In Dong Nai Province there are lots of quarries which are thousands of years old. Vinh Cuu District, an area of this province, is famous for stone carving. A young chef has brought those thousands-of-years-old stones of this region into the culinary art together with many legends about stones. She is Chef Tran Ngoc Nghia, the runner-up of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013. The dish which brought her reputation is Prawns Steamed with Tea Leaves. In culinary culture, the ability to directly cook a dish at the table may show the outstanding level of the chef. The hardest part is to carefully prepare every single tiny detail for the dish because there are only a few minutes to cook it. Hot pebble stones, together with matcha and layers of mist, make the prawns change slowly from green to red. The method of steaming by the pure green tea mist will definitely impress every sense of the diners. The “fusion” technique, which means the combination of many different techniques, schools and groups of ingredients, was skillfully used in this dish in this era of integration. It combines ingredients such as the young green tea leaves in the tea hills of Olong Cau Dat, Lam Dong Province, the matcha powder of Japan, the spicy chilies from the Central Vietnam, and the pungent bell pepper from Europe which is already Vietnamized, and it uses a combination of techniques such as the steaming process with hot stones covered in aluminum foil paper and the frying technique using tempura together with the spicy and fatty satay of India. It was her masterpiece when she created balance and harmony and helped the prawn be present in a magnificent dish.
PRAWNS STEAMED WITH TEA LEAVESPrint This
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE PRAWNS
- 4 giant river prawns (800g)
- 2g salt
- 5g seasoning powder
- 10g satay (chili paste)
- 6g matcha powder
- 100ml water
- 5g sugar
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE
- 50g onions
- 50g green bell pepper
- 50g red bell pepper
- 50g green tiny chili pepper
- 50g pineapple
- 5ml cooking oil
- 40ml broth
- 2g seasoning powder
- 2g sugar
- 1g salt
- 2g matcha powder
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE GREEN TEA
- TEMPURA POWDER
- 200g tempura powder
- 50ml iced water
- 300ml cooking oil
- 100g young green tea leaves
- (Refractory bowl)
- (Aluminum foil paper)
- (Pebble stones)
Preparation: Cut the antennules of the prawns and reserve the claws, use a sharp knife to slit down the back of the prawns to devein them then clean and drain them. Clean the onions, pepper and pineapple then cut them into 1cm cubes. Clean and drain the tea leaves.
Cook the prawns: Marinate the prepared prawns with 5g seasoning powder, 2g salt, 5g sugar, 10g satay and leave them for ten minutes for the spices to marinate thoroughly. Mix 6g matcha powder and 100ml water. Put the hot burnt pebble stones into a refractory bowl, cover the stones with a layer of aluminum foil paper which has some small holes to let the green tea extract touch the stones. Tear 5 green tea leaves into small pieces, and put them on the aluminum foil paper and place the prawns on. Pour the green tea water into the bowl and quickly cover the bowl with a lid. The prawns will be steamed by the mist evaporating from the green tea water. Finally transfer the steamed prawns to a pan and roughly stir-fry them so that they’ll be evenly cooked.
Fry the green tea tempura: Add 100g tempura powder into a bowl then add 50ml cold iced water and stir until the batter is thickened. Heat the pan, then add about 300ml cooking oil and wait until the oil is heated through. Coat the green tea leaves with 100g tempura powder, then dip them into the tempura batter and deep-fry them until they turn golden. Transfer to the paper towels to drain off the excess cooking oil.
Make the sauce: Put a pan on the stove, when it is heated through, add 5ml cooking oil then add the prepared onions, red pepper and pineapples and quickly stir-fry them. Add 40ml broth and bring it to a boil. Season it with 2g seasoning powder, 2g sugar and 1g salt. Mix 2g matcha powder and 3ml water, pour the batter into the pan and cook until the sauce is thickened.
Transfer the prawns to a serving plate, serve with fried green tea leaves.
The prawns should be perfectly cooked and have their naturally sweet taste and fragrance of matcha.
The green tea leaves should be crispy and spongy but not greasy. It should also be served hot.
The broth can be replaced by coconut water or water.
Use young, thin and new green tea leaves so that they won’t be fibrous and acrid.
Use a lid with holes so that the heat can be escaped so that the bowl won’t be broken. The lid should fit the size of the bowl.
EFFECTS OF THIS DISH
This dish is very beneficial for the body because it provides lots of easily digested proteins, lots of vitamins (beta-carotene, B group vitamins, vitamin C) and trace minerals. This dish strengthens the body, prevents aging, protects skin, and reduces blood pressure, blood fat, and blood sugar; it prevents cancer, relieves constipation and improves eyesight. It is very useful for people with asthenia, blood and vitamin deficiency, loss of appetite, insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes, high bad cholesterol in blood, obesity, indigestive disorders, constipation, arthritis, gout, urinary stone disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), skin inflammation, senility, weak eyesight and pale skin.
TRAN NGOC NGHIA Tien Loc Wedding Restaurant (Dong Nai Province) Runner-up in the Golden Spoon Awards 2013