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From France to Vietnam: 4 Vietnamese Dishes that were influenced by the French

From the country’s thriving coffee culture to the ubiquitous rice-flour baguette, the culinary culture of Vietnam reveals French influences at every turn, making this country’s cuisine ever so diverse. The Franco-Vietnamese relations began with the arrival of Catholic missionaries in Vietnam in the 17th century. France colonized Vietnam and Cambodia, forming the Indochinese Union in 1887, which set the French influence in Vietnam for the next 70 years. French colonialism influenced Vietnam in numerous ways – most noticeably in their cuisine. However, the locals took these influences and made these dishes their own. And while the two cuisines couldn’t be more different at first glance, they share far more than you would expect, regardless of history.

Coffee

The French started sipping this magical concoction in the 1600s. About 200 hundred years later it was brought over to Vietnam. And while the French usually serves it hot and black as espresso or with steamed milk as café au lait, Vietnamese coffee is customarily served cold and sweetened with rich condensed milk. Coffee drinking is now very common all around Vietnam since the quality of beans that are grown in the country’s backyard is outstanding. Today, Vietnam is the 2nd largest coffee producer in the world.

Vietnames Coffee

 

Creamy Desserts

Cooked cream desserts like bánh flan, whose name and appearance contradicts its origins as crème caramel, are typical in Vietnamese cooking. In France, these desserts are usually made with a milk and cream mixture, while in Vietnam they use coconut milk instead. Another twist that makes it extremely popular in Vietnam is the addition of coffee instead of caramel like the French do.

La Baguette

Bread is not widespread in East Asia, but when the French colonists arrived in Vietnam, they brought in their influence in the form of baguettes. However, while the French make their dough with wheat flour, Vietnamese use rice flour, giving it an entirely different flavor and texture. These baguettes are used as the base of one of the most famous Vietnamese dishes in the world called banh mi. This sandwich, which depending on where in the country you are, may contain either margarine and pâté, or a combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro, and chili sauce.

Vietnamese Style Sandwiches - Banh Mi

 

Pot Au Feu to Pho

Another French influence in Vietnamese cuisine is a traditional soup known as Pho, pronounced fuh. This staple consists of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef, which some say may be a copy of the French pot au feu or stew. The noodles, of course, are part of a basic Asian dish while the beef certainly comes from the European influence, since meat is not very common in Eastern cuisines. .

Vietnamese Pho

From the lush countryside of farms and rice paddies outside of Saigon to the bustling shops and restaurants of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, enjoy the traditions and unique culture and cuisine of Vietnam with us on a voyage this winter.

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Chef Kelly’s Tuna Tataki

By Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly

This recipe is so easy, it’s ridiculous! It’s such an elegant meal, and it can be plated so beautifully that it’s perfect for a Friday night at home with a glass of sake and your favorite movie. Bon appetit!

Ingredients

1 (about 1 tablespoon) green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 tablespoon ginger juice

3 tablespoons ponzu

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds

½ lemon, sliced paper thin, then into half moons

1 tablespoon peanut oil

½ pound sashimi grade yellowtail or ahi tuna

Korean chili threads, for garnish

 

{ SERVES 2 }

 

Preparation

oceania_Tuna-TatakiCombine all ingredients for the sauce into a small bowl. Heat oil in a wok or saute pan. When oil is shimmering and very hot, sear the tuna on each side. When all sides are seared, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Slice the tuna into ¼-inch pieces. Plate, alternating lemon slices with tuna pieces. Pour the sauce over the lemon and tuna, garnish with Korean chili threads, and serve.

Chef’s Tip: Ginger Juice
When I was at Canyon Ranch researching their cuisine, a fellow Culinary Institute of America colleague and Executive Chef, Scott Uehlein, showed me this technique and it has been a favorite of our guests ever since. Grate the whole piece of ginger, skin and all, on a box grater – medium grate – over a dish, bowl or cheesecloth. Wring the shredded ginger out into a clean bowl and extract the juice. Use the required juice as a one-to-one equivalent in any recipe (1 teaspoon juice equals 1 teaspoon grated ginger). It’s such a time-saver and gets rid of those fibers that get stuck in your teeth.

