Y&S FOOD! GOES TO VIETNAM

From the 11th till the 30th September 2017 we will be in Vietnam.

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With an estimated 92.7 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the world’s 14th-most-populous country, and the ninth-most-populous Asian country. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, with Ho Chi Minh City as a historical city as well.

The northern part of Vietnam was part of Imperial China for over a millennium, from 111 BC to AD 939. An independent Vietnamese state was formed in 939, following a Vietnamese victory in the Battle of Bạch Đằng River. Successive Vietnamese imperial dynasties flourished as the nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonised by the French in the mid-19th century.

Following a Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War, eventually expelling the French in 1954. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North Vietnam (officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam), and South Vietnam (officially the Republic of Vietnam). Conflict between the two sides intensified in what is known as the Vietnam War, with heavy intervention by the United States on the side of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1973. The war ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

Vietnam was then unified under a Marxist-Leninist government but remained impoverished and politically isolated. In 1986, the government initiated a series of economic and political reforms which began Vietnam’s path towards integration into the world economy. By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with all nations. Since 2000, Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world, and, in 2011, it had the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies. Its successful economic reforms resulted in its joining the World Trade Organisation in 2007. It is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Vietnam remains one of the world’s four remaining one-party socialist states officially espousing communism.

Vietnamese cuisine encompasses the foods and beverages of Vietnam, and features a combination of five fundamental tastes (Vietnamese: ngũ vị) in the overall meal. Each Vietnamese dish has a distinctive flavor which reflects one or more of these elements. Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and Thai basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.

Vietnamese cuisine encompasses the foods and beverages of Vietnam, and features a combination of five fundamental tastes (Vietnamese: ngũ vị) in the overall meal. Each Vietnamese dish has a distinctive flavor which reflects one or more of these elements. Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and Thai basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.

The mainstream culinary traditions in all three regions of Vietnam share some fundamental features:

  • Freshness of food: Most meats are only briefly cooked. Vegetables are eaten fresh; if they are cooked, they are boiled or only briefly stir-fried.
  • Presence of herbs and vegetables: Herbs and vegetables are essential to many Vietnamese dishes and are often abundantly used.
  • Variety and harmony of textures: Crisp with soft, watery with crunchy, delicate with rough.
  • Broths or soup-based dishes are common in all three regions.
  • Presentation: The condiments accompanying Vietnamese meals are usually colorful and arranged in eye-pleasing manners.

While sharing some key features, Vietnamese culinary tradition differs from region to region. Vietnam, a colder climate limits the production and availability of spices. As a result, the foods there are often less spicy than those in other regions. Black pepper is used in place of chilies as the most popular ingredient to produce spicy flavors. In general, northern Vietnamese cuisine is not bold in any particular taste — sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, or sour. Most northern Vietnamese foods feature light and balanced flavors that result from subtle combinations of many different flavouring ingredients. The use of meats such as pork, beef, and chicken were relatively limited in the past. Freshwater fish, crustaceans, and molluscs, such as prawns, squids, shrimps, crabs, clams, and mussels, are widely used. Many notable dishes of northern Vietnam are crab-centred (e.g., bún riêu). Fish sauce, soy sauce, prawn sauce, and limes are among the main flavouring ingredients. Being the cradle of Vietnamese civilisation, northern Vietnam produces many signature dishes of Vietnam, such as bún riêu and bánh cuốn, which were carried to central and southern Vietnam through Vietnamese migration. Other famous Vietnamese dishes that originated from the North, particularly from Hanoi include “bún chả” (rice noodle with grilled marinated pork), phở gà (rice noodle with chicken), chả cá Lã Vọng (rice noodle with grilled fish).

The abundance of spices produced by central Vietnam’s mountainous terrain makes this region’s cuisine notable for its spicy food, which sets it apart from the two other regions of Vietnam where foods are mostly not spicy. Once the capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam, Huế’s culinary tradition features highly decorative and colorful food, reflecting the influence of ancient Vietnamese royal cuisine. The region’s cuisine is also notable for its sophisticated meals consisting of many complex dishes served in small portions. Chili peppers and shrimp sauces are among the frequently used ingredients. Some Vietnamese signature dishes produced in central Vietnam are bún bò Huế and bánh khoái.

The warm weather and fertile soil of southern Vietnam create an ideal condition for growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and livestock. As a result, foods in southern Vietnam are often vibrant and flavorful, with liberal uses of garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs. Sugar is added to food more than in the other regions. The preference for sweetness in southern Vietnam can also be seen through the widespread use of coconut milk in southern Vietnamese cuisine. Vast shorelines make seafood a natural staple for people in this region.

Y&S FOOD! GOES TO OSAKA & KOBE – JAPAN

From the 3rd till the 10th September 2017 we will be in Osaka & Kobe – Japan.

Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and the largest component of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants. Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is the second largest city in Japan by daytime population after Tokyo’s 23 wards and the third largest city by nighttime population after Tokyo’s 23 wards and Yokohama, serving as a major economic hub for the country.

Historically a merchant city, Osaka has also been known as the “nation’s kitchen” (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro) and served as a center for the rice trade during the Edo period.

Osaka is known for its food, in Japan and abroad. Author Michael Booth and food critic François Simon of Le Figaro have suggested that Osaka is the food capital of the world. Osakans’ love for the culinary is made apparent in the old saying “Kyotoites are financially ruined by overspending on clothing, Osakans are ruined by spending on food. Regional cuisine includes okonomiyaki (お好み焼き, pan-fried batter cake), takoyaki (たこ焼き, octopus in fried batter), udon (うどん, a noodle dish), as well as the traditional oshizushi (押し寿司, pressed sushi), particularly battera (バッテラ, pressed mackerel sushi).

Osaka is known for its fine sake, which is made with fresh water from the prefecture’s mountains. Osaka’s culinary prevalence is the result of a location that has provided access to high quality ingredients, a high population of merchants, and proximity to the ocean and waterway trade. In recent years, Osaka has started to garner more attention from foreigners with the increased popularity of cooking and dining in popular culture.

Kobe beef (神戸ビーフ Kōbe bīfu) (KO-BEH) refers to beef from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle, raised in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture according to rules as set out by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. The meat is a delicacy renowned for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyakishabu shabusashimi, and teppanyaki. Kobe beef is generally considered one of the three top brands (known as Sandai Wagyuu, “the three big beefs”), along with Matsusaka beef and Ōmi beef or Yonezawa beef.

Cattle were introduced in Japan in the second century as work animals used for rice cultivation. Because of Japan’s “difficult terrain and sparse arable land” due in part to its mountainous topography, cattle were bred in small, isolated regions, yielding herds with unique qualities in their meat.

After the Meiji Restoration, beef consumption remained low, but it has steadily increased since the end of World War II. Kobe beef grew in popularity and extended its global reach in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the late 19th century, native Japanese cattle were interbred with European breeds, including Brown Swiss, Shorthorn, and Devon. The cattle originally recognized in 1943 as “Kobe beef” were cattle from herds in the Kobe area of Japan, and could be any of four breeds of Wagyu cattle—Akaushi (Japanese Red/Brown), Kuroushi (Japanese Black), Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. Tajima is a strain of the Japanese Black, the most populous breed (around 90% of the four breeds).

In 1983, the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association was formed to define and promote the Kobe trademark. It sets standards for animals to be labeled as Kobe beef.

In 2009, the USDA placed a ban on the import of all Japanese beef to prevent the Japan foot-and-mouth outbreak from reaching US shores. The ban was relaxed in August, 2012. Shortly thereafter, Kobe beef was imported into the US for the first time.