Life in Vietnam

Sunday, 04/11/2018 09:00

Vietnamese girl aspires to promote Vietnamese cuisines

In the kitchen: Anh cooks bánh xèo - Vietnamese crispy crepe. Photo courtesy of Nguyẽn Khánh Vuong Anh
Viet Nam News

by Luong Thu Huong

Years spent studying abroad and experiencing different cultures and cuisines have helped Nguyẽn Khánh Vuong Anh realise her love for cooking, and especially Vietnamese food.

The 23-year-old, who attends Le Cordon Bleu – the world’s most acclaimed culinary art and hospitality management institute in Sydney – once dreamed of travelling from north to south Viẹt Nam and trying local specialties herself.

She has now fulfilled her dream by launching her own YouTube channel named Vuong Anh’s Cooking Journey, in which she shares her exploration through Vietnamese cuisine in different provinces.

Since July, Anh and her production crew have made 14 short videos in total, 10 of which depict the beautiful landscapes, local customs and unique features of the cuisines in northwest Viẹt Nam as the Tét (Lunar New Year) festival approaches. The other four episodes depict Anh’s experience of local culture and cuisine in Chau Dóc City in the southern province of An Giang, which have recently wrapped filming and will be released in November.

Officially released on July 7, the first episode, which presents Anh’s journey to mountainous Tủa Chùa District in the northern province of Diẹn Bien, has received nearly 60,000 views. Now her culinary YouTube channel has attracted over 26,000 subscribers and received hundreds of messages of encouragement.

Anh’s videos, however, are not just about cooking. What sets them apart is the background of beautiful Vietnamese landscapes, as well as the culture and people of all the places she visits.

During her cooking journey, Anh, who was born in the southern province of Kien Giang and grew up in Hò Chí Minh City, has set foot in many northwestern destinations for the first time, like Cao Phong, Mai Chau in Hoà Bình, Mọc Chau in Son La and Tủa Chùa District in Diẹn Bien.

Amid typical features of each region like traditional stilt houses and orange orchards, Anh cooks local dishes she may be trying for the first time, like mountain duck salad with orange, sticky rice with BBQ mountain pork or veal spring rolls.

“Usually, I would go to the local market in the town I am staying and look for interesting ingredients,” Anh explains. “Then I think about which dish would represent that place. I tried to use the specialties of each region that I visit. Sometimes I would cook the traditional dishes of that region, but other times I would use those ingredients and create my own dishes.”

Among the dishes she makes, the most interesting one is perhaps grilled pigeon with mountain herbs in Tủa Chùa District.

“I used mác khén, a special spice in the northwest region, combined with some other aromatic herbs to marinate the pigeon for grilling. It tasted absolutely amazing. Sharing it with two local boys, with a majestic mountain view, it was an unforgettable memory,” she says.

“Also, the journey of making that dish was very special to me. I attended the unique village market that only occurs once every two weeks. I had the chance to ride a motorcycle on the mountain road, and it was such a fantastic adventure,” Anh adds.

Anh says that she inherited her love for cooking and travelling from her mother, culinary artist Doan Thi Thu Thuy, who is also among the top three finalists of Master Chef Viẹt Nam.

“My mother inspires me a lot, and she had significant influence on my concept of cooking and Vietnamese food. She always learned new techniques and tips to improve her recipes, and I admire her for that. She never thinks that her cooking skills and methods are the best; there is always room for improvement. That’s why I keep learning and exploring with an open mind and heart," Anh says.

“My mother and I both believe in the potential of Vietnamese food around the world. There are a lot of amazing but unfamiliar dishes that not many people have tried before. It is our goal to collect and introduce those dishes to the world.”

It was her mother’s first book, Hành Trình Món Viẹt (Journey of Vietnamese Food), that stood as the inspiration for the young girl to launch her cooking channel.

“In the book, she travelled to all significant cities and provinces from the north to the south of Viẹt Nam and collected incredible recipes. When reading the book, I dreamed about visiting those places and trying those dishes myself. The YouTube channel is the vehicle for me to reach that dream. Through my channel, I want to share my experience with everyone in Viẹt Nam as well as the world,” Anh says.

Though Anh is now a student abroad in Australia, being exposed to different cuisines from around the world, she thinks that this opportunity will help to enrich her passion for Vietnamese food.

“I learned about Western cooking methods, how to work professionally in a commercial kitchen and learn many plating ideas as well, but I think that knowledge will only assist me when cooking Vietnamese food,” she says.

And her essential ingredient is also typical Vietnamese – fish sauce which she always brings along whenever she travels as it adds a unique flavour to the food.

Anh reveals that her next journey is Nha Trang City in the central province of Khánh Hòa where she could learn diving and explore the seas around Viẹt Nam.

“I will finally get a chance to cook some seafood. I can’t wait!” VNS

Delicious: Grilled pigeon with mountain herbs in Tủa Chùa District in Diẹn Bien Province, one of Anh’s favourite dishes from northwestern Viẹt Nam. Photo courtesy of Nguyẽn Khánh Vuong Anh
Tucking in: Anh tries mountain duck salad with orange in an orchard in Hòa Bình Province. Photo courtesy of Nguyẽn Khánh Vuong Anh
Local speciality: Anh cooks veal spring roll in Mọc Chau District in Hòa Bình Province. Photo courtesy of Nguyẽn Khánh Vuong Anh

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