Discovering Việt Nam with Martin Yan

In a 26-episode reality show ‘Martin Yan-Taste of Việt Nam’, the world famous Chinese American chef Martin Yan travels through 15 provinces and cities across Việt Nam and relates interesting stories on Vietnamese culture and cuisine.

Martin Yan at Xóm Mời Market in Nha Trang City during his journey for the reality show ‘Martin Yan-Taste of Việt Nam’

In 2008, Yan and a Hong Kong friend visited Việt Nam during Tết Lunar New Year.

They were a bit homesick to celebrate Tết so far from home.

Fortunately, their Vietnamese friends gave them a joyous and warm welcome which made their trip more eventful.

From then on, it has been a journey of love for Việt Nam for the 64-year-old chef.

Last year he was in Việt Nam to do a reality show on tourism and traditional cuisine of Việt Nam.

The ‘Martin Yan-Taste of Việt Nam’ reality show has been televised on HTV Việt Nam and on Asian Food Channel, which covers several Asian nations and territories like Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Hong Kong.

The show has also been broadcast on Public Broadcasting Services and will be on air in 25 countries in the Asian region and the world.

For the show, Yan traveled across 15 provinces and cities, known for beautiful landscapes such as Huế, Hội An, Sa Pa, Ninh Bình, Đà Nẵng, Phan Thiết, Bến Tre and Cần Thơ, where he joined with local residents and culinary experts to cook more than 50 typically traditional dishes of the various regions.

Yan says that the dish he remembers the most is Cơm Tấm (broken rice).

Broken rice with grilled pork chops is a popular dish in Việt Nam.

“Broken rice is less nutritious than ordinary rice but the Vietnamese people use it to making a very tasty and healthy dish,” he said.

The meal Yan remembers the most was in Vung Viêng fishing village in Quảng Ninh Province, where he had dinner with a local family who were too poor to even have electric light.

Fresh crimson snapper was caught from the fishing raft.

Tomato and water dropwort were bought from a grocery boat.

With only these as ingredients, Yan prepared the Cá nấu ngót dish–a simple and delicious fish soup.

By late afternoon, they all gathered with the family to have a warm dinner.

Also during their cross country journey, Martin Yan had a chance to nibble the blazing Roselle petals at Việt Hải fishing village in Hải Phòng National Park in November–the end of the flowering season.

Local residents skillfully separate the flower petals from the pistils and dry them to make jam.

The pistils are also dried in a pan and then laid on the ground to be dried and crushed to make a special tea drink.

The Roselle plant leaves are also used for cooking soup and braised fish.

“I am the most fortunate man in the world.”

Said Yan after learning how to make Roselle petal jam and drinking Roselle tea.

Source: Tuổi Trẻ Newspaper / Sài Gòn Liberation Daily

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