwort cakes with cinnamon cakes and Voi tea. This combination gradually reduce the sweetness of the course”, said chef Giang about his alternation.


Nice decoration Mugwort cakes.

Delicious dishes from black silk chickens

Black silk chickens are not new to diners. However, those unique black silk chickens were from far-away Northern villages of Mong minority.

In The Golden Spoon contest 2016, Chef Nguyen Van Quy from Quy’s kitchen restaurant (Lao Cai province) had proved the unique and diverse Northern Highland cuisine by stewed black silk chicken in bamboo tube.

The distinguished points of this chicken type are black from skin, flesh, to bones. They are natural raised by Mong people in their habitat, and their biggest sizes are about 1.5 – 1.7kg.

The best black silk chicken should be young, about 1.2kg. After preparation, the whole cleaned chicken (or chopped) would be marinated in 30 minutes.

Side ingredients needed young corn grains and wild ginseng roots to sweeten the broth. Instead of normal pots or containers, the chicken and side ingredients were stuffed into a big bamboo tube and that tube would be steamed around 1 hour.

Stewed chicken is a common dish of Mong people and usually served with sweet rice or regular rice. “Mong people have the dish all year round. It’s especially good for pregnant and postpartum women. Different minorities have different keys and standards for ingredients, but the second most important element is bamboo tube as well. Bamboo tubes should be mature enough but not too young or too old so that the final product will be perfect”, commented chef Quy.


Stewed black silk chickens with wild ginseng flowers.

With the same type of black silk chicken, chef Le Van Hung from Aristo International hotel (Lao Cai province) brought another dish, black silk chicken soup with wild ginseng flowers (Panax pseudoginseng).

Each ideal black silk chicken and herbs (dried longan, wild ginseng flowers, and dang-shen roots (Codonopsis pilosula)) could make 4 bowls of soup. Chickens were cleaned by salt, chopped then stewed with cleaned herbs. Dang-shen roots and dried longan already provided sweetness so a teaspoon of salt was enough to taste.

“Aroma of wild ginseng flowers will dominate the dish but we need to make sure their bitter taste won’t spoil the broth. Dang-shen roots have a strong aroma, too, so we just need a bit of them”, said chef Hung.

This black silk chicken soup can be served in breakfast, lunch, or dinner and it is quite nutritious for postpartum women.

Although black silk chicken soup might be good with common side dishes, chef Hung recommended having it separately to taste all the best-chosen flavors of Northern Highlands.

By V.V.Tuan/ Tuoitre

Translator: Thu Pham

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