Wine with Vietnamese cuisine

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Many people do not associate Vietnamese food with wine but think again. First what makes Vietnamese food special? It’s those fragrant elements which play an important role in just about every dish in the Vietnamese cuisine canon. Each dish could really have its own bottled fragrance. L’eau de Pho would be redolent of mint, cilantro, lemongrass, garlic, star anise, and ginger, with long-simmered beef bones, tear-inducing chilies, and the essential drops of fish sauce. If you are thinking of Vietnamese food for dinner be adventurous and order at least half a dozen different dishes and share with friends over a selection of wine. Now what would be the perfect wine to pair with these fragrant dishes?

Chopstic_wineThe range of flavors from spicy to sweet, to salty then sour variations within each bite can make pairing even more confusing. White wines, in general pair well, but dry Rieslings, dry Gewurztraminer, dry Rosés, many Viogniers, and Champagne (or Sparkling Whites or Rosés not from Champagne) are best because these wines tend to have a crisp, brightness, as well as a touch of sweetness that goes with the varying delicate, strong and often spicy Asian flavors. They combine well with hot, chili flavors. Particularly the slight sweetness of the dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminer handle the spiciness very well. They seem to cleanse ones palate of some of the flames, so that as you eat and sip, your mouth goes “Oooh!” “Ahhh” “Oooh!” “Ahhh!” It becomes a beautiful dance of fire and refreshment.
The heavier, fatty, salty meat dishes have always been complimented by reds
The reds that tend to work best are Syrahs, Pinot Noir, many Rhone reds (go Gigondas and Chateauneuf de Pape!), and the occasional Zinfandel.

920x920Three favourite Vietnamese Dishes with wine:

Bo La Lot (Grilled Beef wrapped in Wild Betal Leaves)
One of our favorite dishes calls for one of our favorite wines, the spunky, brash and peppery Zinfandel. Well, maybe not an over-the-top Zin, but a tasty well balanced Zinfandel. The la lot leaves (for those who haven’t tried them yet) have a unique, peppery quality, which combined with the beef and the smokiness from the grilling lead up to this Zin – Bo La Lot pairing. Pinot Noir or most all red Rhone blends would also be great. I really like a nice Gigondas with the Bo La Lot. Dry rosés are good to, especially in summer, and a Sauvignon blanc to compliment the peppery la lot is a nice choice for a white wine.

Mizuna Mustard Green and Shrimp Salad
With the nuoc cham based dressing, a dry Riesling (or Gewurztraminer) is a great choice. Sauvignon blanc, Champagne (particularly a Rosé), or a dry rose wine would also be winners. The Riesling (or Gewurztraminer) is the ideal choice, though, for a couple reasons. The sweetness of the shrimp is easier to pair with any of the aforementioned wines, but the spiciness of the nuoc cham complicate matters a bit. However, the Riesling is up to both challenges and shines with this dish.

Black Pepper Pork Banh Mi
For this one we might lean more towards a fruitier red. Something like a Syrah, or Pinot Noir. Of course, Champagne (particularly a Rosé Champ.) or a dry rosé would also be yummy.
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Cinghiale in dolceforte – Wild Boar in Red Wine and Bitter Chocolate

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This traditional Tuscan recipe dates back to the early 1500s, evolving between the Renaissence and the Baroque. Cinghiale in Dolceforte is a complex dish involving nearly twenty ingredients, creating multiple layers of flavor. It’s a great supper dish for cold weather, or a very impressive dinner party main dish, and it can be served with Creamy Polenta. The dish has an exuberant layering of flavors and use of candied fruits, nuts, bitter  chocolate and red wine, Italian chefs often prefer using half and half: Port and Tuscan red wine for cooking, and the choice of a Tuscan red wine to drink with this dish in an interesting one,  Un Chianti Classico oppure, perché no?, un Brunello di Montalcino…. From Chianti Classico to Brunello di Montalcino….. Read Darren Gall’s wine choices…

The Blood Of Jove: http://www.urban-flavours.com/2014/12/the-blood-of-jove/sfondo_bdv_tignanello_0-630x367

THE RECIPE

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Ingredients

  • MARINADE:
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • STEW:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried red chili pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 pounds wild boar, (if unavailable: stew beef, pork shoulder or other game meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • (Strained marinade liquid; see above)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dried prunes, coarsely chopped (plumped in a small amount of warm water, then drained well)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (plumped in a small amount of warm water, then drained well)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), grated
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Freshly parsley leaves, finely chopped, for garnish
Preparation

For the marinade:

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring all of the marinade ingredients to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool completely. Submerge the chopped raw meat in the marinade and refrigerate, covered, for 48 hours.

Strain the meat and vegetables out of the liquid (retaining the marinade liquid). Separate meat from vegetables and discard vegetables and bay leaf.

For the stew:

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the garlic in the olive oil just until it turns lightly golden. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute until vegetables are softened and onion is transparent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chili pepper flakes and saute for another 30 seconds. Stir in the prosciutto and saute for about 1 minute.

