Monday, October 15, 2012

Travel to Vietnam - enjoy "pho"

Vietnam is an agricultural civilization based on wet rice cultivation with ancient Dong Son culture as one of its defining aspects. The major stimulation of Vietnamese culture’s development comes from indigenous factors, with Chinese and Indian influence serving to further enrich it. Through history, Cham culture and the cultures of other minority ethnic groups in Vietnam have been integrated with Vietnamese culture in correlated effects. The official spoken and written language of Vietnam is Vietnamese.

Vietnam is considered a part of the East Asian Cultural Sphere, or Sinosphere, due to highly significant cultural influences from China throughout its history. In the socialist era, the cultural life of Vietnam has been deeply influenced by government-controlled media and the cultural influences of socialist programs. For many decades, foreign cultural influences were shunned and emphasis placed on appreciating and sharing the culture of communist nations such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and others. Since the 1990s, Vietnam has seen a greater exposure to Southeast Asian, European and American culture and media.

Vietnamese phở noodle soup is made by sliced rare beef and well done beef brisket. Rice noodles are noodles that are made from rice. Their principal ingredients are rice flour and water. However, sometimes other ingredients such as tapioca or corn starch are also added in order to improve the transparency or increase the gelatinous and chewy texture of the noodles.

Rice noodles are most commonly used in the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia, and are available fresh, frozen, or dried, in various shapes and thicknesses. In Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Idiappam, a type of rice noodle, is usually freshly made at home and tends to be far more tender with distinctive texture, as opposed to the dried form of Chinese noodles. A variation of Idiappam, known as sevai in Tamil Nadu, is used as the base in savoury preparations; it is also called santhakai or sandhavai in the Coimbatore region of Tamil Nadu. A similar mode of preparation called savige is popular in Karnataka.

Phở is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles (called bánh phở’) in clear beef broth, with slim cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket). Variations feature tendon, tripe, meatballs,chicken leg, chicken breast, or other chicken organs. “With the lot” (made with chicken broth and all or most of the shop’s chicken and cattle offerings, including chicken hearts and livers and beef tripe and tendons) is known as phở đặc biệt (“specialty phở”)

Vietnamese dishes are meals typically served with lots of greens, herbs, vegetables, and various other accompaniments such as dipping sauces, hot and spicy pastes, and flavor enhancements, such as a squeeze of lime or lemon. The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, coriander, Thai basil (húng quế) (not be confused with sweet basil, Vietnamese: húng chó or húng dổi), fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon orlime wedges, bean sprouts, and coriander (ngò rí) or cilantro (ngò gai).

Several ingredients that are not generally served with phở may be ordered by request. Extra fatty broth (nước béo) can be ordered and comes with scallions to sweeten it. A popular side dish ordered upon request is hành dấm, or vinegared white onions. The dish is sometimes flavoured with cà cuống, which is a pheromone, collected from the male giant water bug.

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