For more great recipes and tips like these, ask about our Culinary Center Favorites Recipe Collection next time you’re on board Marina or Riviera!

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CHEF KELLY’S ADVENTURES ON RIVIERA’S LANDS OF TIME CRUISE: Part One

DSCN4554Riviera has just sailed from Istanbul, the city described by a 14th-century poet as “surrounded by a garland of waters.” The Galata Bridge diminishes behind us as we cruise along the Golden Horn to where it meets the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. This was the final port on our 15-day cruise, Lands of Time, during which we traveled from Barcelona to Istanbul, stopping in Alexandria, Haifa and many other ports along the way. I had the opportunity to experience cuisines from all across the Mediterranean, and so I will be sharing a three-part series here on the blog with the many highlights of this magical voyage.

We welcomed guests onboard in Barcelona, including my sister, Erin, who is traveling with me for a month. Our first stop was the Boqueria Market, a must-visit every time I am in Gaudi’s city by the sea, for breakfast at my favorite little stall. They always have a plate of fresh vegetables, such as artichokes and mushrooms, that they sauté with your eggs and of course, jamon. What would Barcelona be without jamon Iberico and fried eggs for breakfast? Yum!

 

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We had two sea days on this cruise, which are always busy days in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center. The classes were full and, as always, a lot of fun. We welcomed several families who took classes together and many guests who were true “foodies.” Having just returned from the Baltic, we celebrated with some new recipes in the Crazy for Crepes class: Swedish pancakes with saffron (a spice brought to Sweden by the Vikings from Constantinople) and authentic buckwheat galettes from Brittany.

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After stops in Ibiza and Malta, we arrived at the healthy cuisine capital of the planet, Crete. Escorting 24 of our guests, I led a Culinary Discovery Tour to the small Cretan village of Arolithos, one of our favorite culinary destinations this summer. We were greeted by the friendly faces of our hosts who shared their favorite Cretan dishes in a hands-on cooking demonstration. Guests learned to stuff tomato and grape leaves with a heavenly vegetable mixture. They also made agnopites – a phyllo-like dough made with the local raki liqueur and rolled with myzithra cheese into a treat resembling a cinnamon roll. It is fried and then served drenched in Cretan honey that has a delicate hint of thyme. After a few hours of cooking demonstrations, tasting and strolling through this historic village, we sat for a delightful lunch overlooking the ocean and the olive and grape vineyards below. As they nibbled at the wild herbs and olive tree leaves around us, flocks of sheep bleated as if encouraging us to come and visit anytime!

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After an enchanting day in Crete, we were off on a four-day immersion into the cuisines and cultures of Cairo, Ashdod and Haifa. Since my favorite cuisines are those with lots of fresh produce, vegetables and grilled meats, I was looking forward to tasting the foods of these ancient cities.

In Cairo, we began with a visit to the pyramids where my sister made me ride a camel. His name was Humphrie, and the ride felt nothing like the riding I did for 20 years on my sporting horses in Middleburg, Virginia! But you couldn’t beat the scenery – three pyramids and a Sphinx!

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As we drove through Cairo to rendezvous with the boat that would take us down the Nile, it became clear that mangoes were in season because they were being sold in little stands every few feet. Eating seasonal foods is still a way of life here, not a farm-to-market “movement,” as it is in other parts of the world.

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L1050468We ate lunch on a beautifully decorated riverboat as it sailed down the Nile. The buffet was a delicious collection of mezze: hummus with black olives, grilled eggplant puree with yogurt and chilies, dolmas (fresh grape leaves stuffed with minced lamb, raisins and seasoned rice), minted yogurt and freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. The keftas, or meatballs, made with ground lamb, beef and veal were L1050460delicious. Keftas are an integral part of Middle Eastern cuisine, and it is always fun to taste the various seasonings and meats that are used to make them.

After a wonderful day in Cairo, we were off to Israel. I had been studying Israeli cuisine and was eager to spend some more time in this amazing country. I look forward to sharing my stories from Israel with you in Part Two of this series on our adventures on Riviera’s Lands of Time cruise.