Pat the pieces of meat with a paper towel until dried well, then add to the pot and stir just until browned. Pour in the strained marinade liquid and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the bay leaf. prunes and sugar and return to a simmer. Cover and let simmer over low heat until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.

When meat is tender, stir in the orange zest, raisins, pine nuts, and grated chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and all ingredients are well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as necessary.

Serve over creamy bowls of polenta, sprinkled with finely chopped fresh parsley or nipitella.

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Buon appetito da Jess Andrenelli

Asian Noir

 

Read Darren Gall’s beautifully considered article on the perfect wine to pair with Asian, Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine:

Asian Noir published on Urban Flavours

tumblr_ml3tfdiJb01r8zvzyo1_1280-2-612x220“A cleaved chunk of greasy pork, bobbing up and down, its final throws in a warm sea of noodles, spices, herbs and don’t ask what. A large porcelain bowl -chipped and cracked and stained with a drunken soy calligraphy, relics of a thousand dishes past…………… http://www.urban-flavours.com/2013/09/asian-noir

Rigatoni al Granchio – Recipe

Rigatoni sugo granchi

This recipe celebrates all that is delicious about crab. The combined sweetness of the crab and tomatoes is a great flavour match for the fresh, aniseedy kick of the fennel.

 

olive oil
2 large fennel bulbs
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, stalks finely chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 lemons
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
250 g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
500 g rigatoni, dried or fresh
250 g undressed brown crabmeat, from sustainable sources
250 g white crabmeat, from sustainable sources

 

Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Peel and finely chop the outer layers of the fennel. Set the leafy tops and inner hearts aside to make a salad later. Add the chopped fennel and garlic to the pan and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until soft.

Add the parsley stalks, chilli flakes, cinnamon and fennel seeds to the pan and fry for 2–3 minutes. Finely grate in the zest from your 2 lemons (reserve the lemons) and add the tinned tomatoes. Sit the cherry tomatoes, vines and all, on top to poach. Cover, reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

While the pasta and sauce are cooking away, crack on with the salad. Push the reserved fennel hearts and one of the zested lemons through the thinnest slicing attachment on your food processor – or use a mandolin (or a knife). Tip into a bowl and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the reserved fennel tops and gently toss with your fingers. Put aside until you’re ready to serve.

Check the tomato sauce – it should look rich and glossy and the tomatoes should be soft and squashy. Carefully pick out and discard the vine, leaving the tomatoes in the pan. Gently stir in the brown crabmeat and let it heat up.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of cooking water, then gently fold it through the ragù with the white crabmeat, adding a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Serve the pasta on a lovely big platter with the fennel salad bang on top so you can mix and toss the two together as you serve. Chop the remaining lemon into wedges and serve on the side for squeezing over. The mix of flavours is a knockout!

BUON APPETITO!!!!

Polpette Di Melanzane

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The cooking of Puglia, the region that encompasses the ‘heel’ of the Italian peninsula on the Adriatic Sea, deserves to be much better known. It practically defines the Mediterranean diet, with a strong focus on simply prepared fruits of the sea and fresh produce like fava beans, cime di rape and eggplant. Puglia produces some of the best olive oil in Italy, of the deep green, fruity kind, which is used with abandon in the region’s dishes.

 

Ingredients

1 medium eggplant
100g grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 clove garlic
A handful of parsley
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs (as much as needed)
Olive oil for frying
Directions

Roast the eggplant, whole and unpeeled, in a hot (200°C/400°F) oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it cool a bit. Skin the eggplant and place the flesh into a food processor. (If you find the flesh is watery, gently squeeze out the excess liquid with some paper towels.) Add the remaining ingredients (other than the bread crumbs) and process until well amalgamated and fairly smooth.
Then, spoonful by spoonful, and using the pulse function on your processor, mix in bread crumbs until the mixture holds together into a soft but workable paste. (Use only as much as you need, no more.)
Take a bit of the mixture at a time, form little ‘meatballs’. Shallow fry the meatballs in olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil, until golden brown on all sides.

BUON APPETITO!!!

Italian Food Tour – This week Calabria

Most of the cuisine of Calabria is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean and is often spicy. Pasta dishes with peppers, onions and sausage sauteed with or without sauce are very common. Frittatas made with pasta and sausage are also prevalent. Eggplant/Aubergine is a favorite dish in the region and is served in a variety of ways, Ciambotta, stewed aubergine, tomatoes and potatoes seasoned with onion and peppers, is eaten either hot or cold. In Calabrian cuisine, pork is the preferred meat. Preserving meat as sausage, ham and salame keeps it fresh through the year. Murseddu is a savory pork and veal liver pie seasoned with tomato and peppers and Capocollo di Calabria is a tender pork marinated with vinegar, massaged and pressed with whole black peppercorns. Anime Beate, a sweet pastry pocket-style dessert is a traditional sweet and another local favourite is Torrone di Bagnara, a sweet nougat.

