Available in : Vietnamese
Flowers hold a special place in the Vietnamese culture: symbolically, and spiritually but also in gastronomy. If you visit northwest Vietnam during spring, you may have the opportunity to taste the Bauhinia soup. This soup is made of white petals from the flowers of Hoa Ban or Bauhinia. The flowers are fried and then added to the broth. They are also cooked with salt, wild pepper, coriander, garlic, and chili. Grapefruit blossoms are used to prepare a sweet essence to enhance the taste of sweet broth while dried flowers of Frangipani, give a useful infusion against hypertension. The use of banana flowers is also very common in salads with chicken, ground beef, and seafood or in the bún bò Hue, a delicious beef vermicelli soup, a specialty of the city of Huê. This flower is rich in vitamin E and flavonoids, so it is an excellent source of antioxidants for your diet. Vietnamese cuisine also use and cook Zucchini flowers stuffed or fried.
The Lotus, the national flower symbol of purity and moral elevation, also enters in the preparation of many dishes. Indeed, everything is eatable in the lotus, from the root to the fruit, passing by the stem of the young leaves and the flower. Known for their benefits in alternative medicine, lotus seeds are used for their anti-diarrheal or sedative and calming properties, but also for their antispasmodic effects helping the blood to dilate in the vessels thus reducing blood pressure.
In case of insolation, they also allow regulating the temperature of the body. Rich in fiber, the rhizomes are excellent for digestion and low fever, stop nosebleeds (in the form of root juice), treat diarrhea, or strengthen the immune functions. The green heart of seeds, very bitter, which is removed before eating the grains, is used in natural decoction or in combination with other elements, among other things to treat insomnia, anxiety, or to lower blood pressure and heart palpitations.
Lotus – Rhizome or root
Pale yellow on the outside and white on the inside, the rhizome is eaten peeled, sliced, raw or cooked, salted or sweet. Crunchy raw, tender, and slightly floury, the rhizome is most often cooked on the wok (củ sen xào gà), boiled in a soup (canh củ sen giò heo), fried or confit for tea (mứt củ sen).
Lotus – Peduncles or stems
White once peeled, the peduncles are sold by boots. Raw or boiled quickly in boiling water, the peduncles are tasteless but very crispy. They are usually used for salads (gỏi ngó sen) or served marinated in vinegar and sugar (pickles of lotus stems).
The large fresh leaves are mainly used to cover and flavor the steamed lotus rice (cơm hấp sen) or the chicken rice wrapped in a lotus leaf as in China, or to flavor young green rice (cốm) in northern Vietnam.
The cream-colored lotus seeds, with their soft green husks, come from the lotus fruit in the form of a watering apple containing more than twenty seeds each. The seeds have the size of large fresh hazelnuts and have a crunchy texture when they are raw. The taste is very sweet and slightly astringent. It is necessary to get rid of the very bitter green heart (Tem Sen) used in decoction in Vietnamese medicine for its sedatives effects. Raw or cooked in broth, steam, water, wok, lotus seeds are prepared for salty dishes such as steamed rice with lotus leaves (cơm hấp sen), poultry (chicken, duck, quail) or pigeon …) with lotus seeds, soups. Cooked, the lotus seeds have the texture of floury chestnut.
Lotus flower petals
White or pale pink, the highly fragrant flower petals are mostly used to decorate the lotus dishes. However, it is also possible to use sweetened fried lotus flower petals (cánh Hoa sen chiên). The petals are coated with wheat flour, egg, and sugar, then dipped in a hot oil bath, like tempura.
Stamens are the essence of lotus fragrance. Its primary function in Vietnam is to perfume the tea leaves to make the famous lotus tea (trà ou chè sen).
Lotus salad with shrimps
For 3/4 people
250 g of lotus stems
8 medium-sized (or large) shrimp cooked and peeled
1 carrot peeled and finely cut in julienne
2 to 3 tablespoons of Polygonum (Rau răm) leaves and/or mint washed and stripped, chopped Optional: 1 chopped red pepper
1 ½ lime in a hurry
1 tablespoon caster sugar
¼ teaspoon fine salt
1 handful of crushed roasted peanuts or 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame
1 tablespoon of deep-fried onion
Sweet and sour nuoc mam sauce
2 tablespoons pure nuoc mam (fish brine)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons squeezed lime juice
6 tablespoons hot water
1 clove of garlic pressed
1 red pepper or ½ teaspoon chili puree
Sweet and sour nuoc mam sauce
Peel and finely chop the garlic.
Optional: Chop the red pepper into slices.
In a saucepan over high heat, combine sugar, water, and pure Nuoc mam until the sugar is dissolved. Switch off. Let cool before adding the lime juice, garlic, and chili. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Rinse and drain the lotus stems. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add the lotus stems and mix thoroughly. Marinate 30 minutes, reserve.
Peel and cut the carrots into a fine julienne. Add them and mix them with the lotus stems. Cook the whole shrimps with their shells in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Take them out and let them cool before removing the head, tail, and shells. Slice in half. Keep on the side.
Wash the stems of Rau ram (polygonum or coriander Vietnamese), dry, pluck, and chisel. Add and mix 1 tablespoon chopped Rau ram with marinated lotus and carrot stalks.
Roughly crush the roasted peanuts or toast the white sesame seeds in a hot pan until they become golden brown.
Place the salad in a salad bowl or on a large plate. In both cases, place the marinated vegetables first, then arrange the half-prawns on the surface, sprinkle with peanuts or sesame seeds, the fried onion, the rest of the chopped Rau ram, and, lastly, sprinkle with hot sauce.
Serve with Shrimp chips on the side
Available in : Vietnamese