 

Polpette di Melanzane – Aubergine medallionsimages

Maccheroncini Salsiccia & Oliva – Fresh handmade pasta with aromatised sausage meat and olives.279855_2212872331664_1543210054_2358045_1647251_o

Maiale all’Aceto – Pork tenderloin cooked in a cherry vinegar sauce.dsc_0279

Anime Beate – Calabrian style doughnuts filled with chocolate.baos

Buon appetito!

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Recipe – Sarde in Saor – an antipasto with fresh sardines

One of my favourite Italian antipasti, perfect for an aperitif is sarde in saor – fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions, usually with vinegar, raisins and pine nuts, all preferably prepared the day before serving. sarde-in-saor-feature-101

The sharpness of the vinegar wakens the tastebuds, while the sweetness of the odd raisin here or there and the creamy nuttiness of the pine nuts balances the sourness. It is the ultimate sweet and sour, or agrodolce, dish.

Sarde in Saor
12 fresh sardines, cleaned, heads and backbone removed and butterflied
Flour for dusting
Vegetable, seed or olive oil for frying
Some white wine
a handful of raisins
1 white onion
250 ml of white wine vinegar
1 clove, ground or crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground or crushed
freshly ground black pepper
a handful of pine nuts
Dust the sardine fillets in flour and deep fry in plenty of oil until golden and crisp. Season with salt and set aside on some paper towel to drain until needed.
Soak the raisins in some white wine to soften them. Meanwhile, slice the white onion finely and saute gently in some olive oil until they are transparent, then add the vinegar, pepper and spices. Let it cook for a few minutes then remove from heat.
In a small terrine or deep dish, place a layer of sardines, top them with some of the onions, some of the raisins (drained) and pine nuts, and continue layering until the sardines are used up, then top with a layer of onions, raisins, pine nuts and finish with the vinegar sauce poured over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate at least 24 hours before serving.
Serve as part of an antipasto, together with a selection of olives and crostini. These are best eaten at room temperature, removing from the fridge a couple of hours beforehand.

Recipe – Saltinbocca Alla Romana – Veal escalopes wrapped with prosciutto, sage & lemon

To celebrate September’s food tour to Lazio, we have chosen one of the special dishes from the menu:piatto-pronto-bicchieri-tovagliolo-azzurro_dettaglio_ricette_slider_grande3

SALTINBOCCA This classic Italian recipe for veal means ‘jump in the mouth’ – serve it with crusty bread to soak up the delicious pan juices. Buon appetito.

Bash out the escalopes until they are about 5mm thick. Place a sage leaf on each one, wrap with the prosciutto, then press another sage leaf on top and flatten out with your hand. Dust lightly with the seasoned flour. ( flour seasoned with black pepper and a pinch of salt) Heat the oil and the butter in a large frying pan until foaming, and fry the veal for 4-5 mins on each side until the prosciutto is crisp, then remove from the pan. Add the Marsala wine to the pan and sizzle to make a sauce. Add the lemon juice to taste. Put the veal back in the pan to heat through, then serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

Ingredients

3 veal escalopes, about 150g each
6 sage leaves
6 slices prosciutto
50g plain flour, seasoned
splash olive oil
small knobs of butter
200ml marsala wine
juice ½ lemon

September’s Italian Food in Hanoi

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A restaurant is a fantasy – A kind of living fantasy in which diners are the most important members of the cast. – Warner LeRoy

Cooking done with care is an act of love – Craig Claiborne

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Special Main Course of the week – Petto oli Pollo Fritto Con Asparagi

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I love that moment of dipping a spoon into a creamy Panna Cotta, the perfect dessert .

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Pork Belly for a beautiful Friday night.10394621_351842848299764_2640162825828820302_n

Venetian recipe: Baccalà Mantecato – Whipped Cod Mousse

news-dried_salted_cod_fishYou cannot talk about Venetian food without talking about the ‘chicheto’, that wonderful ritual bite to eat with a sparkling glass of Spritz or an Ombra, a glass of local wine. And you cannot talk about the ‘chicheto’ without mentioning the Baccalà Mantecato: Dried Atlantic cod, soaked, poached and whipped into a mousse, then spread on a slice of baguette or grilled polenta.

Ingredients

700 gramms of unsalted Baccalà (stockfish already soaked) or if unable to source the dried fish, fresh Cod maybe used. 2 Cloves of garlic, half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.

Method

Place the Baccalà in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, add garlic and bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the fish is tender. Drain the fish and keep aside a little of the water, remove the garlic and the skin and any bones, then place in a bowl. While the fish is still hot begin whipping the fish into a cream, using a wooden spoon and at the same time add a thin slow drizzle of olive oil. Continue whipping until the fish reaches a creamy mousse like consistency. This is easiest with two people, otherwise just pause now and then to add the olive oil in stages. You might need to add a spoon or two of the cooking water if it is too dense, this will depend on the quality of the stock fish and how long it was soaked prior to poaching. After season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt.

Serve on Polenta or slices of Baguette, garnish with chopped parsley leaves scattered on top and a little ground nutmeg.